New York Day 3: Toothzilla

When I joked about having misadventures in New York, I sort of meant wearing a dress and accidentally tucking my dress into my panties. Not on purpose, mind you, but just doing embarrassing things that I happen to have a knack for. I did not mean develop an abscessed tooth and spend an entire day trying to get medication before my head exploded. Suffice it to say, yesterday was not the most pleasant of days.

To use a complicated and possibly mixed metaphor: You know that scene in the classic Godzilla story where he’s like smashing all of Tokyo and people are screaming and the beast is all “ROOOOAAAARR” with tiny arms flailing? The pain I’m experiencing is like that. Or it’s sorta like labor. Intense coming in waves, but at least with labor you get a baby out of the deal.

The Tooth has caused my deepest neuroses to surface. What if the infection spreads? What if I overdose on Ibuprofen and ice packs? I’m found dead in a hotel room and the paramedic shakes her head and says: “If only she’d taken antibiotics”.

Still, I did some cool things yesterday. Caity slept in and I explored the city in search of Orajel and coffee. Then we moved from out Times Square hotel a few blocks into Midtown: The Sofitel Hotel.

This place is so snazzy they actually had a bellman on his hands and knees scrubbing the sidewalk to get rid of any stains. I think he was a bellman. He might’ve just been a random guy with OCD. Anyway, the hotel is classy: wood and lush fabrics, classical music playing in the rooms, lotion scented with lavender. It’s got a French flare and it makes me want to wear a beret and speak in obtrusive poetical sentences like they do in French films: “Caity, I cannot accompany you to dinner because I am floating on a sea of pain and the pain is the color of emptiness.” You know, annoying stuff like that.

Caity was exhausted from walking Times Square until 4 in the morning. Uhm, not like a hooker, just a twenty-year-old exploring. So I had the afternoon to myself. I did my favorite thing in New York. Hopped on the N train to Lincoln Center and found my favorite art movie house. It’s a dingy, dirty little place that shows foreign films and independent movies.

When I lived here I’d go there on payday and see whatever movie was playing next. I remember seeing Swimming Pool there and a few others. I decided to roll the die and do it again. I walked up at 12:45; at 12:55 they had a movie playing. I bought tickets to that. Turned out to be “Soul Kitchen”. It was in German. Yay! And about a restaurant! Yay! And had Manni from Run Lola Run in it and Soul Music and montages of food and a guy who kept doing stupid mistakes….why…someone made the movie just for me.

I was the youngest in the theater by about three decades. I sucked on ice instead of eating popcorn. I actually couldn’t eat anything. By the end of the movie I was high on endorphins from seeing a really fun film, and from the intense pain. I called my friend Vicki in Michigan for advice. She’s a stay-at-home mom who was trained as a doctor. Her husband is an ER doctor. They discussed my symptoms and said I’d better get an antibiotic or I might have to go to an ER. They suggested I call my primary care physician and he could call in a prescription.

Thus began my two hour search for medicine. My primary care doctor….I have several obscenities here. He wouldn’t prescribe medicine, feeling that I should get checked out first. I think he was afraid I was going to try to sell an antibiotic on the streets of New York, perhaps to earn plane fare back.

I walked to Carnegie Hall to have an anti-climactic “Oh I used to work there” moment and then started crying on the street corner of 57th and 7th. My body hurt. My face hurt. I was shaking with hunger. How was I supposed to find a doctor? Then a beaming ray of light fell on a Duane Reade and angels strummed harps. (That could be an exaggeration.) There was a Duane Reade with a “Doctor On Premises!” She saw me. She took a look at me and said, “Your face is all swollen”. I started crying again. “Look, I don’t know anything about teeth but I’ll prescribe you an antibiotic, okay, honey?” I loved her a little bit right then.

Prescription in hand, I hopped on the subway to Union Square and met my cousin Mike outside his work. He’s a very cool graphic designer and a director. That means he gets to tell people what to do. Caity and I walked around his office, met his coworkers. I was supposed to go with Mike and Caity to meet his wife Tessa in Central Park. We were going to have a picnic, but I couldn’t do it. I was either going to pass out or curl in fetal position and I sorta wanted some privacy to do that. I told them I’d see them later, made my way to the hotel, found a deli where I could get dinner: mashed potatoes, chicken soup, and rice. Best. Dinner. Ever. I took the codeine, the antibiotic, the ibuprofen, put an instant ice pack on my face, watched bad TV and got to talk to my Biff for a few minutes.

This morning I’m writing from a little diner down the street. The pain isn’t as bad but my face is still swollen. Not bad, I just look like I have a really defined chin on one side. If I’m lucky, I’ll feel well enough to meet my friend Dionne and go to a Fringe play and to Alphabet City (that’s the name right?) for Indian food. We’ll see what the day holds. So far, everything’s looking up and Toothzilla, for now, is taking a nap.