APPARENTLY ONE of the things you do after your freshman year in college -- besides get a job waiting tables because you have heard you can make $200 a night in tips -- is get your wisdom teeth pulled out.
There is a sudden epidemic of wisdom teeth extractions among my daughter's friends -- so much so that you'd think you could get a tan doing it. Absolutely everyone is scheduled to go under the pliers this summer, and those who got done with finals early were the first in line. No sense wrecking your whole vacation waiting for this unpleasantness.
We were supposed to get ours removed last summer.
Jessie had been complaining of headaches and a sore jaw during most of the spring of her senior year of high school and it made sense to get her teeth out before she left for college.
The family dentist and the X-rays showed that, indeed, her wisdom teeth were putting pressure on everything but her GPA, so we made an appointment with the oral surgeon.
Remember when your kids were too young to understand what the doctor was saying? Remember when the pediatrician spoke privately to you in his office so as not to alarm your child with information she was too young to understand without panicking?
Well, apparently that ends at age 18 because the oral surgeon felt compelled to tell Jessie -- not me privately -- all the dreadful things that would happen if the extraction of her wisdom teeth hit a snag.
"Numbness, paralysis, bleeding, infection. ... "
I have to admit, my eyes began to glaze with fear when I heard the list. Apparently, absolutely any bad thing can happen to you while in the chair, from hair loss to toenail fungus.
Jessie was hearing her own version of the doctor's list of what could go wrong: "You might never meet the man of your dreams, you might never have children of your own, you will never be able to put together a decent outfit again. ..."
Well, Jessie's eyes got very wide and filled with tears. I rolled mine and knew we were outta there. She wouldn't have agreed to have her wisdom teeth out if the Tooth Fairy was leaving Benjamins under pillows.
Time passes, time passes, and, sure enough, as soon as Jessie is safely ensconced in college 4 1/2 hours away, her wisdom teeth begin to hurt like mad. She can no longer chew and her sinuses aren't draining, although that might have been because neither she nor her roommate dusted for eight months.
By the time I got her home from her freshman year in college, she was practically on a liquid diet, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, we were the first ones in the door at the office of the oral surgeon, who pulled Jessie's teeth out as easily as sliding melting Popsicles out of their paper sleeves.
"Much easier this year," he said. "Glad we didn't try this last year."
You and me both, pal, I thought.
We maneuvered the woozy and bloodied child home, where she slept off the anesthetic, and we waited for any one of the dreadful complications to set in.
Not more than 24 hours later, Jessie's cell phone rang. It must have been a call from the Holy Spirit because my daughter leapt up from her straw pallet, threw off her wooden crutches and stripped off her leper's rags.
She straightened her hair and dusted her face with a new bronzing powder and pulled together a perfectly scandalous outfit (at least that prophecy did not come true).
It was a miracle! A miracle!
In just minutes, Jessie was out the door to meet her friends.
Most of whom are getting their wisdom teeth out this summer.
I wonder if I should call their mothers and tell them what to expect, or just let the dentist do it.