Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chocolates for the Dentist

Yesterday I had to go to the Dentist

            I peeked. He held in his hand an enormous metal syringe.  He pushed the plunger, just a little, and a drop of novocain beaded on the tip.
            "Don't worry." He said. "I'm very gentle."
            "I know." I said.  "But I'm going to cry anyway."
            He took my shoulder in a warm, reassuring grip. "I know." He said. And picking up the needle, he slid it in as smooth and light and delicate as silk. I didn't feel a thing.

            And that, unfortunately, was the last mutually positive moment of the whole experience. I had my happy music cranked, and all was peaches and cream and roses, or it would have been peaches and cream and roses, but the drill was buzzing and there were things flying against my tongue, and holy hell, those things were bits of my teeth-
And there was a little moment where we had to put the drill away because of tears and a middle-size panic attack.
            My happy music is the original Broadway recording of Cats.  Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat is divine for diverting attention, but the track only lasts four minutes and fifty-five seconds, and if you accidentally turn off the repeat button during a panic attack, you get something different right when you probably shouldn't.
            "Here we go!" The dentist cried, changing  his drill bit for something smaller and pointier - "Turn that music up!"
            So I did.  And it would have worked a treat, if we'd been bouncing along with the Gumbie Cat in the chorus where the cockroaches and mice do all the tapdancing, but the drill roared and I cranked and got -
            "Gus!  Is the Cat!  At the Theatre Door -
            Limpid -
            Plangent -
            Exquisitely slow -
            And the music stayed exactly where it was for sixteen consecutive bars of what sounded like water dripping on stones.
            There was another little moment.
            After the dentist had wiped my face clean of tears with the little paper apron dentists make you wear around your neck, we switched to Australian shearing songs and sea shanties, and went rollicking around Cape Horn - "Heave Away! Haul Away!" and the Dentist breathed steady for three whole minutes - 

            Which was the point at which he got through the enamel of the tooth right into what felt like the nerve direct. I'm pretty sure I owe him a box of chocolates. The expensive sort. If he'd only been a leetle more aggressive with the novocaine at the very beginning-     
            He tried to make it right. He pulled out the needle again. And again, until I was bleeding like a stuck pig from all the needles, and it still felt like he was drilling right on the exposed nerve of my molar.  I was a wreck and he was almost crying. The poor dear soul.
            I begged for the gas. He told me that in Chile, gas was restricted to use on small children under extremely specialized circumstances and he wouldn't even know how to do it.  I asked if he'd ever had a patient panic and try and knee him in the chin and run.  He said "No", but winced, and took a my shoulder in a firmer grip.

When it was all over, he leaned back in his chair and looked at me. 
            "You know what I'd do now, Tabubilgirl?" He said. "I'd go find a nice bar and have a stiff drink. A pisco sour, maybe. Not just one. Line them up on the bar - a whole line of pisco sours. And drink every single one of them. One after the other. Doesn't that sound wonderful? "
            I definitely owe him a box of chocolates. And if we ever have to do that again, I'm getting drunk first. Not pixilated, not tight, not pie-eyed, norcock-eyed, nor bent, but firmly, solidly pissed. They're going to have to pour me into the chair.  Prop me open with those little rubber wedgies. I intend to snore beatifically and aromatically through the entire thing. 

            The dentist would probably prefer that too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Game-Day Buffet in the Physiotherapy Gym!

Half a minute after I took this photograph, a nurse arrived with five hundred thousand french fries, to go with all the pretty packets of mustard and ketchup scattered between the olive bowls and potato chip plates. The fries were exceedingly tempting, but the nurses and the physiotherapists and the orderlies beat me to it and I made it out of the scrum with one solitary french-fry in my hand. I wonder what all the cardiac patients thought?  All those middle-aged men with big bellies and scars down the middle of their chests and the daily lectures on healthy eating and do you want it to happen to you again?

            With the High-Noon Chile-Netherlands game playing in the middle of my session, physio today was a gas.  None of the 12:00 patients showed up, and the place was pleasantly empty and strung with bunting, and those of us who were left - with the audibly disappointed exception of those tied to beds by ultrasound or electrical equipment - decided simultaneously that we needed to do our cardio work right NOW, thank you, whether it was in our physio regimen or not - on account of how the bikes and walkers and elliptical trainers are all situated right underneath the big TVs.  And when we ran out of cardio we simply stayed. The physio staff didn't particularly notice. The game was on!
            The fellow who does hand rehabilitation was looking pretty twitchy. His setup is a semi-circular table - he sits inside it with a TV mounted over his head so he can monitor his charges while they load spindles with wooden buttons and tie shoelaces and watch TV while they work.  Fortunately for everyone in the gym, his last patient abandoned him at 12:07, and he could stop looking like a candidate for an imminent coronary, and come around to the other side of the table and watch.
            And then I left, because I had things to do and places to be and it almost killed me to go.  But I waited, listening for the city, but 1:30 came and -
            Nope.  Well, not exactly.  Not this time, anyway.
            And the city was silent as a tomb.

