I must comment on one remarkable feature of living here in this nordic capital, Oslo. And that is my dentist. Over the years, traveling here there and everywhere, the visit to the dentist was mostly an horrific experience. Now, at long last, I actually look forward to the visit. My dentist greets me with smiles and laughs, giving me the feeling that he is delighted to see me, not just as a patient, but as a person with whom he can banter and joke (in English) in a way not often done here. (Norwegians tend to need a bit of alcohol in the system to laugh freely and spontaneously, although this dentist, ever so Norwegian, is a friendly as they come.)
During my most recent visit, with no carries to fill, no teeth from hell to deal with, he was even more garrulous than usual. (I haven’t yet seen the bill, perhaps he charges me for the time we are laughing?) Just before leaving, I commented on how old-fashioned my teeth made me feel – as they clearly show a different time lived in.
“Young people all have such pretty, white and straightened teeth. Mine are…”
” No!” the dentist exclaimed, not even letting me finish. “Your teeth have personality!
Now all the young people look the same. They open their mouth and there’s no story to tell, nothing to see that makes them special or unusual. Look at me!” he said, and opened his mouth wide.
And sure enough, it was like an afternoon at the theatre. The dramatic way his teeth expressed a life lived; the playful spaces between; the soft twist and stance of other teeth all making it easier to see him, to know him.