A couple of dangerous curves

This issue is fairly innocent, unlike the one exactly a year ago. You gazed upon a half-naked guy with tattoos on the July 1996 cover. But there are a couple of sharp, dangerous corners within these pages to watch out for. Go too fast and you`ll slam into a brick wall. Injured, you`ll get all irate. Maybe even call your lawyer. "I hurt myself reading this magazine ... RDH. The editor`s name is Mark. I want you to sue him for millions."

Mark Hartley, Editor

markh@pennwell.com

This issue is fairly innocent, unlike the one exactly a year ago. You gazed upon a half-naked guy with tattoos on the July 1996 cover. But there are a couple of sharp, dangerous corners within these pages to watch out for. Go too fast and you`ll slam into a brick wall. Injured, you`ll get all irate. Maybe even call your lawyer. "I hurt myself reading this magazine ... RDH. The editor`s name is Mark. I want you to sue him for millions."

So this is my gentle warning label: Watch out for the corners. If I were you, I`d watch out for that corner turning into the Dialogue questionnaire on page 14. We have listened to many readers sigh in exasperation about the "wife." No, we`re not talking about my wife. It`s too soon after Mother`s Day and a mere few days until our anniversary to crack one-liners, ala Henry Youngman, about Mrs. Hartley. We`re talking about the dentist`s wife. Is it an old wives` tale, pardon the pun, about dentists` wives? Are they absolutely stark-raving mad? Would you really rather be tortured by Saddam`s henchmen than work for his wife anymore?

Inquiring minds want to know. So, with apologies to hygienists who have married dentists and male spouses of women dentists, RDH would like to find out the truth. What is the good, bad, and ugly about being in such close proximity to her, the dentist`s wife?

My second word of caution is directed to consultants who read RDH. You see, if you turn to page 8 too fast, you`ll run smack into the Perspective column. Heidi Emmerling does a good job of roasting you real slow over the coals. If readers agree with the column, and hygienists have any influence on the trend of hiring a consultant, you may never work in Toothtown again. Try finding a job in Tinseltown instead.

Actually, I disagree with Ms. Emmerling. Although she pens some delightfully colorful images of the insanity that runs amok when a consultant comes a-calling, consultants are good for the dental profession. Why? Editors and golfers need consultants every once in a while. Why shouldn`t dental professionals need one? The English language is such an evolving system that it`s impossible to say that a college professor`s standards of even five years ago are current. So I take refresher courses or, yes, listen to a consultant.

Golf is an even better analogy. If you love the game, then you know that every once in a while, you visit a "club pro" (a consultant disguised in a polo shirt). The first question asked is, "Have you ever played golf?"

Even if you`ve played for 40 years, your reply is, "No, I`ve never played. Why does the handle feel so funny?"

The pro smiles, and says, "Well, that`s fine. Why don`t we start with holding the club correctly. For example, you`re now holding the club by the wrong end. If you`ll just grab the other end, we`ll talk about the grip..."

It`s all in the fundamentals. Everyone should refresh themselves on the fundamentals, no matter what they do. A good consultant offers an impartial opinion on what may be bad business practices. Hopefully, they`ll mention something more useful than the way you hold a telephone receiver.

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