“Open,” he whispered huskily into my ear, and I obeyed, spreading my lips far apart, arching my neck to demonstrate my eagerness to please the man who was prodding the inner recesses of my body.
“A little wider. A little bit more. Thaaaaat’s it,” he said, as I opened even wider, thrusting my chest forward, hoping to win his approval.
The air felt rarefied, thinner than the air of ordinary existence. I floated in an atmosphere of finer and more frequent vibrations, where my senses tingled and shimmered, where all pain magically vanished. The man continued his agonizingly slow journey, gently caressing my face as he explored territory deep inside me. Music was playing, but it was indistinguishable, the music of the spheres, a series of high vibrations that seemed to both surround and fill my body. I breathed deeply, inhaling the colors of ecstasy.
Suddenly everything shifted: The sweet air thickened, steadily blunting the blissful sensations. The voice of Tammy Wynette, mundane and whiny, screeched from the tinny radio. I opened my eyes and there was my dentist, efficiently pulling instruments and cotton out of my mouth and telling me not to eat for a few hours.
I crashed to earth with a thud. This was not the first time I’d had ecstatic experiences under nitrous oxide in the dentist‘s chair, and it undoubtedly would not be the last. But in between visits to the adorable man who probed my cavities with such tenderness while I greedily snorted nitrous oxide, there would be months of ordinary life to endure.
I’ve had a long history of severe dental problems, beginning in adolescence, that have continued, domino-like, right through middle age. I’ve encountered every kind of tooth doctor, from incompetents at dental schools to a New Age quack who treats “dentophobes” with hypnotherapy and psychobabble. The worst was a certifiable sadist who repeatedly struck one of my teeth with an electric prod; as he came at me for the fourth time I kicked him in the balls and was subsequently banished from his clinic.
But this is not meant to be a gruesome tale: the human spirit is remarkable in its ability to adapt, and adapt I did. Some might label me the ultimate masochist for finding an erotic charge in the dentist’s chair, but while I concede that elements of S/M are certainly at play here, it’s not the entire picture. Yes, the pleasure-pain continuum is an obvious factor. And yes, the dentist’s white coat and position of authority puts him in the “master” role. But more significant, I believe, was my intuitive realization that if I could activate what we now know are endorphins, I could ease the pain inflicted by dentistry. Early on, while prone in the dentist’s chair with my mouth forced open, I closed my eyes and thought about the wondrous source of pleasure I had only recently discovered–sex.
I was, after all, 16 when my career as a dental patient began in earnest, when X-rays revealed that two of my baby teeth had never fallen out and the permanent teeth were impacted. Treatment involved extracting the baby teeth and ripping away the gums in order to pull down the permanent teeth. This was 1962: no nitrous, no sodium pentathol, no ether–just Novocain. Lots and lots of Novocain. Up my nose, down my throat, into my cheeks. The procedure was so brutal that the only way I endured was by taking refuge in “trashy daydreams,” as Joyce Carol Oates calls them, so common to adolescents. During the long ordeal of freeing my impacted teeth I would mentally focus on my latest sexual discoveries with boys, from petting to finger-fucking to oral sex and finally intercourse. This was a two-year process; by the time it was over I was married (no, no, not to the dentist) and a mother-to-be.
“For every baby you lose a tooth” may be an old wives tale, but in my case it proved to be pure science. The two teeth I respectively lost were, of course, the ones that had been forced out of their impacted state –they’d never lined up properly, and rotted away. By the time I was 22 I had two kids and two frontal bridges; as the years went by the bridges separated and had to be replaced with one six-tooth structure. Enamel behind on either side began to shift and rot, and today I sport a nine-tooth wonder of modern dentistry requiring vigilant care, including a cleaning every three months.
Sex fantasies combined with nitrous oxide have gotten me through all this. The first time I was given nitrous I had a psychedelic experience, with colors swirling behind my closed lids. The second time I had an orgasm.
I’ve had crushes on several of my dentists: It doesn’t matter what he looks like; simply by virtue of using his fingers to explore my mouth while I lie back passively he becomes, to my mind, a sex object. Should I grow bored with the dentist, I close my eyes and think about everything from my boyfriend’s cock to Dolly Parton’s tits. The tools or fingers inside my mouth become fleshy cocks. The words “Open wide” or “Hold still now” become sexual commands.
These days I eagerly look forward to dental treatments–in fact, they’re the most relaxing moments in my frantic life. My current dentist is an enlightened sweetheart 15 years my junior who believes that with no pain we all gain. He gives me as much nitrous oxide as I need to rocket into the stratosphere; in fact, the front page of my chart reads “DO NOT TOUCH WITHOUT NITROUS.” (He knows about the dentist I kicked in the balls.) This goes not only for broken fillings, caps and root canals, but for cleanings as well. For the heavier work I get Novocain once I’m high on the nitrous, and if I flinch even slightly, up goes the gas.
With pain removed from the dental situation, my consciousness is fully free to wander. Occasionally–particularly as I get older–I enter a philosophical state where, like William James who regularly used nitrous to explore his psyche, I glimpse cosmic truths. Still, my mind invariably drifts into the realm I discovered early on could save me: not above my head but below my waist.
