The only time in my life I ever had a severe toothache, the pain was so bad I wanted to die and was already planning my suicide. This was an unrelenting agony which was ruthlessly, relentlessly eating all the nerves in my face. Day and night it continued. I barely slept, and those rare times I did, awakening brought the pitiless, demonic force roaring back. My dentist was "away", with no date for coming back, so I had to have an emergency root canal (at a time when I barely knew what a root canal WAS), all done in one very long session with a dentist I didn't know. When you're in that kind of pain, your deliverer becomes a shining figure, and I think I fell in love as the novocaine took effect. During this very long session, I had to pee so badly I thought I was going to burst, but my mouth was so frozen and full of rubber dams and clamps and cold metal implements that I could only gesticulate wildly: FIRST LETTER! P???
I survived it, but I remember that only several belts of whiskey would even take the edge off it. I no longer indulge in whiskey, and I hated it even then. But it made me realize why dentists in the Westerns used to give cowboys a bottle for anaesthesia. The followup to this was almost as awful as the toothache, for I developed facial neuralgia from having my jaw cranked wide open for five hours.
The following are just a few words I found to describe dental pain. Click on each word for a definition:
severe, bad, violent, terrible, acute, painful, dull,excruciating, dreadful, slight, chronic, awful, neuralgic,sudden, nagging, worst, maxillary, rheumatic, constant,mild, spontaneous, real, persistent, horrible, intense,simple, ordinary, agonizing, unbearable, unconscious,nervous, frightful, sharp, non, perpetual, mental,intermittent, prolonged, eternal, grievous, horrid, frequent,inflammatory, hunger, occasional, neuritic, mandibular,spiritual, comic, continuous, incessant, agonising, fearful,permanent, irish, beastly, intolerable, miserable, incipient,genuine, appalling, terrific, impromptu, menstrual,diplomatic, giant, royal, odontogenous, continual,continued, nasty, unprovoked, wretched, mysterious,called, unendurable, incurable, unremitting, inveterate
How W. C. Fields got away with this scene in his infamous short The Dentist is anyone's guess. In fact, the Hays office vetoed its release, but like a stag reel it still did the rounds and survives to this day. The myth is that Fields didn't do sexual comedy, but it's plain that he did. His morals weren't exactly pure. He had Carlotta Monti stashed away, for God's sake, and refused to marry her even after fifteen years of service, and when he died she was completely left out of his will. Didn't get a penny. It was sort of like she didn't exist. That's not funny, but it was common behaviour back then to pretend there was no mistress. I even saw her briefly a few nights ago in a Fields movie called Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. Was she paid for this cameo, a tiny taste of an acting career she longed for and never had? Well, what do you think?