DENTAL HYGIENE

 

Jasper was a dentist, and a very good one. He loved his work: to see the mouths open (albeit reluctantly), to set the drill buzzing, to hear his own voice intoning the words for his assistant to enter in the file: “occlusal ... buckle ... gingivitis in the left upper quadrant.” He loved his crisp white jacket, the spectacles with the enlarging circle, even the inaccurate aim of some of his patients when they spat into the bowl.

What he wanted most of all (next to an increase to his record of fillings per day) was a girl-friend. And here was the problem.  All women seemed to require kissing as a precursor to any kind of intimacy. And Jasper had a fastidious dislike of putting his mouth close to anyone else’s. It started as a forensic thing; he wanted to improve their bridge-work, or at the very least to comment on it. He noted the number and age of their fillings. The sweetest women had the trickiest dentition.  And when he came to kiss them, to try to open his mouth and touch their tongue with his, he found himself absolutely paralysed. They were like him: they were not like him. They needed work done. They might bite. Many potential partners were lost because of his fastidiousness. It was not enough for them that he should nuzzle their necks. No, he noted sadly, they all wanted the Full Oscular.

 

Perhaps there might be a way round it. One very pretty girl went to bed with him, and he thought well, I’ll kiss her down there and perhaps that will get us to the next stage. So down he went. So far so good: she tasted like the sea, and her pea-like clitoris bore no resemblance to a dental crown, and all was well. But not for long. He felt something sharp against his tongue. He opened his eyes, parting the downy lips slightly, and was appalled to see something small and white. It was a row of baby teeth. Good God, he thought, no wonder she has been so irritable: she’s bloody teething.

 

That was the end of kissing. Jasper was bereft, for he certainly could not risk putting anything else - his penis, for example - into something that might bite, or need amalgam. It would be tactless to wear a dental dam.  And yet a life without female companionship was unthinkable. What kind of woman did he want? He ticked off his requirements: healthy, energetic, presentable, not sexually needy, not squeamish about standing in during a patient emergency. And then it came to him with the speed of an arrow: he needed a lady who liked dogs.

 

At once he acquired a Golden Retriever, an amiable beast whom he called  Floss (although he himself preferred inter-dental sticks). On his walks with Floss, he met scores of women: ruddy, lively, down-to earth females. When he overheard some women patients praising Monty Don, Jasper bought some corduroys and braces to wear on his walks, and was astonished at the effect on his walking companions. Soon he had his pick of nice-looking females to accompany him to the Round Table dinners, or the dentists’ conferences: and as their emotional slack was taken up by their dogs, the women didn’t seem to require kissing of any sort. And so Jasper, on the beach with Flossie and his doughty, sensible girls, was happy at last.

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© 2020 by Sue Harper

feminist gothic literature | tales of the macabre | fantastic and supernatural | gothic fiction | written by women | gothic literary tradition | gothic fiction | supernatural | fantastic and paranoia | literary female gothic | gothic narrative | stories of transformation and surprise | sue harper | short stories | feminist gothic literature | The Dark Nest | portsmouth university | emeritus professor sue harper | feminist gothic literature | tales of the macabre | fantastic and supernatural | gothic fiction | written by women | gothic literary tradition | gothic fiction | outstanding achievement award | british association of film, theatre and television | professor of film history at portsmouth university | film, media and creative arts | british academy and the arts and humanities research council | stories of transformation and surprise | sue harper | short stories | feminist gothic literature | The Dark Nest |