Updated: Nov 6
Making friends with my dentist was perhaps one of the more unconventional friendships I've ever struck, but it was also one of the most memorable. We'd become mates over multiple cosmetic procedures, so it felt completely natural to invite him to my Australia Day gathering. The event was held in my high-rise city apartment on The Esplanade, overlooking the Swan River, a prime location offering a panoramic view for the fireworks.
My dentist friend arrived with an unexpected plus-one: a dwarf who happened to be a gynaecologist. The irony of the situation was too rich to ignore, and the mental picture it conjured kept me chuckling all evening; and still to this day. Despite having the perfect location for firework-watching, I was so caught up playing host that I missed the entire display. My balcony was jam-packed, and honestly, I didn't mind one bit.
Before we get to the climax, let me backtrack to my many visits at the dentist's clinic. See, my dentist was a businessman at heart, always on the phone wheeling and dealing. He even had a habit of talking to his stockbroker while working on my teeth. Ever vigilant, I kept a small mirror at hand to watch what he was doing. And good thing too, because during one animated phone conversation, he actually sutured my tongue to my gum. My frantic grunts interrupted him, and he quickly corrected his error, muttering apologies.
Now, it was during one of these visits that I mentioned I'd love to witness an operation. The opportunity came sooner than I thought. One day, I found myself at Bentley Hospital. I was scrubbed clean, gloved and suited up in scrubs, and led into the operating theatre, where my friend was about to remove a woman's wisdom teeth. I was introduced to the team as a mature entry student, hoping the ruse would not be exposed.
As I stood there, and the patient drifted off to sleep, the anaesthetist inserted a laryngoscope to guide the endotracheal tube down the patient's throat, and I felt my head spin. The room started to darken, I broke out in a sweat, and I knew I was about to pass out. I had to leave the theatre momentarily to regain my composure. When I returned, my dentist friend was yanking out teeth with such force that fragments ricocheted off the ceiling scattering around the operating theatre. For extra leverage he had one leg up on the operating table. Never did I imagine such brutality could occur.
The whole episode had me questioning my earlier fascination with surgery and left me rather hesitant about my own pending wisdom teeth removal, now some forty years later.
As for my entrepreneurial dentist friend, last I heard, he sold his practice. I guess he retired. Perhaps he’s on a luxury yacht moored in Monte Carlo enjoying the fruits of his labours, no doubt with a phone to his ear making deals. His penchant for juggling dentistry and deal-making will always make me smile, even if I missed those fireworks all those years ago.