Dental staff and others bite back over column |

Dental staff and others bite back over column

Most of you know by now that I royally angered the local dental community with last week’s column satirizing my dentist and her technician. Gee whiz, who would have thought sadism, torture, anatomical exploitation and a chimp could cause so much outrage?

One woman telephoned to call me an “ass,” another chastised me for picking on a woman dentist, and a man called to suggest my column belonged in Mad magazine.

Several e-mailed, too: “This was one of the most poorly written columns I have ever seen in a professional publication. For future reference, if you want to pretend you’re funny, please make fun of only yourself and not other innocent people who have worked very hard to get their education, establish a career and treat their patients with utmost respect.”

And I received a bunch of, “What were you thinking!?”

With these admonitions in mind, I roamed the aisles of a local grocery store Tuesday night searching for just the right truckload of chocolate and dazzling bouquet of flowers.

I eventually found what I needed, checked out, drove home and waited.

For 13 hours.

A colleague had told me that night as I left the office: “Boy, are you in for it.”

That’s because my dentist, Celeste Eckerman, had graciously agreed to continue our professional relationship. I was to appear before the Eckerman/Groelz et al. tribunal at 9 a.m. Wednesday to have three more teeth filled.

“What’s the worst that could happen?” I asked myself. “Let’s review the facts …”

1.) I alienated my dentist, her partner and everybody else in the local dental office.

2.) Ditto to just about all of their relatives and probably most other dentists/technicians/hygienists, etc., in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and most of the Midwest.

4.) In the morning, Dr. Eckerman will drill my teeth with a little gadget that goes “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee.” But first she’ll numb my gums, mouth, jaw and tongue so that when she asks me if I’m OK (which she frequently does, bless her), I’ll answer, “Yeth.”

5.) After that, she’ll remove my old fillings with a metal tool that looks like a nut pick. Then, she’ll mush the new filling material into the little tooth caves she’s excavated.

6.) BUT: What if she’s still mad when I settle into the dentist’s chair?

Ten hours and counting …

It’s morning. How the heck did it get here so fast!?

I arrived at Dr. Eckerman’s office, flowers and chocolate in trembling hands.

I opened the door, caught the eye of office manager Connie, and … she smiled!

“Phew. So far, so good,” I thought.

Soon, Drs. Eckerman and Groelz strode toward the waiting room where I anxiously sat. They smiled, too (friendly smiles, not a “We’re grinning because we’re about to twist your head off and bowl with it” smile.)

To top off the reception, the whole staff wore special name tags to mimic my previous column. They read: “Dr. Jack Zipper,” “Dr. Hear-me-Roar,” “Ms. Thunder Bottom-Dollar,” “Ms. Bottom Line,” “Hot Lips” and “Trish ‘What a Bottom.’ ”

At one point just before the procedure began, Trish breezed into the exam room, leaned down to show me her nametag, and proceeded to … well, doggone, I’m too embarrassed to say. It was fun, though.

So, to Drs. Eckerman and Groelz and their whole staff: Thanks for your good-natured ribbing and professionalism.

— Paul Dunn is editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He can be reached at (530) 542-8047 and

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