Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Photo Shoot

And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only - "It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)" - Dylan, 1965
42nd Street, Manhattan
"My god look at your HAIR!" he said. "That won't do at all."

I think he was doing his Larry David impersonation. But I was not amused.

He'd called the day before wanting to take photos. My dentist. He was giving a presentation. To the American Association of Dentists or some such organization. I am one of his most ambitious, challenging, and successful cases. He had taken photos of my teeth at each stage of his year long work way back in 2011.

My wonderful New York dentist. He'd saved my teeth. My life in fact. When I'd wandered into his 40th Street practice about five years ago, I had thought I was about to lose all my teeth. The casualties of 1950's socialist dentistry in Australia. Another reason NOT to vote for Bernie Sanders.

But I digress.

I remembered how dreadful my teeth had been. And how excellent his work. So when he called wanting more shots, I said of course, when do you need me? Tomorrow? Sounds good.

Tomorrow became today, and it did not start off well.

A man had died a few yards from my apartment building. He'd been stabbed a block away earlier in the morning. I saw it on the early morning news. He'd managed to crawl about half a block almost to the corner of 94th and Second. A cab picked him up. Too late.

Everyone was quiet in the lobby when I exited the elevator. No "Have a nice day" from the doorman. It just seemed wrong.

Homeless Woman, Grand Central
But half an hour later on the bus down Second Avenue on my way to work I'd forgotten about it. Such is the stuff that we humans are made of.

Several hours later I was at an optometrist. Looking forward to new glasses. A routine check-up. I was excited. I was getting a pair of Lindberg frames. But I was thinking of the man. The stabbing. My mind wandered. Left eye. Right eye. I couldn't make it to the third row of letters.

She looked about ten. Efficient. Smart. Pretty. Asian. What was she saying? Retinal scarring? What did she mean? A specialist? Cornell?

Suddenly the cost of the frames didn't matter. I paid. I smiled. I shoved it to the back of my mind. Where the bad things lurk.

Eyes left! Walk south down Madison. Eyes right. Next stop the photo shoot. Teeth time!

There'd been a slight breeze as I stumbled south down Madison. A few wisps of my pulled-back hair had escaped. But I was only thinking about my eyes.

On the way up on the elevator in the pre-war building on 40th Street,  I couldn't read the floor numbers on the display. "Is this the sixth floor?" I asked a man with a guide dog. He shrugged. I guess he didn't speak English.

Somehow I arrived at my dentist's office. That's when he said about my hair. I stood there speechless.

 "Oh it doesn't matter," he said. "It is good if you look a whole lot older; it'll make it seem that my dental work lasts even longer."

Jesus Christ I told him. A man died near my apartment building this morning and now I am going blind.

Unphased as is his way - "I can recommend you to a good retinal specialist, I'll just get his card."

I told him not to bother. He took some teeth photos. His assistant had to put medieval torture instruments in my mouth so my lips weren't in the way of his Nikon. She stuck a mirror in what space remained in my oral cavity. "No good! You BREATHED!" Was he talking to me or his assistant?  I heard her apologizing. We tried again. And again. And so it went till he got some perfect shots.

More torture - this time with the hygienist, cleaning, X-rays. And I was free to leave.

The receptionist, a lovely woman, was giving me kindly smiles. The hygienist was telling me I'd need a molar pulled. My dentist was telling her not yet Miss Juliff needs to get her eyes fixed first. It is not a good day for Miss Juliff. A man was stabbed to death near her apartment. I told her to blog it.

"Send me the link!" he called as I fumbled for my coat.

Of course he is a wonderful dentist. I even told him so. It is the only thing you've got going for you I told him. He saved my teeth five years ago.

 He's a lovely man. A real New Yorker. I'd recommend him to anyone.

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