Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Dentist Picture

About 14 years ago my younger sister Micalyne and I received a letter in the mail that would change our lives forever. It was December and Christmas cards from all over the world were arriving at the McCann home, mostly addressed to Bob and Cathie. Micalyne and I were 14 and 16 at the time, respectively, and neither of us were in the business of sending or receiving Christmas cards ourselves.

That's why it was with confusion that we, together, opened what looked to be a Christmas card addressed to the two of us.

We were correct that it was a Christmas card. But we were also sorely let down because this Christmas card was from our dentist. It included a professionally-shot photograph of the male dentist and the many female assistants that worked with him.

Micalyne: WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT THIS?!

Eli: Seriously. They must have sent out hundreds of these.

Micalyne: They look like polygamists! POLYGAMISTS. Surely somebody would have realized this and told them before they sent it out!

Eli: Maybe they think it's funny.

Micalyne: Even still! What a waste of time and money! Do they think people are going to hang this picture on the wall?!

Eli: Micalyne. You don't need to use reverse psychology on me. If you want the picture for your bedroom, I won't fight you.

Our general mockery wasn't really specific to this dentist. We liked this dentist and staff quite a lot, and still do. But this was a conversation we had sort of had before when we received photographic Christmas cards from dental and medical offices over the years, usually wondering whether the office knows that the pictures are always going to be immediately discarded by everyone.

Nevertheless, later that day I crept into Micalyne's bedroom and slyly stuck it onto her wall. It took a few days for her to notice, and when she did, she retaliated in kind.

This went on for weeks. And then months. And then years. And now, decades.

The picture has been imprinted onto t-shirts, pillow cases, coffee mugs, etc. Always with some cheesy phrase that includes either a dental or polygamous pun. When I graduated from law school, Micalyne made 30 copies of the picture and decorated my bedroom with them, including a sign that read "Crown-gradulations on your achievement!"

When I moved to Ukraine, Russia, and Palau, copies of the picture were buried in my luggage. Gifts adorned with the image were also sent over seas many times.

When Micalyne got married in 2007, I had a calendar made, each month with a blown-up image of one individual from the picture and a hand-written message from that person, like "I hope your new husband fills every cavity of your life!" and "BRACE yourself for a happy future!"

For the December calendar photo, I added a picture of Micalyne in her wedding dress to join the other brides.


Watching Micalyne open the unmarked package sitting in the middle of her pile of wedding gifts was one of the greatest gift-giving experiences of my life. Tears were shed. And both of us stopped breathing for at least 25 minutes.

I realize that it might be tacky to post this picture publicly. Because maybe some of you know these people. For years I have refrained from sharing this on Stranger. But I got thinking about it recently and decided that it was time. I want to reiterate that I think these people are wonderful and I don't mean to mock any of them. And I think they have a pretty good sense of humor anyway (hopefully).

Ultimately I decided that if I sent a picture of my office to a family and that family passed it back and forth and imprinted the image onto clothing and dishes and calendars and transported it to all ends of the Earth for the next 14 years, I would want to know about it. And I would beam with pride when I found out.

Plus, they should really know that for this most recent Christmas, Micalyne's children were added to the group.


~It Just Gets Stranger

49 comments:

  1. I am laughing so hard I'm peeing my pants! I love your family!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That picture! With your sister in it! I cannot stop laughing! I would be so proud if I was anyone who worked in that office! You guys have immortalized this picture!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh my gosh. PLEASE let me be in your family.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very nicely done! I bet your dentists office would laugh very hard at this!

    ReplyDelete
  5. My dentist's office has a similar picture hanging on the wall in their office. I had the same thought when I saw it: "Do they know that they look like a polygamist and his wives?" I'm glad I didn't become a dental hygienist. It isn't only a profession: it's an arranged marriage.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice to see such happy and joyful family...honestly speaking this is really an unique thing which i seen today...fabulous picture...Thanks for sharing wonderful article with us.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Perhaps next year you could insert your picture, put it on coffee mugs and send several of them to the dentists office along with an explanation and a nice thank you note. From the pictures you post of your smile he deserves a lot of credit.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is my favorite post of 2014...

