I Won’t Do It and You Can’t Make Me
“I won’t do it and you can’t make me.”
Hutch rolled his eyes at the petulant child act that Starsky was putting on. What was the big deal with going to a dentist anyway?
“Starsky, I got you an emergency appointment. It’s for your own good. You can’t back out now.”
Starsky shook his head vehemently and refused to get out of the car. “No. I said ‘No’ and I mean it.”
“Yesterday, you made me promise to make you go.”
“That was yesterday.”
“Starsky? It’s not going to get any better by itself, is it?” Hutch pointed out the obvious. “If it was going to, it would have done it by now.”
“But I’ve already lost a tooth this week. I can’t lose another one!” Starsky suddenly wailed.
“That’s another thing you need to get checked out,” Hutch suggested, trying not to let his irritation show at Starsky’s juvenile behaviour. “You know, see if the hole’s clean and see if they can give you a false tooth or something. Otherwise you could get an infection and you don’t want that. It would be even more painful than the toothache you got now!”
“Not possible,” Starsky grumbled holding his face again.
“Buddy, you’re going into the dentist if I have to knock you out and carry you in myself,” Hutch declared. All his attempts at cajoling had failed. It was time for some tough love.
Starsky looked at the grim set of Hutch’s jaw and suddenly deflated.
“All right…Will you come in with me?”
“Ah, are you scared, little boy?” Hutch teased. “Want me to hold your hand?”
Starsky’s cheeks went red and he shook his head. “Forget it. Never mind,” he muttered. He set his shoulders as if about to face down an armed felon and got out of the car.
“Hey!” Hutch scrambled out of the car and followed Starsky as he slowly made his way to the front door of the dental centre. “Starsky…I thought you were kidding but you‘re really scared of dentists, aren’t you?”
Hutch felt sorry that he’d teased his friend. “Okay, I’ll come in with you if you want me to.”
As they walked through the door, Starsky hesitated and looked as if he was thinking of turning tail. Hutch took his arm and steered him through to the reception. Beads of sweat were visible on Starsky’s face and he’d turned a very odd colour. He looked like he might be sick.
“Hello, how can I help you?” The receptionist smiled at them both.
Starsky stared silently ahead so Hutch answered, “David Starsky to see Dr Shaw.”
“Take a seat. Dr Shaw should be with you shortly.”
Hutch led them both over to the waiting area and they settled on a small beige sofa that was opposite a tank of tropical fish. Starsky peered into the tank, trying to catch glimpses of the brightly coloured fish as they zipped in and out of their hiding places.
“This reminds me of Dr Levin’s waiting room in Brooklyn. Man, I used to love looking at that tank!”
“But you didn’t like Dr Levin, huh?”
“Nah, he was okay. I liked him. He was my dentist till I was about nine, I think. Then he retired and this new guy came. He had evil eyes. I didn’t like him. His name was…Dr Freudenstein.” Starsky shuddered.
Hutch regarded his friend for a moment. “Did he do something that scared you? How come you didn’t like him?”
Starsky stared off into space, trying to remember. “He had cold eyes. He’d smile at Ma and she would chat away to him but his smile didn’t reach his eyes. And when he looked at me…I don’t think he liked kids, Hutch. He was scary. Me and Harry Denman used to call him Dr Frankenstein. I wasn’t the only one who thought he was creepy.”
“Well, I guess that would leave you with a lasting bad impression of dentists,” Hutch agreed.
The door opened and a short man in a white jacket came into the waiting area.
Starsky swallowed and looked at Hutch with wide eyes that said, “Help me.”
Hutch stood up, pulling Starsky to his feet. He looked at the doctor. “My friend here has a phobia of dentists. Is it okay if I come in with him.”
“Of course,” Dr Shaw said. He added reassuringly, “I’ve treated other adults with phobias. It’s more common than you think.”
Starsky swallowed again but tried to smile. “Really?” he managed to ask.
“Yes. I do understand and I promise to do my best to make you comfortable.”
They walked into the dentist’s room and he indicated the comfy chair to one side. “Why don’t you sit there, Mr Starsky, while I just take a look inside.”
“You don’t want me to sit in that thing?” Starsky asked pointing to the large grey chair set in the middle of the room.
“Not yet, no. I’ll just shine a light in your mouth and see what’s what.”
“All right if I sit down, “Hutch asked, indicating the dental chair.
“Be my guest,” Dr Shaw said as he busied himself with getting small torch and a tool with a mirror on the end of it.
“Okay, Mr Starsky, I understand you’ve lost a tooth and have one that is causing you pain. If you could open wide and just let me take a look?”
Starsky did his best and managed to open his mouth fairly wide. Dr Shaw made little noises as he looked at Starsky’s teeth.