            And Mr Tabubil cleaned up scandalously in the office pool.  He's got to stop betting against Chile. Just for once.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cleats at High Noon

Today Chile plays Holland in the Copa Mundial.  At noon sharp.  High noon - soccer cleats and a leather ball on main street.  
Mr Tabubil's office is bringing in the big screen - again, and because the game runs over lunch-time, the bosses have ordered empanadas.  I wonder if the empanadas will arrive, or, if they do, if the delivery person will go away again or simply crowd into the conference room with everyone else to watch the game?
The smog is back, and the government is begging everyone to not go off and have a futbol asado (BBQ) because the city can't stand the extra smoke.  I wonder if it'll stand the extra noise?  If we do pull off a hat-trick against the Dutch Juggernaut and win?  We can't shout louder than when we won last week against Spain and made it into the group of 16. 
Fútbol is a religion, and Chile worships at her altar.  When she won against Spain on Wednesday the sound went on for hours and hour and hours.  I woke at 3 in the morning to horns, and cars parp-parp-parp!-ing along the streets.
But the moment it started - ah. Listen to a city going beserk -

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

That Darned Copa Mundial Keeps Happening

It's been a big day for the Tabubil Household! Australia played the Netherlands, and Chile played Spain. Mr Tabubil had 5000 pesos (USD $10) riding on Spain winning that one by two goals.
            "Two goals? Spain?"
            "Why not? They're coming off a ridiculously heavy loss to the Netherlands, so they've got the motivation.  And talking motivation - Chile and Spain have a rivalry going way back. It's going to be a grudge match.  And with the fire of past recent defeat burning in their bellies - "
            "Spain's also got the oldest squad in the cup, and Chile's having a real good season-"
            "-and after the way the guys in the office were swanking around after the Chile-Australia,  there's no way I wasn't going for Spain as hard as I could."
            "That explains the two goals, then."
            "One goal's only optimistic. Two's... ambiguous."
            "You're going to lose 5000 pesos."
It's certainly the first time I've seen a betting strategy that rides entirely on generating irritation in the other members of the pool. Testosterone's a real bitch.

In other news, Australia acquitted herself nobly against the team that took down Spain 5-1, and although she didn’t quite squeak out a win, she didn't exactly roll over either. 3-2, thank you. That's respectable, that is.
            And Chile clobbered Spain. I didn't watch the game. I let the city tell me, and tracked the goals and penalties by the roaring in the streets. Waves of rising sound - honking and shouting and cheering and screaming and drums and trumpets. And even now, the streets are flooded with the blue and red and cars are barping and honking their way up and down.  All over town. 
            I'm no fan of FIFA, or the economic politics of the World Cup, but dear lord, do I love Chile in soccer season.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Birthday Billions

Mr Tabubil's office is running a pool for how many points Chile is going to win by in the Chile Australia game today. The posted options run from 6 to eleventy-billion.
            Mr Tabubil has thrown in in a wild-card vote for Australia to win by one goal.  There was much derision, but, he told me smugly, his strategy is sound. 
            "If a miracle happens" he said, "and Australia wins, I don't have to share the pot, and when Australia doesn't win*,  I  gets points for being a Real Sensitive Guy who's sticking by his wife's country no matter what." He paused for me to appreciate his brilliance."It's even better than roses, Tabubilgirl. Happy Birthday."
            I squawked, and he sighed. "I was going to take you out for dinner, but if we could even find a restaurant with a functioning kitchen tonight, anyone silly enough to eat food cooked while the game's on deserves exactly what they pay for.  I figured we'd stay in, put some smooth music on the stereo, open a box of chocolates, and listen to the reverberations of a whole nation screaming Goooooooooooooooool
          Eleventy-billion times."

*And if Australia does pull out a hat trick and win the game, I knew they had it in them, and I knew it all the time, and no-one, but No-one, is a bigger patriot than me.  Seriously, Australia, give it your all.  Or my birthday night is going to be less romance, and all sniggering.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Six to Eleventy-Billion.

Tomorrow afternoon Chile will play her first game in the Copa Mundial - Chile versus Australia.  Chileans are rather passionate about fútbol, and I am Australian. Tomorrow afternoon I plan to hide.
Chile? Spain? The Netherlands? Australia?
            It's not exactly contentious that FIFA is as bent as a nine-bob note.  Most right-thinking Aussies around this way are presuming that the group Australia got was the result of someone at FIFA HQ being given lots and lots and lots of lovely money. 
            Mr Tabubil's office is running a pool for how many goals Chile is going to win by tomorrow. The listed options run from 6 to eleventy-billion.
            Can't they let us go down with dignity? On the basis that Australia's chances have been officially calculated at less that those of a snowball in the Sahara at mid-day in the sun, I'm not going down with the ship.

Chi. Chi. Chi. Le. Le. Le. Viva Chile.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

El Smog

Sometimes, the extraordinary in the everyday is more everyday than one would really like.  Here is my poor city yesterday at noon, drowning in its contaminación.  Santiago sits in a valley like a bowl at the bottom of the Andes, and in winter, when there is no
breeze to blow it away to torment other people elsewhere, it sits, and it grows, and it stays.

On the bad days - like yesterday - you can taste it on your tongue.

And at the bottom of the bowl, the smog is so thick that the sunlight lies like bars of grey soap on the streets...

(All photos courtesy of Charmaine.)