My alter ego

Greg and I visited the dentist today. Instead of a hygienist cleaning our teeth, they had a new dentist do the dirty work. She appeared to be fresh out of dental school — about my age — but blonder and perkier.

She asked me about my job, which I very briefly explained to her (no sense dwelling on the negative). Then she asked me what my major in college had been, and I told her journalism.

“Oh, that makes sense,” she said. “I considered majoring in journalism because I took a journalism class and really liked it, but then I liked my science class even better so I majored in cellular and molecular biology.”

“Really?” I said. “Because I thought I wanted to be a vet, but then I didn’t really like my science classes. Then I took a journalism class and loved that.”

“I wanted to be a vet, too,” she said. “Sometimes I still think about becoming a vet.”

The dentist and I continued chatting between the scraping and polishing. I couldn’t talk most of the time because of the cleaning tools, but everything she said duplicated my own thoughts. I didn’t even need to talk. I felt like I had met the person I might have been if only I had decided to take the science route. She seemed so happy with her work that I found myself thinking the unthinkable: Maybe I should have been a dentist.

On the way home, Greg and I talked about the new dentist.

“She was good!” Greg said. “She didn’t jab my gums at all.”

“I know,” I said. “I was so relieved to see that wedding ring on her finger because otherwise I think you might have wanted to chase after that girl. She’s like me, but better because she’s a dentist.”

Greg replied: “Do you really think I would go after someone who is even MORE obsessed with teeth than you?!”