Gamblers, graffiti, and girls

June 1, 2003
Dr. Margaret Scarlett, the editor of Woman Dentist Journal, paid a visit to her editorial colleagues at Dental Economics, Dental Equipment & Materials, and RDH magazines last week.

By Mark Hartley

Dr. Margaret Scarlett, the editor of Woman Dentist Journal, paid a visit to her editorial colleagues at Dental Economics, Dental Equipment & Materials, and RDH magazines last week. We had a nice chat, and she brought along a copy of The Oprah Magazine. Dr. Scarlett thought it was important for us to know what Oprah Winfrey tells her huge audience about dentistry (as far as I can tell, Winfrey is very complimentary of the dental profession).

The conversation then turned to spas. No, we were not talking about dental offices that desire a pleasant-sounding spin on the name of an office. We were talking about actual spas where dentistry happens to be available too. Please understand that I'm from a generation that still refers to all of the zillion varieties of athletic footwear as "tennis shoes." "Son, have you seen my tennis shoes?" "Well, I saw your Nike Shox Walx by the kitchen table. Are those the pair you're looking for?"

So my tongue also tends to trip when trying to pronounce "dental office" as "spa."

I can't say, "Bud, you're looking tense. Here's a number for a dental spa you should call. Knock your teeth back a couple of shades and then get a soothing massage."

If I could say it, I admit it would be better than what we used to say. "Bud, you're looking tense. Imagine that you have to go to the dentist's office today, and they're sticking that buzzing chainsaw into your mouth. Are you starting to put your current feelings of tension into perspective? When you go home tonight, ask the wife to massage your neck, and you'll feel even better."

When there's a conversation about Woman Dentist Journal, I, of course, tend to float along in that parallel universe known as RDH magazine. I wonder why? Actually, Terry Mingee, an author appearing in this issue, is a male hygienist. Austin Risbeck is another male hygienist who has written for RDH recently (January 2003). I think it's a good thing that the guys are writing down their thoughts for the magazine.

But after discerning some differences between male and female dentists during Dr. Scarlett's visit, I started wondering about the registration process at dental hygiene schools. Do the registrars have the following conversation with male freshman students?

"Mr. Smith, welcome to dental hygiene school. You've probably heard that dental hygienists often room together when they travel to continuing education seminars. You're probably envisioning slumber parties, pillow fights, and late-night pizza with the girls. I want to make sure that you understand that you're bunking with the male doctor. The doctor usually will watch Newshour with Jim Lehrer and then it's pretty much lights out.

"Now if you'll just sign here where I'm pointing ... Where did he go? Has anybody seen that guy who was standing here in my line?"

Actually, as far as I can tell, male students have a great time in dental hygiene school. It's probably the best kept secret in the whole US of A. In fact, the secret should be shared, and the toilet stalls of men's restrooms are an ideal place to start. "If you're so bored and lonely that you're reading the graffiti on these walls, here's the number for the local dental hygiene school. Get a life! Enroll today and become a dental hygienist!" Before the deans pull out the stationery and start to write their letters to me, allow me to point out that I'm well aware of the vigorous screening process involved with dental hygiene schools. Pathetic losers who spend way too much time in the restroom are hardly viable candidates to become dental hygienists.

Speaking of pathetic losers, at the last RDH Under One Roof conference in Las Vegas, Dianne Glasscoe told me she was shocked when she noticed — en route to an early morning seminar that she was conducting — that the gamblers were already wagering. The author of the Staff Rx column often refers to herself as a "country girl," and she was just taken aback that the gaming tables are busy 24/7. I told Dianne that my regret about the Las Vegas conference was that I didn't get to do my "poetry readings." Admittedly, I am the editor, and I am biased. But some of the stuff that RDH authors are writing is sheer poetry to the ears, and I wanted to share some of it with the Under One Roof audience. But I faced time restraints during my introductions and never read aloud the poetry that makes my job so enjoyable.

As far as I can tell, hanging out with RDH writers is a very good reason to attend the Under One Roof conferences. Next month, the fourth Under One Roof conference will kick off in Chicago. Check out the ad on pages 85-88 for more details.

Mark Hartley is the editor of RDH. He can be contacted at [email protected].