Last week at the dentist, I had to endure a full ninety minutes of drilling, pinching, poking, clamping, and lip-stretching, plus an additional ten minutes of biting into gooey and gross substances, and -- to make matters worse-- I wasn't in the good hands my normal dentist, a family friend who's been doing my teeth since I was six and still calls me "Davey" . . . or "Marc," if he mixes me up with my brother . . . but he was swamped and so I was given to the other dentist in the office . . . a young Asian lady who works with her own assistant . . . but this didn't faze me because I had adopted a new dental persona for this visit (though I nearly chickened-out and skipped the appointment entirely . . . I almost drove by the Milltown exit and started towards the beach . . . I really didn't want to waste a day-off at the dentist's office) but once I got it into my head that I was actually going to this appointment, despite some serious white-coat anxiety, then I decided to conquer my cowardice and become a new patient, a bad-ass patient, and so I kept saying to myself: Behave as if you are a bad-ass . . . a veteran of the war in Afghanistan . . . a member of a motorcycle gang . . . a guy who wrestles alligators . . . a not a guy who likes to play soccer and tennis and reads poetry out loud for a living . . . and I pulled it off, I did a damn good job of it, I didn't complain, I only required one break (when I had to cough) and I didn't require any laughing gas or extra novocaine . . . and this was despite the fact that my dental team offered no encouragement whatsoever during the procedure -- these two were all business, they gave me no time frame -- unlike my dentist, who is constantly bantering, saying things like "Halfway done, Davey, just two more roots in there" -- but these two never said "boo," except when they chastised me for not raising my left hand high enough when I had to cough because I was drowning from my own phlegm . . . and so I endured ninety minutes of drilling without complaint, and when it was finally over, I expected a little something for the effort . . . maybe not total consciousness on my deathbed, maybe not a lollipop, but something . . . some acknowledgement that what I went through was painful, tedious, and uncomfortable, and that I handled it like a seriously bad-ass dude (but I guess a real bad-ass doesn't need confirmation that he's a bad-ass) but I got no such praise -- no compliment on my stoic attitude and uncomplaining mien -- and so I tried to fish for a little bit of appreciation . . . I said, "I hope I can talk tomorrow, or I won't be able to teach class," but this didn't work -- the mean assistant said, "You can talk now, you'll be fine," and then she left, and I realized that these two had no appreciation for my work, and probably expected people to behave the way I did . . . and so I will never behave that way again; next time I'm going to rinse every three minutes, take bathroom breaks, hit the gas, request a radio station, and generally bitch and gripe to my heart's content.