GRAND, BIZARRE #6
Maxillofacial Surgery in Nişantaşı
by J.A. McCarroll
January 17: 10 30 A.M.
I?ve yet to develop the skills to identify the many odd instruments that get played in Istanbul Metro stations. The one that is 10 meters from me in the extraordinarily yellow Osmanbey metro station is making a plaintive, plinking, noise, kind of like what a music box in a juvenile detention facility would sound like. Unsurprisingly, the instrument?s trapezoidal case is not weighed down by too much cash. In the fifteen minutes I?ve been standing here, I?ve seen exactly one person deposit money in it, and that was the musician himself. I believe this process is known as ?priming the pump,? or alternately, ?lying.?
I?m waiting for my girlfriend in order to take her to dentist, which I think might be latin for ?Pervert,? or at least ?untrustworthy and addicted to ether.? I don?t mean to ruffle feathers here, but if your job consists of looking into heavily medicated people?s mouths and slashing them up with a tiny razor, you probably have no compunction against filling their sinuses with lighter fluid or getting a bit grabby. In the US, dentists have the highest suicide rate of any profession. Me, I say ?good riddance.?
January 17: 10 31 A.M.
She is now officially late to our meeting time. I hope this means that she has chickened out for her scheduled operation, a wisdom tooth removal. By virtue of my huge mouth and fantastic genetics, I will never have to go through such an operation, but I?m still free to speculate on how it will go.
Scenario One: They break the tooth in her mouth and vacuum the shards out.
Scenario Two: They flay her gums open and work the tooth free from her living skull.
I?m horrified that she?s spending money on this procedure, as I?m pretty sure that most dentists would do it for free, provided they could listen to an audio stream of screaming women on their ipod, and/or take pictures.
January 17: 10 34 A.M.
?You?re late. You don?t have to do this.? I greet the soon to be victim, who claims to be ?glad? to get rid of the tooth and to miss a day at the office. ?Listen,? I say, ?I just want to re-iterate that you ??
?John,? she cuts in, ?I know the drill ?? I wince at her word choice and think about how many types of bacteria live in the human mouth, and the gaping wound that?s soon to grace hers. Human beings, along with monkeys and Komodo dragons, possess ?fight bites,? which means that if you get our saliva in your bloodstream, things are going to start rotting off. It?s facts like these that make me so nervous about any kind of maxillofacial surgery and also that make me such a hit at parties.
January 17: 10 47 A.M.
This is my second time in Nişantaşı, a neighborhood that is only fifteen minutes from my house. I?ve been meaning to come here and explore for over a year now, but I thought I didn?t have nice enough clothes. It turns out, I shouldn?t have worried; like the rest of the city, everyone here seems to be pretty well swaddled in long black coats and grey scarves. Furthermore, I?ve counted seven girls who have the exact same glasses as I do, and strikingly similar hair cuts. The jury is still out on whether or not this is good sartorially, but I?m sure it will lull the dentist into underestimating me, should I have to affect a dramatic rescue.
January 17: 11 03 A.M.
Istanbul is frankly riddled with hospitals from different countries, a trend I can neither understand nor endorse. In my own neighborhood alone, there is a German Hospital, which suggests order, cleanliness, and perversion lurking under the surface (probably in the dental wards), as well as an Italian Hospital, which I assume is some kind of dark ironic joke. Similarly, the name of the hospital scheduled to maim my girlfriend in fifteen minutes is the American Hospital. This inspires absolutely no confidence, especially as an American. What it does suggest is that the surgery will be incredibly expensive, not covered by insurance, and that the doctors will be highly skilled at removing bullets and performing gastric bypasses. On the plus side, they seem likely to give her a ton of painkillers, and I could use the pocket money.
January 17: 11 11 A.M.
The dentist?s waiting room is cream colored, with comfy chairs and very kind looking receptionists. Unfortunately, it is also echoing with a child?s screams. I don?t like or understand children, so I can?t tell if it (the child) is in pain or merely wanting attention, but it?s really setting me on edge. The magazine I?m looking at, which is running a pictorial spread of Erzurum, and which features a ton of close-ups of Cağ Kebap isn?t really helping. My girlfriend is being very uncooperative. She has refused to ask if I can monitor the surgery and has told me twice to ?stop being a grouch.? She suggests that I might have a phobia about dentists; I suggest that she?s a ?sheeple? and that the high rates of dentist suicide suggest they have nothing to live for.
?I?m totally ready now,? she informs the dental secretary, for like, the third time.
January 17: 11 17 A.M.
The dentist is two minutes late. ?I think they canceled your appointment,? I whisper. I am ignored.
January 17: 11 22 A.M.
Just when I start to get into the Erzurum article, a nurse comes out, laughs at my girlfriend?s name, and calls her to the back room. I yell out at their retreating backs, ?Don?t let him put you under!? There is a new child sitting across from me, playing recklessly on the waiting room chair. I?m torn on whether I want her to fall or not.
I decide I don?t, but wind up being pleasantly surprised when she eventually tumbles over.
January 17: 11 34 A.M.
I?m practicing deep breathing and clenching my fists in the waiting room mirror. I can?t believe this is taking so long. The receptionist has asked me twice if I?m okay and has told me once where the restroom is, which was probably a suggestion to stop doing this, but whatever, she?s probably used to it, working for a monster. I take one of the business cards from the reception desk and slide it into my pocket, just in case I need evidence later.
January 17: 11 48 A.M.
I catch a glimpse of the dentist himself, leading my puffy-cheeked girlfriend back from his abattoir. Before I could get a good sketch, he calls the girl who fell back into his office. One thing I can say, though, is that he looks exactly like what a Nazi War Criminal posing as a Turkish Dentist would look like.
As she fills out the paperwork, my girlfriend explains that ?the swelling will go down,? and shows me her prescription for Ibuprofen.
?You?re joking me,? I say, as my profits fly out the window. ?Ibuprofen? That man cut your face from the inside.?
?Yeah, well,? she says, out of the good side of her face, ?This is the easy one. Next month we?re taking out the other two. He says that?s going to be a more difficult surgery.?
?See you soon,? the receptionist smiles as we leave. I have to bite my tongue to keep from screaming.