Every serious pursuit, whether it be stamp collecting or scuba diving, involves setting and attaining goals. For years my goal as a dental patient was to repeat my one and only orgasmic nitrous oxide experience. When it occurred I was stunned: without any physical contact, my cunt spontaneously spasmed. I’ve heard all those horror stories about predatory dentists who take advantage of their zoned out patients, but I’ve never encountered one. Even high on nitrous, I’m aware enough of my surroundings to know if I’m being fondled; when I climaxed it wasn’t because of any hanky-panky on the part of the dentist.
No, my orgasm arrived unbidden as a blink or a sneeze, the only assistance being a headful of nitrous and sexual imagery. This was all the more startling since I’m one of those women for whom orgasm during sex, whether partnered or solo, is a long hard climb; sometimes I don’t even make it over the top. So this event loomed large in my life as singularly unique–until last week.
It was a big dental day: I needed two caps and a cleaning, so I’d be in the chair for more than an hour. The technician moved the nitrous oxide tank into position, fetched my personal orange mask out of the drawer, and hooked me up. (I’ve come to regard these preparations as akin to primitive pre-nuptial rituals, where the village women prepare the bride for her studly groom.) Usually I get hooked up, take a few inhalations, and am still fairly lucid when Dr. A. comes on the scene. But today he was having difficulty with another patient, and I was left alone to inhale the holy nectar for what must have been fifteen minutes.
Fifteen minutes on nitrous oxide is a long time. Suddenly I found myself laughing hysterically, with the receptionist and technician on either side of me, frantically removing the mask and asking if I was okay.
Okay? Hell, I’d never been happier; they don’t call the stuff laughing gas for nothing. But the technician told me she would have to lower the gas level.
“What’s wrong with laughing?” I protested.
“We have other patients here,” she said, laughing herself, “and you were really crackin’ up.”
The lower level of nitrous frustrated me, and when Dr. A. stuck his nasty needle full of Novocain into my gums I let out a howl. He apologized profusely, and agreed to raise the gas, but it was still below my normal level. In a few minutes he began filing or scraping or whatever barbaric method they use to prepare a tooth for capping. I felt the pain, and let him know it with grunts and menacingly jerking limbs. He gave me more Novocain.
The situation was dire; I felt almost as desperate as when my impacted teeth had been ripped from my gums. I closed my eyes and began a steady inhalation; reversing the yogic technique of longer exhalations, I inhaled as much as I could manage and exhaled as little as possible. I conjured up a recent sexual memory and entered into it fully, imagining hands on my breasts, objects in my cunt, words in my ears…
My cunt contracted, slowly at first, then building, spasming painfully around emptiness, but providing exquisite release. I couldn’t stop my hips from bucking slightly, and I must have let out an unusual sound, because Dr. A. drew back, alarmed.
“There’s no nerve in that tooth,” he said, genuinely distressed at having caused me pain. “It shouldn’t hurt.”
“Uuuuuuuungh.” I grunted and nodded, forming an “okay” sign with my thumb and forefinger. My cunt was happily twitching, at the tail end of orgasm.
Dr. A, being such a considerate lover, now turned the nitrous up full force. Since I’d just come, my body was released into an entirely new plane of sensation. As had happened to me before on nitrous oxide, I saw everything in my universe as inextricably connected: pieces of my life flashed before me on a continuum, each event leading inevitably to the next, each a profound learning experience. And every person I’d ever known seemed to fit into this jigsaw puzzle called my life, every one of them there for a reason.
I opened my eyes and benevolently watched Dr. A. as he earnestly worked on my teeth, his movements not barbaric but intensely purposeful and caring. Suddenly I could feel a physical connection similar to the emotional connections I had been seeing: there was a direct line from my teeth downward, through sinew and muscle and bone, through every organ and orifice–including my cunt. No wonder I’d always been turned on in the dentist’s chair! My teeth were connected to my nerves and my cunt, and any stimulation in one part could cause a reaction in another.
Suddenly the song “The leg bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the foot bone…..now hear the word of the Lord,” popped into my head, and I began laughing hysterically.
Uh oh. Alarm all around. Down went the nitrous, off came the mask, concerned faces peered into mine. My laughter turned into tears of joy, for I wanted to kiss Dr. A, his assistant, and the whole damn world. Glory halleluliah, I’d found religion and sex as they were meant to be experienced.
But of course I couldn’t tell them; if I did, they’d probably lock me up or, at the very least, I’d never get nitrous oxide again.
“I’m all right,” I assured them in a whisper. In a world where both cosmic visions and sexual responses are seen as signs of mental imbalance, mine must remain secret.
Marcy Sheiner is the editor of a dozen collections of erotica, including Herotica 4-7, Best Women’s Erotica 2000-2005, and The Oy of Sex: Jewish Women Write Erotica. Her sex stories, essays and features have been widely anthologized, and her book Sex for the Clueless was published by Kensington Press in 2001. You can read her at http://www.marcys.wordpress.com and her memoir of mother/daughterhood at http://www.marcysmemoir.wordpress.com.
She also lists her writing and editing services at http://www.marcysbookbuster.wordpress.com.
“Open” was originally published in Guilty Pleasures, edited by M. Christian.