The dentist

Saturday: The dentist. Two more new fillings and the replacement of an age-old nugget of amalgam that recently cracked. Every time the drill closes in on a nerve you picture a tiny fibre wiggling at the bottom of an enamel crater. Like a loose power cable. You are straining hard to please with a mouth open as wide as you can manage. Using what is available of your facial muscles to convey to the drillman the approach and onset of raw pain: eyebrow language with added eyelid wince for emphasis.

Once, a moment of unconcealed panic and the automated start of a complete body scrunch. A twitch from your toes to the crown of your head that should have ended with you slobbering in a foetal curl begging for mercy.

You feel a peculiar intimacy with these two people after one and a half hours alone with them. Presumably not reciprocated. They’ve seen you at your most vulnerable and possibly most pathetic. The assistant has wiped sweat from your brow and provided the occasional consoling pat on the shoulder. The dentist has guided you  step by step with softly spoken instructions and manly encouragment. And all the while you have been fountaining saliva from the back of your throat into their perspex-visored faces without a word of reproach.

For a change in the afternoon, a family outing to join a demonstration against petrochemical plant expansions in the south and centre of Taiwan. Good people all around, a lovely cross-section. The beauty of civil society.


City streets a blur

Home by high-speed cab

At 2 a.m.

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