No fan of the dentist, I put off my most recent appointment until I gathered a mouthful of cavities and felt the throbbing need for several root canals. I simply hate the dental chair and the attendant pain, even if the technician is a comely lass with a winsome personality. But after two weeks of agony, I found a young doctor who billed himself as a “sedative” dentist, meaning I could receive not only Novocain and Valium during treatment, but nitrous oxide gas for a truly otherworldly experience. I wouldn’t quite be unconscious as he hacked my jaw to pieces — I’d have to visit an oral surgeon if I wanted the full ride to dreamland — but I’d be in the ozone along with the swinging oldsters at colonoscopy spas and birthing moms riding their epidurals. As it turned out, I emerged from the cubicle of grief with a smile on my lips, a tune in my throat, and although unable to drive myself home, no recollection of anything except the bill, and even that was fuzzy.
That’s when it occurred to me that many more of life’s excruciating trials would improve if only one could be anesthetized to the point of oblivion beforehand, essentially skipping the event. Why is there not a “sedative” tax service, for instance? You lug your box of documents into the office in the mall near the food court, the one with the standup poster of the nerd in a bow tie out front, and green balloons signifying money festooned everywhere, sink into a chair, and pop the Valium. Just as the consultant reaches for your scribbled lists of itemized deductions and coffee-stained W2s, you take a quick hit off the cylinder of nitrous oxide conveniently placed beside his desk, and you begin to feel…well just fine, thank you very much. When you come to yourself, your taxes are finished, your credit card dinged for the fee, and you’re looking forward to a federal refund that puts you $24 ahead. Does life get any better, or at least any more sedate? Why, having your taxes done is now as pleasant as a trip to the dentist!
Anything that leads to one having to wait in line, particularly if shopping is also involved, would obviously be improved by a stupefying relaxant like nitrous oxide. A large communal container of the gas with many hoses extending from it parked by the bascart corral would transform the experience of going to the store from torment to bearable tedium or even near bliss. Valium alone would not be enough, I think, but consider the difference a few sucks on the nitrous hose would bring. It would be a true opiate of the people. Instead of banging your way down narrow aisles for a couple of bananas and a liter of fine wine, dodging elderly creepers and the portly disabled on beeping electric carts, only to wait 25 minutes in the laughably designated “express” line, you could instead careen along feeling only pleasure, or at the worst numbness, and the 25 minutes spent crammed in a queue with the unwashed masses would fly by. You might take to shopping just for the fun of it, if you could completely blot out where you were, and this way you could.
I’ve never flown first class, and perhaps that is a pleasure I should partake of one day, so that I can say I’ve completely lived. But I have flown coach, and it’s the same as taking a bus, except the bus drives through the sky. That’s the only difference I can detect, and a whiff of nitrous oxide from the mask dangling overhead would make the whole trip go much faster and be more relaxing. Buckle up for takeoff…now buckle up for landing, and that’s it. Trip done and enjoyed to the maximum that such an awful ordeal can be enjoyed by a sentient being.
The last time I attended a first run film, Love, Simon, I saw within minutes that the whole trial would be much more tolerable with a little more of the good ol’ butter on my popcorn, and a snort or three of the good ol’ nitrous through a tube and mask connected to my seat. That way I could get from the opening scene to the closing credits with scarcely an awareness of the stupefying plot or unrealistic characters. I could focus instead on the truly delicious popcorn, or just take a revivifying nap.
And what an improvement on the trip you have to make to Disney World in order to appease the irritable brats or flighty teens in your care. A well-regarded French philosopher has called Disney World a “ghetto.” Well, it was actually the parking lot Jean Baudrillard bestowed that term upon, due to its crowdedness and distance from the feature attractions, but we’ll skip the Gallic niceties and come to the point. If at the entrance to this phantasmagoria of kitsch and juvenilia, Goofy or Minnie were to totter over and offer up a portable canister of nitrous oxide to pull about and apply your lungs to, you might achieve a euphoria equal to the tots’ at the sight of those Troll things. Or at least you could forget where you where, and the enormous sum it was costing you, until you trudged back to the “ghetto” and climbed exhausted into your sunbaked car.
They call nitrous oxide laughing gas, but let’s be real here. It’s grin-and-bear-it gas, and it’s essential.