Thursday 6 September 2018

The Filling

I went to the dentist and he said that

I needed a filling, a huge filling, massive,

really, really big. I said OK and he gave

me an injection and while we waited for

it to take effect he said what music would

I like on, you can have classical, pop, jazz,

whatever you like and I said, jazz please

and he said that he was writing a novel,

it’s about this Jewish kid who was

adopted by the Pope and I could feel the

injection spreading through my jaw like a

finger in my gum and there was Miles Davis

doing ‘So What’ on the speaker and that gave

me such a good feeling of sitting in my old friend

Dave’s room and Dave saying that this is the

greatest record ever made, and me thinking

how does Dave know that, how can he be so

certain and to think - hah! - it wasn’t all that long

after it came out and in a way, Dave was right

and he was - what? - only sixteen at the time,

fancy being 16 and listening to that album, and

knowing that it was great and the dentist said

Spielberg was on to the story and was making a

movie about it but Spielberg was basing it on a

history book he’d got hold of not his novel and I said

how I wrote a book about a kid who spends the

night in a museum long before the ‘Night in the

Museum’ movie came out and he said that the

filling was going to be enormous, huge, massive,

and he got cracking and I closed my eyes and

concentrated on flattening my back out in

the chair and breathing and he said to the

assistant, ‘Wedge’, and I wondered what that

could be, and then I heard the drill - such a

high pitch - and he said to the assistant,

‘Come over here, take a look at this,’ and she

went around to his side, and looked in and I

could hear her take in a sudden breath, and

he said, I’ve never seen that before, and she

said, ‘Neither have I,’ and I said, ‘What?’ though

really it was just a kind of questioning grunt

because I had the suction thing in on one side

that was hauling all my spit out and somewhere

in there was the thing he called the wedge, and

he said, ‘Well, I think I can see your brain.’ And I

said, ‘What colour?’ but I think he thought I said,

‘Fuck off’ because he said, ‘No. I mean really.’ So

I tried to ask him, ‘What was he going to do about

it?’ And because I couldn’t say it properly, I did

a kind of shrug meaning, what to do? And I meant

it quite urgently because I didn’t really want my 

brain exposed like that, I don’t know much about brains

but I was pretty sure that a brain shouldn’t just be

hanging out in the middle of a dentist’s surgery. But

I think he took the shrug as a kind of Jewish shrug, 

meaning, ‘hey, so! It’s no big deal, there are worse

things in life than a bit of brain being on show.’

So, he said, ‘Too right, I like the attitude. Do you

mind if I take a picture of it?’ And I did a gesture

meaning, ‘You go ahead,’ and he got that gesture

OK and put his phone right next to my mouth and

he said, ‘Got it, thanks. I won’t put it up on social

media or anything,’ and I gave him a thumbs up

because actually I was quite grateful that people

would not be tweeting pictures of my tooth with

this - like - tunnel leading up to my brain because

next thing I’d be on a station somewhere

and someone would come up to me and say,

‘Sheesh, saw your brain on Facebook, man,’

and he showed the pic to the assistant and she

said, ‘That’s good,’ and in a way I felt kinda

flattered that she thought my brain looked good

but then I thought O maybe she just means that

her boss has taken a good picture and - hey -

who knows, there might be some whole thing

about her having to say that his photos were

good because of whether she got a bonus or not

and he said, that he needed to ‘pack’ the hole

now and because it led up to my brain, it might

start affecting how I thought with that part of

the brain, and I said, ‘what part of the brain

is it?’ And he said, ‘It’s the part of the brain

that deals with chickens.’ And I said, ‘Will it mean

that I won’t be able to see or hear chickens, is it that?’

And he said that he wasn’t sure because people

react in different ways to having packing put in

right close to the brain. And I said but you said that

you had never seen anything like this before, it

sounds like you have seen a few people with this

tunnel up to the chicken-part of the brain and he said,

who’s the dentist here? And I pointed to him. I very

carefully pointed at him with one finger so that he

was in no doubt that I thought that he was the

dentist here. And I think he took that pretty well.