Pete Wentz settled into the crunchy paper covering of the reclining chair and grinned. His perfectly white, perfectly square teeth always got a feel good reaction. Underneath him, the rubbery vinyl let out an awkward groan like a giant fart. He squeezed his butt as if trying to hold back a real one, but soon unclenched with the realization that the noise wasn’t coming from him. Pete breathed a sigh of relief and folded his hands demurely in his lap. He liked for his smile to be the first thing people noticed when they met him.
Getting tired of waiting, and rarely in such quiet, Pete began to wiggle. The rubber soles of his sneakers banged into one another making a tap, squeak against the unprotected edges of the dentist’s chair. With boyish delight he continued squeaking. Then started drumming his fingers on the sides of the arm rests trying to make his own music. It didn’t really work, though, so he gave up.
On the overhead speakers, a poppy tune flared up and Pete’s ears rose trying to catch the lyrics. It was a Green Day song and bopped his head for a while. He could just hear the faintest outline of the words “do you have the time” at a droning whisper.
Just then the door opened behind him and he whipped his head around to shine his brilliant smile at the dental hygienist.
“Oh!” she gasped with friendly surprise. “You don’t seem like you’d even need to come in here. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such perfect teeth. They’re so white!” she exclaimed with pleasure, thinking how easy this appointment would go.
His smile just got wider, if possible.
“So, sweetie, let’s see here,” she said, drawing out a manila folder with his dental records.
“Okay, Peter, so, you’re due for a cleaning,” she said to herself, “Wentz, now I’ve heard that before. Peter Wentz.”
He let her think for a moment and let his face sink into a familiar humble side smile waiting to see if she would or would not think of it.
“Aren’t you one of those pop rock boys?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am. I was in a punk rock band called Fall Out Boy,” and he nodded his head a little and hoped she caught on, that he was punk.
“Wait…Peter, Pete Wentz. I think I heard something, about some photos you took of your…” her eyebrows were furrowed now and she looked a bit uncomfortable with having thought the word penis in the office, even if it was only in her head.
She shook her head to try and keep the image from rising to the surface but was clearly failing. Pete began to squirm in his chair. He knew she was thinking of the photos. And she knew that he knew she was thinking of it. She blushed a bright pink across her cheeks and forehead.
“Okay, let’s get this going,” she croaked. Her friendly demeanor dropped. This might be more than she bargained for, Pete thought. Then she cleared her throat and got down to business. Only a few minutes had passed and Pete felt a little disgruntled at her rushing through. His teeth were, after all, very important to him.
As she left he tried to give her a winning smile, though it was somewhat marred by the dried bits of spit in the corners of his mouth. She replied with only a mild curve of her lips, without showing even a bit of tooth.
Pete slumped down in the chair, waiting to hear the garbled chatter of gossip behind the closed door as the hygienist was most definitely sharing her experience with Pete Wentz, the punk boy whose dick was all over the internet. He rolled his eyes. Usually the dentist was one of his favorite things, but it had quickly descended into another celebrity sighting. He was thankful he no longer wore eyeliner.
The dentist came in on tiptoe and gentle drew the door closed behind him.
“Mr. Wentz,” the dentist intoned seriously. There was touch of teacher like presupposed disappointment in his voice. Like he had called on him to answer a question he was sure Mr. Wentz wouldn’t be able to answer correctly. Determined to turn it around, Pete smiled big and reached out his hand for a handshake.
The dentist shook it, but instead of looking him in the eye, he was staring down at the hand with a slight bugged out look in his eyes. After a while of hoping it would end, he opened his eyes, and saw that the dentist was already removing the gloves.
“Alright, Mr. Wentz, we’re done here,” the dentist said, turning away to throw the gloves into the trash. “There’s the beginning of a cavity in a few of your lower molars. I think we should just go ahead and fill them at your next opportunity.”
“What?,” Pete asked, stunned.
“Well, yes. You seem to be just passing through when you’re brushing. You should be more meticulous in your brushing, young man. The ladies at reception will set up your next appointment.”
And without another word the dentist left. Pete removed the bib and sat up straight, shaking his head side to side in complete wonder. Then he walked out to the waiting room to get his next appointment. He set his card down on the counter and waited for someone to acknowledge him.
From the desk, Pete could see through the window into the waiting room. The hygienist from before leaned through the door into the waiting room, with a genuine smile glowing across her face.
“Sid,” she called like a loving mother.
A long pole of a guy unfurled himself from one of the squishy armchairs. His black jeans were cut up and strings dangling from his exposed knees. The grungy t-shirt hung loose around his bony shoulders. Pete stared, and his eyes squinted, his mouth hung open.
“How are you Sid?” the woman asked politely, “Not getting into too much trouble, I hope. I heard something about a riot at your last show.”
She sounded sweetly concerned. Then she led Sid Vicious, whose hands were tucked into his pockets, his long stringy hair swinging, to the back. She patted him on the shoulder as he walked through the door and they chatted down the hallway.
He looked around in amazement, waiting for someone else to notice, but no one seemed to care. Then he saw it. The whole waiting room was full of punks. They all seemed to be in need of dental work. Joey Ramone was adjusting his round sunglasses over his nose, his legs crossed politely out of the way of foot traffic. To Joey’s right, Mick Jones flipped through a Home & Gardens magazine. Kim Gordon stared at her boots. And Iggy Pop fingered his goatee in his long fingers while Siouxsie Sioux retouched her lipstick. The woman at the computer was taking down Billie Joe’s insurance information.
“Fuck, what’s a guy gotta do to get noticed?” Pete wondered aloud. They turned to him at once and stared for a long moment. Siouxie whispered something to Iggy. Pete shuffled his feet in embarrassment, hearing the word poser audibly drifting across the room. He’d heard it plenty of times. This time there was a cavity.
But it just wasn’t big enough. No one could appreciate the gesture of grungy solidarity. It was too small. So, a bit abashed, he just went ahead and set the next appointment to get it filled.
This piece was inspired by the Fall Out Boy song “Coffee is for Closers” given to me by Trebez. I hope this short story is appreciated. You can read her eye-liner punk boy inspired piece here.