The credibility of their profession

Quite a bit happened in the last couple of weeks. I went to the dentist for the first time in several years… I know, I know, I’m horrible, but I had such a bad experience the last time I went to one that it took some pressure from Elizabeth to get me out to one.

Growing up in Canada, I found it natural to trust my dentist and assume that anything they did was simply looking out for my best interests. After moving to the States I found I had to become a lot more defensive about how I went about dealing with the dentist (and, in fairness, healthcare in general). It wasn’t a lesson I learned overnight, though, but only after paying considerable out-of-pocket amounts for extra cleaning procedures. Procedures I didn’t feel I necessarily needed, but that I was “sold” on by the dentist, who in hindsight seemed more interested in racking up insurance claims than they were doing what was best for my health, and wouldn’t hesitate to use his or her authority to make it seem like I was just expected to go along with whatever they proposed.

The thing is, I actually have remarkably resilient teeth, a small but kind-of-awesome genetic trait that I inherited from my dad. I’ve only ever had one tiny filling (which I don’t even remember getting), and while build-ups and deposits have accumulated over the years I’ve never had an actual cavity. The hygenist at the new place was actually extremely surprised to see that I have all of my teeth, including my molars. In her inspection she found what she was nearly certain was a cavity, but it didn’t show at all on the x-rays and the dentist confirmed that it was just a pocket that had a lifetime of accumulation. He told me that the decay will someday reach the point where I need fillings and that in the future one of my specific molars would get infected and require fixing, but that there was no real urgency or need to remove my molars. (Contrast to the dentist I last went to, that tried to persuade me to undergo the operation, claiming that my molars were in danger of becoming impacted in the next couple of years. They didn’t.)

Of course, it’s entirely likely that this new dentist was more amicable only because I explained to him the reason why I didn’t resume seeing my previous dentists. It’s a bit of a conundrum for me, because I am all in favour of acting in the best interests of my oral health and don’t want him to withhold his professional opinion just to placate me, but I’ve already been bitten (excuse the pun) too many times by people whom I felt borrowed from the credibility of their profession so they could twist my needs to fit their agendas.

Anyway, it’s still a miserable and painful experience but now that I’m feeling more in control of the situation I’ll be going back to this new guy regularly. My business is his to lose, and I think he understands that.

The other big news is that I am lined up to be in another show come Christmastime: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at SecondStory Repertory, the same place I did recently Spelling Bee. I wasn’t expecting to get in. On the one hand I had a lot going for me: they know me and like me over at SecondStory, and the show has eleven brothers for pete’s sake (and that’s not counting leads). On the other hand, the director (who didn’t know me from Adam) is fairly well-known in the region for his heavy dance and choreography focus and Joseph is such a spectacle song-and-dance show to begin with, I was expecting him to fill his quota with the people who could give his show the oomph he wants it to have (there were a LOT of people that auditioned for this show, the majority a whole lot more talented than I am when it comes to singing and dancing).

Frankly, I was overjoyed just to be invited to callbacks. This was the first audition I’ve ever done where I was asked only to sing and not to deliver a monologue, and for someone who usually manages to stay pretty level-headed in auditions, being asked to prove myself on the merits of my singing alone scared the pants off of me. Add to that it being the first time I was trying out new songs I’d been working on with my voice teacher, and I was nearly a nervous wreck. It was extremely affirming to see my song land with both the comedy and characterization I intended. Yes, the song I chose naturally caters to my strengths as a comedic performer and conveniently sidesteps the areas I’m weakest in when it comes to singing, but I’ve been working with my current voice teacher a little over a year now, and getting my voice to the place where I can deliver a song effectively enough to just let my singing get out of the way of my acting is a huge landmark for me.

The callbacks themselves were insanely hard as far as the dance went (as a number of way more experienced dancer friends of mine who were there confirmed with me) and I wasn’t adequately prepared for the singing, so I don’t suppose the process did me any favours, except inasmuch as I was able to demonstrate during the singing portion that my audition song wasn’t just a fluke and that I really could act and do comedy. I’m pretty positive that’s what got me in the show over the other men – and even got me the character role of Potiphar in addition to being a brother – and writing as someone who deeply, deeply envies his more talented and skilled friends, it’s validating to feel like every now and then the third leg of musical performance is given enough importance to compensate for the other two.

In the midst of all of this, I’ve been keeping up with Build Your Own Musical and Theatresports, the former of which is extending its run for a week. I’m glad I’m doing this show but it’s been kind of a middling experience for me. I still have yet to play more than a background role in any of the musicals we’ve done, in part because I’m being tentative when I see us straying from our director’s mandate. The shows we’ve been putting on are funny and entertaining, but I wouldn’t say they hit the primary goals that have been set out for us. I don’t know if I can be in a major role unless I’m prepared to compromise on that? With only a handful of shows left, I suppose I’d better figure it out.


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