Stephen and the Chipmunks

There are a few things in this world that I just can’t stand. The top three in no particular order are the gyrating moves of Rally Sally in the upper deck, the “great Troy Tulowitzki”, and going to the dentist. The first two on this list I can at some point tolerate. Oh sure I am still hopeful that someone will sit behind Rally Sally and give her a gently nudge off the upper deck or that she has changed her allegiance and has become a diehard Arizona Cardinals fan giving up baseball completely. And there is always a chance that the “great Troy Tulowitzki” will fade to mediocrity after suffering miserably in a prolonged sophomore slump. Two of the top three worst things in the world have the potential to fade off my list so I do have that working for me. The one remaining item though I’m afraid I will have to live with for the rest of my life.

My dislike of the dental industry has been a lifelong problem. It started very early and I put the blame squarely on my parents. When I was a small child, we had a family dentist whose office was across the street from the park where my mother would take me to play. It was a beautiful park with a baseball diamond and we would spend many hours playing catch. I had nothing but fond memories of that park. I would years later find out that the park was just two blocks away from where my wife Trina lived. For all we know we may have actually been playing at the same park as kids never knowing that one day we would be married. All of these happy memories were over-shadowed by the little brick building across the street. Due to health problems as a baby my teeth never formed a proper enamel making them susceptible to cavities. My mother realized that and began a proper dental routine early in my life. One aspect was regular visits to the dentist. One of my earliest memories of the dentist was walking up the sidewalk towards his office. To the left was a sign larger than I was. It stated “Dr. Payne, DDS”. If I would have been older I would have realized the irony of that. Dr. Payne was a large man (at least to me he was) of questionable character and little patience especially for children. He had the chair-side manner of Attila the Hun. He would come in and begin growling at the nurses then turn his focus to me. I could never open my mouth large enough to appease him and his bear-like paws. Dr. Payne did not little to relieve the fears of a child instead using that fear to intimidate the patient. He also did not believe in these new fangled procedures that other dentists were using. Novocain was for sissies and Dr. Payne didn’t treat sissies. If you winced or moved away he yelled. It was like a kids worst nightmare. My mother would have to bribe me to go for a checkup and if there was a follow-up visit for work I would be taken kicking and screaming the whole way. I’ve never gotten over these episodes and I silently hoped that Dr. Payne would somehow meet with an untimely dental floss accident that would paralyze him from the bicuspids down. To this day I can still remember the visits to Dr. Payne and the terror that I felt.

The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today that starting shortstop Stephen Drew left camp to have his wisdom teeth removed. I had to read that a couple of times to let it sink in. Baseball season has been over since October for the Diamondbacks and yet Drew couldn’t get into a dentist until the end of February? Wow, that is one popular dentist. Either that or maybe Stephen Drew had a similar experience in his childhood with a similar Dr. Pain. I have a new sympathy for Drew and feel much closer to him than I have felt before. We are molar brothers sharing a similar fear of drills and fluoride. For the next several days Drew will be under medical care as he tries to recover from being less wise than he was when he came to camp. The bad part is that you get none of the benefits that you get with other childhood maladies. If he had his tonsils out you could at least console him with the thoughts of all the ice cream he could eat. Instead all Stephen has to look forward to is several days of doing his best Alvin and the Chipmunks impression. I can only guess at the fun his teammates will have at his expense. If we miss the play-offs this season I am going to blame Dr. Payne.

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