When ... felt a sharp shooting pain in his mouth last week, he made a firm decision not to call the dentist to get it checked out. As he explains, “I am as afraid of dentists as I am of sharks and clowns, and neither sharks nor clowns are likely to come at your face with a drill.”

Through an amazing combination of fear, procrastination, and denial, ... has actually managed to avoid seeing any dental health experts for all of his adult life, and plans to keep it that way. According to ..., “In the past, the toothaches have gone away after awhile, sometimes at about the same time that the tooth rotted away. So why go see a dentist this time? Anyway, they'll probably just scold me for having cavities.” As in the past, ... has devised a plan of brushing the problem tooth extra hard until the pain subsides, the tooth disappears, or he has incorporated the pain into his overall perception of reality.

When, in the middle of a sensitive operation, local dentist Sherman Vincent was asked about ...'s plan, he flashed a toothy grin, revved his drill to a shrill whine, and said “I don't advise it, but to be honest, I'm not bothered by this type of thing. Sooner or later, these slackers will have to come crawling back, at which point I'll recommend a root canal and some bridge work.” When Dr. Vincent's patient was asked to comment, she said something like “mummphramrgg krrannggmmrss,” to which Dr. Vincent nodded in agreement, quipping “you should think of your pearly whites as jewels, not tools.”

While ... is coping with his bout of intense tooth pain, he is trying to avoid hot liquids, cold liquids, hot solid food, cold solid food, anything chewy, everything crispy, nuts, berries, and manual labor. He remains optimistic about his situation, saying “It only hurts when I breathe or speak. OUCH.”