“Okay, you can close your mouth. All in pretty good condition but I can see the one that’s causing you trouble.”
“Has it got to come out?” Starsky asked.
“No, I think I can just put a filling in. Before I do that, I’ll take an impression of your teeth on the right hand side so I can make you a false tooth for that hole you’ve got there.”
Dr Shaw proceeded to mix up some gooey stuff and got Starsky to bite down into it. After a few minutes, it went hard and he pulled it from Starsky’s mouth.
“Excellent,” Dr Shaw said. “Now, I’m afraid you will have to sit in my chair for the next part but you have two choices. Lots of dentists use anaesthetic as a matter of course but I know it can make some people feel awful so I try not to use it unless I have to. I would prefer to give you an injection to numb the area around the tooth and then do the filling.”
Starsky had swapped places with Hutch but he now looked pale at the mention of injections. He looked at Hutch.
“Up to you, pal,” Hutch said.
“Maybe I’ll have the gas. I-I don’t think I can face an injection.”
“All right,” Dr Shaw said. He looked at Hutch. “Will you be able to keep an eye on Mr Starsky this evening and make sure he doesn’t have any ill effects.”
“Yeah, no problem.”
Starsky breathed in the anaesthetic and started to look a bit sleepy. “Man, that’s good stuff,” he mumbled incoherently.
Dr Shaw proceeded to clear out the infected tooth and then apply the filling. Hutch who had always got on okay at the dentist started to feel a little ill himself. It was one thing having a dentist check your teeth and do what needed doing. It was quite another thing to watch him work on somebody else. Hutch almost chuckled at the thought he might have a phobia of the dentist after this experience but he was glad he was able to keep Starsky company. At one point as the drill made a horrible screeching noise, Starsky’s hand shot out sideways seeking reassurance and Hutch squeezed it to offer his strength.
Eventually it was over. As they left, Starsky stumbled a little as if he’d had one too many drinks and Dr Shaw warned Hutch to keep an eye on him for the next few hours and not to let him drink alcohol, operate any machinery or drive.
Hutch helped an increasingly out of it Starsky into the car and drove him home. He helped him up the stairs to his apartment and settled him on the couch.
“Hutcsh. Stay and have a beer with me?”
“I’m staying, buddy, but we’re not having any beer.”
“How come?” Starsky asked, looking confused.
“You want something cold to drink?” Hutch asked, as he walked over to the fridge.
“Soda, soda, soda. Make mine a soda, barkeep.”
Hutch rolled his eyes. Starsky was more drunk than when he was drunk. He hoped the effects of the gas wouldn’t last for long. He handed Starsky a can of soda and joined him on the couch.
“Wanna watch a movie?”
Starsky launched himself precariously at the TV, turned it on, fiddled until he found a channel with baseball on and then lurched his way back to flop onto the couch.
“I don’t feel so good.”
“It’ll pass,” Hutch said. “Maybe have the injection next time, okay.”
“Okay…You’re a good friend, Hutcsh.”
“Best friend in the whole world.”
“Thank you, again.”
Starsky drank some of his soda noisily and then burped.
“I been thinking about yesterday.”
“What about it?”
“Why’d ya do it?”
Hutch was completely at a loss to recall what Starsky could be referring to. “Why’d I do what?”
“Give Belinda money? Whatcha do it for? Ya know she’s just gonna buy dope with it.”
Hutch sighed. “I know, buddy.”
Hutch sighed again and turned to face Starsky. “It’s because I do know that’s what she would do. I knew exactly why she ratted out Vic. Anything for a fix… I know exactly what that feels like, what she was going through ‘cause I went through it myself. But she’d got nobody to help her out of it, Starsk. I had you. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. Belinda’s got nobody and she needed a fix. I know it was stupid, I know it will only make her feel better for about a minute but I felt sorry for her. You understand, buddy.”
Starsky nodded. “I guess.” He took another sip of his soda and looked at Hutch with intense concentration. He ran his tongue around his mouth. Then he announced, “I can’t feel any of my teeth. Did Dr Frankenstein take them all?”
“No, buddy, he didn’t take any of your teeth. I didn’t let him.”
Starsky patted Hutch’s leg. “You’re a good friend, Hutcsh,” he said, as he passed out.
Hutch took the blue and white sneakers from Starsky’s feet and lifted his legs up onto the couch then covered him with a blanket. He sat down on the chair opposite, prepared to keep a watch over his friend for the next couple of hours. Hopefully, Starsky would sleep it off and feel better.
He looked at his friend’s face and shook his head with a smile then whispered, “You’re a good friend, too, Starsk. The best, in fact.”