(Reading time: 2 mins.)
I left the dentist’s feeling like my mouth was not my own. The anaesthetic lasted, as it always does with me, long beyond the work. I knew I couldn’t speak as clearly as I wished, because I had a very short conversation with the receptionist about my next appointment before I left. My tongue was having difficulty forming words and I was lisping.
The anaesthetic always takes ages to act on me and by the time it finally starts to take effect the dentist has got fed up waiting and has given me extra shots, gets through the work quickly and lets me out on to the street, one side of my face feeling like a dead football, if that makes sense, and an itch in half my lips and one ear that scratching only makes worse.
On my way home from the surgery, I called in to my local grocery shop to purchase some necessaries – I didn’t think I’d want to come out again for the rest of that day at least.
When I heard the assistant call to indicate it was my turn in the queue, I went to the counter and handed over the items. She scanned them electronically and told me how much to pay. I hardly heard her but automatically checked the electronic display.
“Two thixty-three?” I asked with difficulty, double-checkin; for some reason. I do that – don’t ask me why.
“Yeth pleeth”, she replied with that look they often have which says they kind of see you but only kind of. I looked at her sharply. Was she taking the piss?
“Thanksh,” she said, taking the five note I gave her. My eyes narrowed but she was already ringing it up in her “done this a few hundred times today, a couple of thousand a week, could do it my sleep” kind of way. Then she gave me my change, her eyes sliding over me.
“Two twenty-theven change, thank you,” she said. “Neksht!”
I stared at her but her eyes were already on the next customer, who was approaching and looking at me a little impatiently. I moved on and came to a halt near the doors.
By now I was chiding myself for being paranoid. Had I never met someone with a lisp before? Suspecting her of taking the piss? Come on! She was hardly aware of anyone except as bearers of items to ring up, give them their change, thank them, call out for the next customer. Eight hours a day with a couple of breaks. She’d have to notice someone first before she could take the piss out of them.
Shaking my head at my paranoia, I moved towards the doors, which opened automatically. Then I heard it. “That’ll be six sixty-seven please.” Clear as a bell. Then “Thank you. Next!”
Bitch! No lisp — she’d been mocking my affliction! I raged inwardly. I had a good mind to march up to her and …. say what? “Ethcuth me Mith. You were taking the pith out of me”? And how could I prove it? I’d sound like some kind of paranoid or psychopath …. or thycopath ….
Oh, fuck it! I barged out of the door, almost banging into someone coming in.
“Oh thorry!” we both said simultaneously and passed one another, each watching the other out of the corner of his eye.