Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Cow-Culated Trip to the Dentist

Most of my cowing adventures simply unfold in spontenaity and then I write about it. Today was different. Today's "blog" is one of my columns from the Idaho State Journal. After I submitted it to the editor, I knew I had to get these people to cow with me so I could post the text here.

Today made me think about a number of important people in my life over the years. I need to write about them. And now that I can check my check-up off my to-do list,  I'm cow-culating as I type...

The Ones You Want to Keep
A cheerful post card reminder from my dentist’s office came this month. Okay, last month. It’s time for a teeth cleaning and check up. I love going to the dentist. Really. There wasn’t an ounce of sarcasm in that statement. Or in that one. I’ve just been busy.

I began going to this dentist when I was four years old. I remember the Dr. Seuss books in the waiting room, the golden shag carpet of his old office, and posing for toothy Polaroid’s when I didn’t have a cavity.

Having my picture taken was plenty incentive to brush, but I also loved the box of erasers and bouncy balls. MarJean, the receptionist, is one of about five people that can still get away with calling me Billie Jo.
This is MarJean. Smiling is so easy to do in a cow suit and with nice folks.

My dentist doesn’t see as many patients as he used to, but I can tell he stops in the office now and then. The Karen Carpenter and Barry Manilow crooning over the speakers give him away. Nowadays I see his son or son in law who have joined his practice. They have maintained that homey comfort and I always look forward to my visits with them.
My dentist came in today! He joked about trying to round up
some music. (Luckily he was unsuccessful.)
There used to be a sign above one of the exam room thresholds. It was precisely in my field of vision from the reclined, too-big chair. I would look past my toes and study the handmade wooden plaque with a 1970’s hippie font and caked-on shellac.

“You don’t have to floss all your teeth—just the ones you want to keep.” 
I’m a diligent teeth-flosser during corn on the cob and steak grilling season and during the month between receiving the postcard and my check up. If I floss for a month straight, surely they will think I have flossed every day since I saw them last.

Flossing is on the same list as watering the plants, cleaning my bike after muddy rides, and sending “thank you” notes. Sometimes these happen. Sometimes they don’t. I recognize the need. My intentions are good. My follow-through ebbs and flows and I could stand to take care of all of them better.
I have three Hawaiian shirts older than a fifth grader that I always wash on delicate and air dry. I hand wash the ice cream scoop and pizza cutter that once belonged to my grandmother, and I get an annual mammogram because I definitely want to keep those. With my box turtle having just celebrated his 30th birthday, it’s clear that I get the “care and keeping” concept with many things.

There are days I miss the memo, though. I feel like a participating drone in an overly consumerist and easily bored society, and I’m not sure how to step out of the habituated herd.
As the school year began, parents everywhere admonished their children, “you get one backpack this year, so take care of it.” But how many purses do their moms go through?

“You need to make these shoes last through the fall until we can afford boots and no mud puddles!” How many pairs of hunting boots or gym shoes do we really need? We plead with kids to take care of things, but do we model the same behavior? With things? With people?
Hoping for behaviors in the next generation is futile if we can’t change them in our own. We lose things we wish we’d taken better care of. We get new things before we need them and without first caring for the old. We get hurried and careless, but then it’s tricky to draw upon a success story because sometimes we take as good of care as we possibly can and things are lost regardless.

I have lost plants, wool sweaters, bike components and friendships because I didn’t take care of them, but at least I still have my teeth—most of them anyway.
I guess I should take care of this lingering to-do list item and schedule my appointment. MarJean and the rest of the folks at my dentist’s office have done a wonderful job taking care of me for over three decades. You’d think they want to keep me.

1 comment:

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