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January 28, 2010

Heehee? Hohay, ha huhu ho.

Some people, when pointy metal things are jabbed at their prone and helpless persons, they just sit back pray.

Me, I'm a talker. An asker, actually, since that's the best I can do when all I have at my disposal are H's, vowels, and the tone of my voice.

"How hihi ho?" I asked, as she was telling me about a recent awkward situation she'd untangled.

"It went well," the hygenist answered as her pickax starting hacking at the next tooth.

"Heehee? Hohay, ha huhu ho," I said, and managed a smile.

"Thanks, I know, it really did work out for the best. Move your tongue to your right cheek please."

She kept on talking -- about her day, her family, her years working for this office, dental insurance, where she'd lived before -- and mostly I sat quietly, but once in a while I asked.

She was perfectly versed in my dialect. I never once had to repeat myself and I think that, after 25 years on the job, she could speak it in her sleep.

Once, I felt a jab of pain and jolted my eyebrows up in protest.

"Sorry!" she exclaimed.

"Hih hohay," I answered.

What else could I say?

"Hohe hu heha. Ha hi ho ho how." [That would be, "Forget the exam. Can I go home now?"]

Ho hay! (I mean, No way.)

I spent Thursday morning -- three hours of it, at least -- in a dentist's chair. It was a new patient visit, and I've never had had such a thorough exam in my life. Not even my high school math final, which I felt truly plumbed the depths of my cranial recesses.

Despite the impression I may give here, the hygenist was incredibly gentle: There was only one eyebrow moment on the whole session, and her talking put me at ease. I could have tuned it out, or just sat there quietly, or asked her to stop, but her stories got my mind off the other stuff. The sharp metal objects trying to get intimate with my second incisors.

And I don't know. It's impossible for me to listen to a tale from someone's life and not ask, react, interact.

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