• Liz Lopez

A Date with my Dental Hygenist

Oh you don't socialize with the person that cleans your teeth? That's so weird because I do.


Thanksgiving, 2017

Scene: Playing O'Pishaw around the dining room table with our family after Thanksgiving dinner

Me, asking my seventy-five-year-old aunt a million questions about her boyfriend, because we all know she loves talking about him and I'm a few rum and diets in

Jean's answer to every question "I don't know Lizzy, I just haven't asked him"

My response "Well what the hell is this Jean!?! How long have you been with this guy? I know my freaking dental hygenist better than this!"

The Story

Rewind about seven years. I was in my late twenties, three step-kids but still, by all means, a child. I could not prioritize my day, and every damn time I had a dentist appointment, it felt like I just couldn't get out of work (this was mostly because I didn't know about the appointment until the day of when my phone texted me the 'hour before' reminder). I would have a meeting I couldn't cancel (because I didn't plan for it) or the kids needed to be picked up; it was always something. My dentist's office finally called me, after several cancellations, and told me that if I canceled another appointment, I would be banned from their clinic.

That was unacceptable; they're ten minutes away and were highly recommended! Get your shit together twenty-something mom of three! Good gods.

So under duress, I made it to my appointment, thankful all these years later that I did! It was there I met Tammy, who not only is famous in my family but who I finally, years later, have moved into the category of friends.

It started innocently enough, just making small talk, and her holding my metaphorical hand as I was operated on for my first cavity. She knew it was all Lopez's fault because he was always bringing candy home and at the time, we'd easily put a pound of candy down in a weekend. I'm sure she found me interesting; the lady in her twenties, working as an analyst at a Fortune 500 company, with three step kids and a husband at home, and the step kids are ours full-time because their mother committed suicide after stalking me for months. You'd think this doesn't come up a lot, but back then it did, when I looked so, so young.

Then I learned about Tammy's family's heartbreak as well; her brother-in-law had terminal brain cancer. Yes, they made it through a clinical trial of an experimental drug, and yes, they did make it to Europe like he wanted to before his passing, but it was heartbreaking nonetheless. He left behind Tammy's sister, far too young to be a widow, and a two and four-year-old. I learned about Tammy's kids and her son's half-ass ADHD diagnosis and her family's vacations and their trips to St. John's with another couple they always went with (this one sans kids).

I learned we share an intense love for Kesha's Rainbow album. When Kesha came to town, I wanted soooo badly to ask Tammy to go, but I was terrified that would be so weird. But I knew zero other adults who listened to Kesha, let alone wanted to go to the Rave with me to see her, mid-week, at the very last minute. But when I told Tammy at my next appointment I'd considered asking her, she said she absolutely would have gone, and I should have asked. Dammit!

And lastly, at my post-Barbados dentist appointment, I learned the most significant update since my leaving the country. My dear friend, my dental hygenist, is going to be a surrogate! As I'm giving her weird, confused looks, she explains it's something she always knew she wanted to do and at 38, time was sadly ticking. She heard from a family friend they were looking into surrogacy and it seemed the stars had aligned. She went for embryo transfer this week! I can't imagine the joy felt by this other family, who get to have their own baby due to the kindness of another man's wife, other children's mom, who is sharing her womb to grow another family. How absolutely amazing is that?

The Meet

Tammy was so jealous of our trip to Barbados! We were at the point in our relationship where I always took her first appointment of the day when I came in; she said it was the best part of her week when she got to see me first thing in the morning, and she always put extra time in the calendar for our appointments to catch up. Plus by then we were Facebook friends, so she could totally follow my family's adventure there and read all about it on my blog.

Then I went to Barbados, realized I don't care about my house, my yard, and just want to do things that make me happy. So when I saw Tammy for my appointment, we put a date in the calendar for two weeks out and we just did it, we had dinner and drinks at Matty's like real-life friends. Let me tell you, I loved every minute! Sometimes you have people where the conversation flows and you're both laughing and you're loving the back and forth stories and you have so many side topics that you're constantly saying 'Oh now back to this convo, we totally got sidetracked!'

It's basically like a really great first date, except no pressure because you both know you're happily married and just like each other's company. She told me how her girlfriends don't like to travel without their husbands and my hand shot up fast as a jackrabbit - "I'll go with you! Where we goin? The Caribbean? Lake Geneva? I'm in!" And I so totally am.

The Lesson

Life is short, so when you find someone you love talking to, just f'ing do it. Yes, that person may clean your teeth and scare you into flossing more, but that doesn't matter. Just ask them to hang with you and then you can tell your friends and family about how you made friends with your dental hygenist / hair stylist / realtor - whoever. Life is too short to hesitate and it's a whole lot more interesting when you don't.