Thursday, October 1, 2009

Laughs at the Dentist's Office

Many Bay of Banderas gringos go to a dentist in Vallarta who runs a sophisticated practice. Gleaming treatment rooms, state-of-the-art gear, a slew of hygienists in matching white lab coats---it’s what we know and feel comfortable with. But still, after one visit there, I returned to my long-time Bucerias dentist, Adrian, and his one-room, one-dental chair office.

Adrian charges less, does a decent job, and most important, gives me terrific material for stories around the dinner table. Like the time he cleaned my teeth (he can’t afford a hygienist) while simultaneously eating a “torta Cubana” that his latest assistant had rushed in to him. He was forced to schedule back-to-back appointments with no time for lunch, he explained, now that his divorce had left him broke. “Sali de Guatemala y entre a Guatepeor/ I went from bad to worse,” he said, and we all laughed.

Or the time another patient, a Canadian who is also a personal friend of Adrian’s, pulled up a chair a few feet away from me while Adrian worked on one of my molars. He smoked a couple of cigarettes and told us all about the nine-foot sailfish he’d caught and released the day before.

Adrian’s assistants are good story material, too. They come and go, each one prettier and younger than the last. No lab coats hide the curves of these beauties; low-cut clinging tops and tight jeans are the uniform here. They banter with Adrian and gossip about the patients; he bosses them around affectionately, calling them “dearest,” “my love,” and “heart of my heart.”

In my favorite story, Adrian was preparing to bond one of my top front teeth. The light in the office was too dim to do a good color match, so he suggested we step outside into the sunlight. Passers-by walked around us on the narrow sidewalk as I positioned a hand mirror in front of my open mouth, Adrian held up color strips next to my teeth, and we decided on the best shade.

For the record, two years later, my persnickety dentist in California commented on the nice bonding job. “And the color is perfect,” he said.

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