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Dope Slap

          The other day my good friend Gertie gave me a Dope Slap, and I was so grateful to her, I went out and bought her a bouquet of flowers. Had anyone but a trusted friend gently guided my attention to the fact that I was wallowing in self-pity, I think it might have been black roses I bought them. But it wasn’t, so I didn’t. It is distressingly true that my life has been a veritable cornucopia of miserable fortuities as of late. Even if you failed to notice the dizzying array of obvious woes ranging from death threats to lawsuits and the lack of heat in winter despite a liberal application of money to two otherwise respectable firms who claim to be in the business of providing heat to paying customers…even discounting those deserving woe-is-me-moments, you’ll have to admit that the deal with the dentist was the last straw.

          Dentists, like heating contractors, are, presumably, in the business of providing a service in exchange for money. It’s a simple enough equation: we make an appointment, agree upon which sort of service is to be provided for how much money, and then I show up at the agreed-upon time, open wide and suffer for a while, then pay up. I’d done this exact thing with this dental office perhaps five or six times in the past, and it went off without a hitch. This time, on the other hand, it was all going grandly until I got to the office at the appointed time, braced for the inevitable surfeit of uncomfortable and intrusive instruments about to invade my big mouth, when I found that the door to the office was locked.

          I double checked my date book, into which I’d stapled the appointment card which I had been given six months ago (how else to remember an appointment so distant?), and sure as sugar, right there it said, big as life: be here at 3:40 on this day. I checked my watch and found it to be 3:42. Dazed, I glanced at the parking lot and noticed a conspicuous lack of cars therein, then looked at my phone to be sure that it was still right around 3:40 on the day mentioned on the card. It was. I checked the door again. Locked. I started to leave, and then had the bright idea to check in at a neighboring dentist’s office to see if perhaps there had been a sudden and pervasive outbreak of leprosy or insanity which required the staff to abandon ship all of a sudden, but the receptionist hadn’t a clue. “I saw them there this morning” was all the information she could provide. She then helpfully dialed their number and handed me the phone. I left a message for them.

          It was a couple weeks before I thought about this again, and realized that they hadn’t called me back, so I called them. The receptionist said, with all the prim conviction of a liar that she was absolutely certain that she was there that day, at that time, and she had the timecards to prove it. She added that they had another appointment at 4:30 so she’s sure she was there. Well, I’m sure she wasn’t. Why would I make a thing like that up?  I drove 120 miles for the privilege of having ol’ stinky-breath, watermelon-digits make my gums bleed and tsk-tsk at my tartar, so why pretend?  So now you can see that that was, indeed, the straw. The last one. Camel?: off its pins, on the ground, groaning piteously and bloated, simply awaiting the blowflies. It was when I was cataloging this disaster aloud to Gertie that she figuratively whupped my butt and told me to stop whining.

          Sometimes I’m sure that the universe has a sort of party-line to each and every one of our thoughts. If you think enough about a fabulous, secret fishing hole you found, you can be sure that it won’t be long before it appears in the fishing version of the Michelin guide. If you dwell on the dreaminess of the eyes of your secret flame, for good or bad, said flame will take note. There’s a reason they say that if you’re a golfer and you get ready to take a stroke, and you look at that ball and think “I’m gonna slice, I’m gonna slice… I just know I’m gonna slice this shot..” you will. If you think “I’m gonna ace this!” you might and you might not, but at least you have a chance. That’s what Gertie meant when she gave me that look. She’d never tell me in so many inconsiderate words to pluck my head out of the sand, but I understood what she meant, and I did. At least that’s what I’m going to try to do. Chin up!  

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