Recently I went for my semi-annual six-month checkup at the dentist.
The mere mention of the word ‘dentist’ tends to strike fear into the hearts
of, well, men. Personally, I have always loved the dentist, and have never
had a bad experience there.
As I lay back in the dentist chair, waiting and willing to accept the water-precision instruments she was about to insert into my mouth, she began to strike up a conversation with me, as most dentists do for some inexplicable reason. Of course, I had warned her as I walked into the room that I had come to her office with a mouth full of popcorn and pop, having just seen an afternoon matinee.
“So did you like that movie that you saw?” she asked, as the hygienist sat down on my other side, readying herself with the instrument that would save my outfit from certain destruction, the sucking tube.
“Uh-huh,” said I, the best that I could with an open mouth.
“Did it have a good storyline?” she asked.
“Uh-huh,” I replied, “Ha harah hoo hii hehoha hey ha heh.” (Translation: I’m starting to like Nicolas Cage again. [I had just come from seeing ‘Adaptation’])
“Really?” she said as her laser-pointed water shot up underneath my gums. “You know who I really like is Patrick Swayze. He’s always playing the strong, sensitive roles, where he actually seems to care about everything that’s happening around him. In ‘Ghost’, he played the perfect husband, who cared for her so much, even after he was gone. And he’s a great dancer. He gets my heart fluttering.”
The hygienist stuck her sucking tube inside of my mouth, pulling on the inside of my cheeks.
“What,” she began, “You’re not a Van Damme woman?”
“Oh please,” my dentist said, taking away the precision water screecher. “He’s just so annoying.”
As the hygienist took the sucking tube out of my mouth, and as my dentist searched for her hook scraper (please forgive these terms, I am not a dentist nor do I ever plan on being one, therefore I have my own names for these instruments of torture they use on us), I carped the diem and said, “Well, since I last saw you, while I was in New York City this summer, I met my movie boyfriend.”
The dental team hesitated, their instruments held upright and poised.
“Movie boyfriend?” they asked, obviously unfamiliar with the Entertainment Weekly and Cosmopolitan term.
“Yes,” I said to my dentist, “you know, you have your Patrick Swayze in ‘Ghost’, and you,” I turned to the hygienist, “you have your Van Damme.”
“Ah,” my dentist said, making me lean back in the chair, “and so who is this movie boyfriend of yours that you met in New York City?”
“Viggo Mortensen,” I said, opening my mouth, ready to accept her hook scraper, as I tasted the last bit of blood from my tender gums drip onto my tongue. “You might know him from ‘Lord of the Rings’.”
At this, the dental staff paused to look at each other.
“Oh, there were some mighty nice-looking men in that picture,” said the hygienist.
“Yes,” said my dentist, “lots of nice hunks. I liked the blonde fellow with the long hair. And I liked the one who died. Which one was yours?”
“The one who cried over the one who died, “ I said, as she lifted the hook away from my mouth for an instant.
“Ah,” sighed the dental team in swooning harmony.
My dentist bent over me, searching my newly-cleaned teeth for bits of stubborn tartar near the gum line.
“You know what it is about that movie,” she said, as she scraped the inside of my upper right bicuspid, “It’s not just that these men are really nice-looking, because they are. But it’s that they get things done.”
The hygienist and I widened our eyes in concord.
“You see, that’s what makes these men so attractive,” my dentist continued. “They say they’re going to do something, and then they actually go out and do it. They say they’re going to get firewood, they go out the door, go to the forest, chop down some wood, and bring it back. One says he’s going to accompany the four hobbits on a quest, and he does it. They say they’re going to fight a battle, and they do it. And they do it without complaining or griping about having to do it. They just know it has to be done, and it gets done. That’s what women want. A man who says he’s going to do something and actually does it. Without any excuses or complaining.”
She took the hook scraper out of my mouth, and squirted me one last time with the rinsing hose, as the sucking tube grasped for all of the spittle.
“You see,” my dentist continued as she took away her tray of torture instruments, “In the real world, men don’t do anything. They either ignore you, pretend to not hear you, or, they try that trick of doing a lousy job, saying to themselves ‘oh well if she wants it done better then she can do it’. My ex was the best at that. I would ask him to set up something from Ikea, and then he would say ‘where are the tools?’ knowing full well exactly where he had left them. But he expected me to bring them, then he’d set up the furniture, and leave the tools lying around on the ground, waiting for me to pick them up. Movie men pick up their own tools, clean up after themselves, without one single complaint.”
I have been thinking about what my wise dentist said for the past few days, especially in relation to our current obsession with the Fellowship men. Aragorn is a man who gets things done, who takes on his burden without complaint, who internalizes his dilemma, but goes straight ahead, and completes his journey and his task. Frodo is a hobbit who gets things done, who takes on his burden naively, but still, with no complaint, who undergoes an immense internal struggle battling the evil of the trinket that he carries, but in the end, in spite of himself, he gets the job done. All of the Fellowship are so attractive to us simply because they get the job done.
Of course, I argued this theory with my often-jealous husband, a real man in the real world, who has, on occasion, tried the tricks of real world men to escape from “getting the job done”. His answer to me was simply, “Well, with all of the art, poetry, photography, painting, poems, songs, acting and politics that Viggo’s involved in, I’ll bet that he doesn’t get things done, too.”
My response from behind my sly smile was simple, as I glanced at my wall-hanging of Aragorn out of the corner of my eye.
“Of course, honey. That’s why I’m here with you.”