Monday 2 February 2009

Shop Girl Snivels and Dribbles

My date comes back from his travels with a bear hug and coffee beans covered in chocolate.
It’s our first date in six weeks and I want to watch something nice; something that echoes the warm, happy feeling I have inside.
The Indian millionaire film is supposed to be the feel-good movie of the year.
“I cried all the way through,” my cousin says.
I assume she means cried with happiness.
But whoever wrote the poster for it needs to watch the film first.
Feel-good factor?
I would have felt better if I’d stuck my finger in the mains tester.
In no time, I'm blubbing like a toddler who’s got lost in a room full of clowns.
And I really don’t like clowns.
In fact the only thing that could’ve made this film more depressing was if they’d added a few clowns dancing to bangla in the background.
Kids sleeping in rubbish, diving through poo, fighting for survival; it’s not exactly sunny material, is it?
My maternal instincts are on over-drive.
How am I possibly going to save all these little children?
My date glances at me sideways and notices the gleam of snot and tears.
He rubs my knee. But it’s not enough.
I’m still snivelling when I get home.
The thing is, I’m an impulsive sort of person and being impulsive when you’ve got access to internet has its consequences.
A few clicks later and I’m agreeing to sponsor a child.
I don’t know who the child is or where they come from. All I know is that I’m going to have to cancel my Time Out subscription a bit sharpish.
At work I carry on as normal.
My gums are still bleeding and Blanche, sloshed as usual, tells me to buy special mouthwash from the dentist.
The receptionist has other ideas.
“Do you think you are a dentist? How do you know what you need?” she says. “I’ll book you an appointment now.”
To be fair this dentist is miles better than the last one who saw me.
This one shows me a diagram.
After that she gives me four injections in one side of my mouth.
I try to think happy thoughts as she digs the oral claw hammer between my teeth.
I try to sing a soothing song in my head.
I want to ask her if she wanted to be a dentist when she was little.
Maybe this child I’m sponsoring will want to be a dentist.
Fifteen minutes later I’m back in front of the sullen receptionist, my face half paralysed.
“You’re bleeding,” she says.
I’m also dribbling all over myself, but she doesn’t mention that.
She points to the special offer electric toothbrushes.
Eighty quid! Ouch.
“Your teeth are going to fall out,” she says, looking bored.
So I buy the toothbrush.
And floss. And mouthwash. And special toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
A few days later I hear news from the sponsorship programme.
The child is a little boy from Guatemala.
He looks out grumpily from the photo as if someone’s interrupted his playtime.
I try but I can’t see his teeth.
They can’t be that bad though; he’s only three and hasn’t had them very long.

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