I’ve just spent two hours in the park looking for a man. I’ve been looking for a specific man; a man about my age with blond hair pulled into a ponytail like a surfer. I’ve been hanging around by trees, checking out every man that goes by, but to no avail. This rather laboured attempt at making you think I was cruising for gay sex is the end of a story that began on Thursday evening.
It’s not really anything to do with events that have followed, but on Thursday I went to see a dentist. It was the first time I’ve seen a dentist since 1987. That’s partly cos I’ve not had any tooth pain in the intervening 19 years, partly cos I couldn’t be arsed to go for a check up. And once I got beyond five years, it became a big weight, and I became scared of going and telling the dentist that I’d not been for such a long time. I confess this to the dentist before he has a look around my mouth. And he was amazed. My teeth are all healthy and good, he was shocked that I was a smoker, and aside from a build up of tartar which he scraped off, all I need is to go back for a proper clean and polish. The only bad thing is that now I can’t stop tonguing the back of my teeth which feel a bit rough after the tartar-scraping. So, as you can imagine, I was feeling super smug about my fab teeth.
Friday morning, I take Billy to the vet to get his yearly injections against diseases. He hates going to see the vet. This is him cowering in the waiting room:
Friday afternoon we go to the park. A couple of minutes into the park, Billy and a Jack Russell are playing and it gets a bit rough. The Jack Russell is biting Billy’s ear, and it’s all getting snarly. The other owner and I do our best to pull them apart. He (the owner) apologises, checks that Billy is okay, apologises again, then we go our seperate ways. About a minute later, I notice my left palm is slick with blood. As is often the case, one doesn’t notice these things when they happen. A kindly lady gives me a tissue, then Billy and I scuttle off home. I wash my hand, and it’s obvious that just one tooth has created the cut. Nothing serious.
But I go to the doctor anyway and get a tetanus jab. Then the doctor asks about the dogs’ injections. Billy has definitely had his rabies injection, and I assume that the other dog has too. But because I’m not sure which dog had bitten me, the doc suddenly starts to cover herself by making sure she knows that I know that I should get some rabies shots. The chances of the other dog having bit my hand are 50/50. The chances of that dog not being protected against rabies are pretty slender in this day and age, especially cos his owner seemed like a decent chap. But there’s still a teeny weeny chance. So I go to the local hospital, as advised by my doctor. They tell me that they don’t have rabies shots. This, frankly, amazes me. And the only place I could get this treatment is at the tropical diseases hospital. There they could give me a jab. And another after three days. And another after a week, then two weeks, then a month, then three months. Six jabs to save my life from rabies-death. Three of which would have to take place while I’m on holiday.
So I start to worry. Paranoia takes over a bit. Should I cancel my holiday on the slimmest of chances that a seemingly healthy dog was carrying a fatal disease? Am I just being Arthur? Is this tooth-based problem my just desserts for being smug about the health of my own teeth? Is the irony lost on me that a smoker such as I is worrying so much about something that is far less likely to kill me than cigarettes?
I’ve rationalised things, and decided that, yes, I’ll be okay. But just to stab the paranoia in the heart, I hung around in the park this afternoon for two hours hoping to bump into the man and his dog again. Sadly, I didn’t see him. I will go back at the same time tomorrow and Monday, if necessary. Hopefully I’ll see him and he’ll be able to put my fears to sleep.