Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Crazy fun

You can never be sure what equals fun for other people.

I know someone — okay, lots of someones — who think Disney land/World is the pinnacle of fun. For them, a Disney visit is truly a visit to a magical kingdom, one that suffuses you with delight and joy. Meanwhile, if you want to see me quickly spiral into a squall of rage, drop me into either of those places with their densely packed, stultifying forced sense of cheer as your lifeforce drains away while you interminably wend your way nearer the Haunted Mansion and question whatever bad decision led you to this place at this time.

So, no, I don’t want to go there. Ever again. No matter its legions of fans. And good for them; I don’t care. It’s just not for me.

At the same time, it’s unfathomable to me that not everyone feels the chest-bursting excitement I do when I see vintage comic books from the 60’s and 70’s. Just thinking about them now is giving me gooseflesh. Reading them is part of the enjoyment, of course, and also touching them, and smelling them, and holding them in my hands… and now I’m suddenly thinking about women. My love of comics may be a bit extreme. In any event, visiting a comic-book store or, oh lord, the San Diego Comic-Con? It’s like visiting Mecca.

So everyone has their own idea of fun. A day of antiquing? No fun. Mountain climbing? Um, no. Meanwhile, I like camping, and canoeing, hiking, and pushing my limits at the gym, and reading Wallace Shawn’s essays. I find addressing a crowd of people to be fun, and that’s most people’s foremost fear:  public speaking.

What brought this to mind was my most recent appointment to what is many, many people’s least-fun place:  the dentist’s office, on Friday. In my decades in dental chairs, the care and treatment and repair and replacement of my teeth has purchased more than one Learjet. Some of my dentists have been good and some of them bad and at least one was an incompetent charlatan. At this point, I think I can tell the difference between good dentists and bad dentists, so when I tell you I’ve been with my current dentist for eight years, that should tell you something. I think he’s terrific, and so is his staff. This dentist is someone who friended me on Facebook, has given me his personal cellphone number, and who one time came in on a holiday weekend when I had snapped a tooth and, on that holiday weekend when he came in just for me, found a way to permanently glue the broken tooth back together and into my head. (Free advice:  Don’t gnaw on the end cap of a turkey drumstick. Bad idea. Even if you have my dentist.) My plan is to stay with him until death do us part.

Though I’ll spare you the details of my procedure, you’ll get an idea from how I recounted it to a client later (much later, after the numbing had worn off and after I’d had a good lie day). My client was referring to an issue in a way I thought wasn’t the best light in which to put it, mostly because by implication it created an unfair and, I think, unjust impression of what’s actually an improvement. So I said:

“I had a dental appointment earlier today. That’s what they called it:  a dental appointment. If they’d said they were going to saw my tooth in half with a power tool and then use pliers to wrench the pieces out of my head, I might not have gone.”

He got my point.

Once the drilling and sawing and wrenching were done, as well as the flying of my spittle all over and down my neck, I was turned over to my dentist’s assistant, C., a young man I’ve come to like. He’s modest, friendly, capable, professional, and a bit on the short side. He told me what would come next.

“Okay, now I just need to make a new temporary tooth for you.” 

“What could be more fun?” I said. Most of my retorts are delivered blankly — even close friends have told me they’re unsure of my tone, and please remember my comic hero is the expressionless Buster Keaton — but I’m not sure how C. took this.

“For me,” he said, “this is fun.”If I’d any doubt before that I was in the right place (and I hadn’t), it was all gone now. Anyone who spends 40 hours a week vacuuming out the insides of someone’s mouth while his boss is applying a drill one inch away, and then cleaning up the associated offal, had better like it.

2 Responses to “Crazy fun”

  1. Paul Says:

    Fun is where you find it. Be it as a dental assistant or the person driving the street cleaner or the person driving the snow plow depriving kids of a snow day off from school.

    You want people to be having fun at work, not some grouchy person.

    Me, I have fun doing stuff at home, doing jobs like painting (I know I just volunteered myself for painting next time I’m in Burbank), and doing prize drawings and announcements at work. Some people may hate doing this stuff but I like it.

    As to you & comic books, I know better than to get between you and a 50% discount table at Comic Con.

  2. Dan Says:

    They say Hell is rather nice this time of year, before the tourists arrive. Of course, I’m too old to make the trip myself, but there are some elected officials I have recently urged to visit there.

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