Life, Living, Becoming...
Gerry Coughlan

 Fight or Flight

By way of explanantion: As I remember things, so I write. In other words, there is no chronological sequence. I was about 6 years old.

There comes a time in every child's life when there are demons to be faced and one of my first was in the company of my Auntie Audrey. I think I may even have been taken out of school early for a dental appointment.

We waited patiently in the waiting room of the local clinic for our turn to see the dentist. I was certainly apprehensive. Unfortunately, I don't remember if this was my very first appointment or not but, no matter; there was someone in before me and they weren't having the best of times. This was the sixties, there was no soundproofing. A single door separated the "waiting" from the "victim".

My turn came and I was ushered in alone. I was shown to the big, huge chair by the assistant. The dentist wasn't there. He was probably cleaning all the blood off himself, I reasoned but I didn't have to wait long. He smiled at me and turned to his huge stainless steel cooker on the counter. As soon as I saw the lid come off that thing, followed by tumultous clouds of burning liquid, I was out of that seat in a flash - ran like the clappers past my Aunt and didn't stop till I was safely in the street across from the dental building where no one could sneak up on me and carry me screaming back to the dental chamber.

My Aunt tried to talk sense to me but she hadn't seen the sterilising unit with it's huge tongs and god knows what inside and I was having none of it.

She was mortified and furious. We walked home in silence and that was the beginning of my relationship with the dental profession.

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