Whenever something related to Cuba or a Cuban happens, I’m usually asked to express my expert opinion.
Today, a friend went to the dentist for a cleaning. According to my friend, the hygienist was a rude, cell phone talking, salsa singing, rough handed, technologically challanged Hispanic with a bad accent that made her feel like Dustin Hoffman in the Marathon Man.
My princess friend got what she considered a brutal, rough and bloody cleaning. While she was complaining to the staff about the hygienist’s technique, she was told that the hygienist was a Dentist back in Cuba and had been relegated to working as a Dental Hygienist because the U.S. doesn’t recognize a Cuban D.D.S. degree.
At that point, as the official spokesman for my people, it became my mission to field questions about Cuban dentistry.
I’m actually not the best person to ask about Cuban dentistry since when I was a kid a my dad took me to get a molar pulled and a revolutionary teeth puller extracted the wrong molar-the one without the gaping hole of a cavity. That is why my parents never agreed for me to get a much recommended tonsillectomy until we got to the States.
But anyway, my friend asked me what Cuban dentistry was like. Was it as primitive and brutal as she experienced?
Now, I could have told her that Cuban Doctors are stuck practicing and diagnosing using instruments and technology form the middle of the last century.
I could have told her that she had been privileged to have had a cleaning performed by a real dentist.
I could have told her about my Dentist in NJ, Dr. Arias, who worked out of his house in Union City while he did his "revalida" and later opened an office across Holy Family on 35th st. with his wife as an assistant. And how his wife, who had also been a Dentist in Cuba, was the quickest and painless novacaine shots ever.
I could have told her that the poor “hygienist” was doing a job that was much beneath her education and skill level so she could make a living and she probably got her fired.
I could have told her not to be such a candy ass and butch up.
But I didn’t.
I suggested, in jest, that maybe the Cuban dentist had worked in one of Castro’s gulag on jailed dissidents…
…and then gave her the phone number for a Cuban Gynecologist in Hialeah.