Weather Forecast


Column: A 13-year-old with a bumptious bite has Dad bracing himself for the bill

First, let me say: I love dentists.

Now this story, from a daughter who needed braces, way back when she was 13.

I took her and her bumptious bite to an orthodontist. He examined her teeth for about 10 seconds and turned away, and said: "I believe in the beauty of venture capital; I believe Wall Street is a wonderful thing; I believe in Mercedes cars and motor yachts; I ...."

Wait a minute.

I asked him: "Are you talking to me?" (He was cleaning very thick glasses while addressing a Toothie-Bear Hygiene poster hanging on the wall.)

He put his glasses back on, seemed momentarily disoriented, turned, squinted in another direction, and proceeded to talk to a tall floor lamp: "As I was saying, I believe in long vacations in Bermuda; in...."

I didn't know what to believe. He was, after all, talking to a lamp. He had his glasses off once again. I wanted to tell him that I didn't think it was dirty glasses to blame.

He put his glasses on, frowned myopically at the floor lamp, took them off, held them at arm's length, put them back on, and this time, directed his words at a tall x-ray machine.

"Yes, dad," he said, "she needs braces."

Hmmmm, I said. How long must she have them on?

He began to rotate slowly on the little roller stool upon which he sat, apparently searching for me by the sound of my voice. He stopped when he spied the large rubber plant over in the corner. He smiled at it, revealing rather large, disorganized teeth that seemed out of sync somehow with the Mercedes parked outside his office.

He said, "Some kids take many moons. Some a few. Your child will be like the others, I think."

As he skooched his little medical hot wheels along the wall, squinting closely at the scenery going by, I asked him how much this would cost.

As he put his face closer to a 10 rules to healthy teeth poster, he said: "We have two plans."

Of course you do.

He said, "We have the railroad plan, in which you hold out your wallet like a sack of mail and I hook it as I race out the door to go golfing."

He rolled up to a giant toothbrush leaning in the corner, grabbed it, and mumbled something about mops and janitors.

The other plan?

"Ah yes," he replied, talking to Mr. Tooth Decay on the wall, "That's my favorite plan, the other one. I call it the monopoly plan. We play with real money. You don't get to shake the dice. I own all the properties."

He giggled to himself, and said, "All the properties...." He slapped Mr. Tooth Decay on his poster shoulder.

When I and my daughter left, he was wrestling with the giant toothbrush. The toothbrush was winning.

He did a great job on her teeth.

Who said there isn't a tooth fairy?