I have many teeth and at one time I had many cavities, but they are now drilled out and filled with silver stuff (older) and kinda white stuff (newer.) You would think that someone in my position would avoid the dentist unless it was completely necessary. But you know me and on two occasions I have been to the dentist (Well, once. The one guy wasn’t a dentist) when I didn’t have to be there and still had my teeth worked on. We’ll break this up into two parts called “Drilling for Dollars” and “Binaural Audio.”
Drilling for Dollars
Years and years ago I got a call from a friend. We’ll call him Mr. T. And now you have a big, black guy with gold chains stuck in your head. Think the polar opposite… skinny, white, red-head dude that’s pushing six feet tall. Mr. T was taking his dental exam so that he could become a full-fledged dentist. I think there are three parts to the test and he had passed two of them. He needed to pass the third test which was drilling and filling a cavity. Seeing as that I am always willing to help a friend and that I usually have a spare cavity, I agreed. I felt I could be my friend’s gateway into a profitable dental career. Mr. T took me in to have a bunch of x-rays taken so that he could send them in to the board and have me OK’d as a patient. Sadly, the cavity I had was not perfect and Mr.T had to work the x-ray machine like a professional photographer. At the end of the day my face was glowing and he had the perfect shot. It was almost like a reverse internet profile photo where ugly people take odd angles to get the best photo. He was taking multiple angles to make the cavity look as bad as possible.
A few weeks later, Mr. T and I drove up to Cleveland for the test. We went up on Friday for the test on Saturday. We were able to sleep in because people would be taking the first 2/3rds of the test and the cavity filling was the last part.
But we showed up and the testing area was nearly empty. Upon questioning the staff that was there, they said that Mr. T needed to be there three hours ago for the start of the test. There was a good bit of nail biting and in the end, they said we could still jump in and take the test.
I was stuck in the chair. Numbed. And drilled. Mr. T was sweating bullets. Because everyone had finished the test and moved on, the people that oversaw the test and were normally were spread out across the room had nothing better to do than stand a few feet away and wait for this asshole that showed up three hours late to finish his test.
Mr. T was asked to leave and three dudes looked over the new hole in my face. Mr. T was then called back in and given the opportunity to fill my hole with silvery goodness. He did. The three old men came back and checked out the filling. Mr. T asked me to listen in on what they said. I couldn't make heads or tails of what they were discussing.
We left the test and Mr. T was sure he failed.
But he didn’t! My cavity was the finish line to his schooling or perhaps the starting gate to his dentist license. Mr. T probably thinks of my every time he fills a cavity, drives his Porsche or towels off with a sheet of twenty dollar bills.
In 1999, Stu started working in our division and my eyes were opened to what reckless creativity can spawn. Stu is like no other person I have ever met and you would be lucky just to know someone who knows a guy like Stu.
Stu was very interested in an exhibit we had previously built that used binaural audio or 3D sound. The basis of the technology is that audio is recorded with two microphones spaced a head’s width apart. When that recorded audio is played through separate headphone sides, the audio can feel like it is happening to you. If you have a set of headphones, I recommend listening to this painfully long youtube video.
Stu and I discussed what would be the best 3D audio. We came up with some really great ideas. We took the microphones out and recorded all sorts of crap including creepy guy sneaking up on you in an alley, creepy guy breathing in your ear and dude shooting arrows at your head. We then discussed an evil sort of voice that would sound like it was coming from behind the listener. The voice would tell the person to look up and when they did they would see little glowing eyes in the dark recesses of the ceiling. We were 3D audio geniuses.
The best idea to delight and terrify our guests was the idea to record audio of someone getting dental work done. We asked around and no one had a dental appointment coming up (or they just flat out lied because they wanted nothing to do with us.) So finally I volunteered. I called up Mr. T who was now DDS T. I told him about the recording and that I’d need some type of work done. He at least agreed to see us.
We ran over to his dentist office the next day. I got in the chair and Stu put the microphones on either side of my head. DDS T looked around in my mouth and, for once, didn’t see any work that needed done. He had me chew on some mimeograph paper and found a high spot on one of my teeth. He asked if I wanted it ground down. Yes, yes I do want my teeth ground down.
As DDS T worked, Stu had him move the drill around and make noise in both of the microphones. He drilled and smoothed and slapped me on the ass and told me to keep flossing, knowing that I hadn’t touched the waxed stuff in ages.
So, you ask me, “Doug, where can I hear this wonderful audio?” And I say to you, “You can’t.”
Why? Because we got really busy, that’s why. All that audio needed edited down and we had other shit to do. In the end, time ran out and we used the pre-packaged audio that we had purchased in the first palace. Years later, I asked Stu where the custom audio was. He didn’t know. He’d quit and moved on. I poked around, but never found the tapes.
Last week I went into my dentist’s office. There was a filling in my mouth that wasn’t holding up and it needed drilled out and re-filled. Once I realized it, I told my dentist that it was the one that the once Mr. T had earned his license on. My dentist laughed as he drilled it out and then refilled it with whitish stuff.