Self-proclaimed grand poobah of leisure and author of humorous suspense novels The Sneaker Tree & White Picket Prisons, the humor essay book Fifty Shades of Phil and the long running blog The Phil Factor. thephilfactor.com
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Phil of the Future
I went to the dentist yesterday. Look Ma, no cavities again! Yaaaa for me. I have an extensive history with dentists dating back to when I broke a tooth in the second grade. That one broken tooth has resulted in all manner of dental interventions from two root canals to several different caps and a post drilled into my gum and I assume the bone underneath. In fact, an oral surgeon once uttered “Oops!” while working in my mouth. That’s reassuring eh? I also had a wisdom tooth that needed to be broken out of my jaw piece by piece with a hammer and chisel, while I was awake. Despite all of that, I have no fear or anxiety about dental procedures. In fact, for me the most frightening part of going to the dentist is… receiving the appointment reminder postcard in the mail.
What? Yes, that’s right. The appointment reminder card freaks me out. Every time. Again, not because I fear the dentist. I like my dentist. We chit chat about our kids who play baseball. My hygienist is delightful and I’ve seen her for the past 15 years. It feels like I’m just visiting old friends when I go to the dentist. So why does the appointment reminder card freak me out? It’s simple. It’s because the reminder card is in my own handwriting. At the conclusion of each appointment I’m handed a postcard on which I dutifully fill out my own name, address, and next appointment. My hygienist then takes the card and five and a half months later mails it to me.
So why the freak out? I’ll return home on any idle Tuesday and get my mail. As I rifle through the assorted bills and junk mail suddenly I come across a handwritten postcard that stands out because it’s handwritten, as so little mail we receive these days is. Usually when I receive mail with a handwritten name and address I don’t recognize the writing. This time however the writing is oddly familiar. I know it, but at first I don’t know to whom the script belongs. I think, “why do I know this writing?” It’s just a brief moment, but for some reason I hate that moment of knowing that I recognize the writing but I’m not certain whose it is. It’s kind of an eerie feeling as if someone is fucking with me. Like it might be a serial killer dressed in a clown costume taunting me by mail before he stalks me in earnest and eventually sneaks into my house to leave my bunny boiling in a pot on the stove for me to discover. Yes, for that one tenth of a second before I recognize my own handwriting, it’s that kind of thing that flashes through my mind. Is it just me, or does everyone else hate getting mail from themselves?