My Dad’s dentist was Sylvan Simon, a very nice man with an office out on the town square in Twinsburg. This was the sixties—long before Twinsburg was Twinsburg. Anyway, once—my father swore—he was so afraid of an upcoming visit that when he got there he told Dr. Simon he just wanted to sit on the chair and chat. And they did…after which my father insisted he pay for the visit. “After all,” he assured me, “I took his time.”

I don’t like the dentist. At all. Indeed, if I were inclined to hate, I would hate the goddam dentist. I don’t though, as I’m mature… balanced. Still, the thought of going to one seems inhumane—so much so that I term it an “it” rather than a “he” or “she”. I don’t like the dentist.

Can stand neither the smell of the office nor the phoniness of the magazines. (Why is it that only in a dentist’s office do we find CURRENT magazines?). And I certainly am not enamored by the fake smiles that greet you as they try to put you at ease. I mean, really: why must they seem happy to see us, why must they act as if we too will enjoy interacting. Really? Why would anyone in his right want to see a dentist? Why, for that matter, would anything in its right mind thrill at poking in someone’s mouth for sport?

Dentistry is the dark side of gynecology.

Ed. Note: Contrast this to the eye doctor. Walk into Lester’s office, why don’t you? Everyone’s pleasant yet everyone’s real. No staff does hand stands as you enter and, better yet, not once will you stagger out clutching your eyeball in pain.

Phil Passan, office above the old Mayflower Drug at Cedar Center, was my first dentist. These were pre-braces days. He was Al Bogart’s lodge brother, (go figure), and the best thing I can say about him was that he had no pretension. He never smiled.

And then, through a series of cosmic confluence of events, I avoided the dentist…

First, my parents’ marriage was crumbled. Second, and about the same time, it was determined I needed orthodontia. Bingo! What the absent father couldn’t see the deafened mother couldn’t hear. “Guess what,” I told her after a visit with Dr. Rabin, “You don’t go to the dentist as long as you have braces”.

Who says I didn’t have “game”?

Over time my mother lost not only hearing but focus. The next time I saw a dentist was the late ‘70s. and yes, it was another lodge brother.

Jerry Adelstein’s office was at Emery and Green. I really didn’t want to go but by then the wife was pushing me to “TakeCareOfYourTeethYou’reAFatherNow” and it was either lose my mouth or lose my mind.

I arrived early that Saturday—first thing. (Heeding my father’s advice of years gone by, I always made the first appointment of the day. That way they couldn’t be behind).

I was scared that day. (Not because by then Jacobson had told me about the time Jerry got the dental drill stuck in his chest hair. No, I just didn’t want to go).

“Look,” I told the Past Chancellor while ascending the chair, “I don’t want you to touch me. Let’s just talk.”
“Oh, B”, I’m just going to look.”
“Don’t look—really. Put down that spoon.”

We fought a bit, gently…but then he did. It was, truth be known, a wondrous talk we had. We laughed—about lodge politics…about our wives…and even about Jacobson.

Twenty minutes passed, give or take. It was time to go. Always my father’s son, I forgot not my manners.

“I expect to pay for your time,” I insisted. “Don’t be ridiculous” he said—in a tone that told me “Write the check.”

We shook hands and he turned away—me moving toward reception.
“$25.00” the lady said—SMILING, as I moved toward my pocket.
From a distance came Jerry’s voice: “Marge, don’t forget to give him the lodge discount!”.

Ah…memories. The good news is it would be a new millennium before again I’d smell the clove oil. The bad news is….

Today I will see a dentist. A nice man, his name is Marc Price and he doesn’t smile too much—just the right amount. Still, I don’t want to go. I’m afraid.

But my tooth is loose…and two weeks of yogurt’s enough. I’m manning up.

It’s an afternoon appointment—that’s all he had. I hope he runs late.
I’d be happy to read a magazine.


  1. Aunt Helen says:

    Are you referring to my Dr. Lester or your Dr. Lester? Please clarify.

  2. Stuart says:

    Make sure he has Highlights for Children in the waiting room. Then you’ll be just fine.

  3. bob says:

    Small world, my coworker and friend is Dr. Simon’s, may he rest in peace, son. He now lives in Atlanta and I’ll have to tell him his dad was in your Blog.

  4. Art in Heaven says:

    I already told Sylvan.

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