“Do you floss regularly?”

Oh, the shame.

That’s what they’re aiming to fill you with every time you go to the dentist, you know. I think they love making their patients squirm.

So, my insurance is running out pretty soon, and I realized that I really needed to get some long-needed work done before it turned into something much worse and cost me an arm and a leg.

But before I go on, confession session time.

I have never been a daily flosser. I brush twice a day. I use Listerine almost every night. But flossing… I’ve never developed the habit.

And I knew the question was coming. It always does. The hygienist stopped what she was doing, furrowed her brow, squinted her eyes, and looked into the depths of my soul.

“Do you floss regularly?”

Now, in the past, I always squirmed when the question was asked. I always gave them what they wanted. I always felt smaller than a smear on a toilet seat and twice as filthy. And, I would always squeak out something pathetic like, “I’ll do better from now on, please don’t hate me.”

But this time, I decided to play the game back.

“Do you floss regularly?”

“Nope!” I said, showing my smile bigger than ever. I just looked at her. Smiling. Smiling. Still smiling.

She looked back at me, obviously confused about my high spirits. “That’s why your gums are bleeding when I floss them.”

“Hmmm…” I said. And then I smiled at her again.

She so desperately wanted me to feel shame. I could tell. She knew how to respond to shame. Shame was her comfort zone. She didn’t know how to respond to a lack of it.

“Well…” she said, pausing in discomfort, “why don’t you floss?”

“I’m just too lazy!”

Awkward… silence…