    ReplyDelete
  9. I want to be adopted by your family!

    ReplyDelete
  10. "I hope your new husband fills every cavity of your life!" I read that sentence right as I took a drink and now I have Gatorade in my nasal passages and lungs. Thanks, thanks a lot for that. I think to show there's no hard feelings you SHOULD take a nice posed studio portrait of you and your coworkers and send it to the dentist's office with a copy of this post.

    ReplyDelete
  11. They DO look like they should be on an episode on Sister Wives...too funny! Thanks for a great start to my Monday Eli!
    ~T

    ReplyDelete
  12. This post is bringing me so much happiness today. I want to switch dentists right now.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sooo....... My teenagers gave a boy from school a ride on a cold morning and found a hair on the seat after he got out. That hair was used like your photo. It was on pillows, tooth brushes, in suitcases, underwear drawers. As their mom I was grossed out. I am not posting with any identity as I do not want it to start up again. I am sure that hair is still being preserved

    ReplyDelete
  14. You know, when you said they sent a picture, I more or less imagined them dressed in their dentistry attire. I couldn't understand the polygamist remark...until I saw the picture. LOL...wow that looks so weird. It looks like it's suppose to be a family photo and not a professional and his assistants.

    In any case....the blond on the left is hot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And looks 14. ;) It's Brigham Young not Bring 'em young. ;)

      Delete
    2. Don't be jealous. She just looks young because she sitting beside all those older women.

      :D

      *runs away dodging the rocks being thrown*

      Delete
  15. They really DO look like a big polygamist family. The addition of the kids is hilarious!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Eli - I so wish you were MY brother!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hahahaha! This has been the best thing over the years!!! Micalyne's kids are the best in the picture!!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. My aunt and I have a similar war going on, except instead of a dentist's Christmas card, it's mailboxes and outhouses. :) I hit a mailbox with my car over 10 years ago and have received at least one mailbox item every year since. After a few years I decided that she needed to be getting embarrassing gifts to, so I started buying her outhouse stuff in memory of the time that she got herself lock in an outhouse on the side of a mountain in Colorado. She's hoping that I'm the one that has to deal with her estate when she passes (a million years from now) otherwise her outhouse collection is going to take some explaining.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Eli, I feel like as the bride, Micalyne deserves to be the center of attention. (Sorry it's so choppy, I only had MS Paint to work with...)

    http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a254/DuctTapeSpaz/Welcome.jpg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is amazing. Where were you 7 years ago?

      Delete
    2. That was about the time I was bored enough to be drawing animated Disney movie cases on paint. You would only have had to ask! :)

      Delete
  20. Oh my God that was the funniest thing I have seen in a long time.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is SO great. So glad you decided to share. As a photographer, I have been hired to take dental staff photos on numerous occasions. The first time I was asked to take staff photos, I was terrified of them turning out awkward. As I prepared for the shoot, I knew I would have no choice in their attire, but I could choose the pose. So, I did a lot of research (google image searching) for pose ideas. As a result, I came across a lot, and I mean a lot, of awkward dental staff photos. One in particular, has been sent to many friends on numerous occasions, and I thought you might enjoy it. It's one of a kind.

    http://www.perfectsmile.co.za/images/dental-staff.jpg

    p.s. the calendar ideas was dynamite. So funny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my gosh! That picture! WHAT THE HELL?!

      Delete
    2. Oh for the love of everything that is sweet and holy, I can't unsee that!

      Delete
    3. I knew you would like it. :) May it bring you as much joy as it has me.

      Delete
    4. I often wonder how a person sees a picture like that, and thinks it's okay to put it out for the public to see.

      Delete
    5. I seriously cannot stop staring at this picture. I just keep going back. Every single person in it is SO awkward! Why are their hands placed that way? Why the looks on their faces? What the crap?!

      Delete
    6. Oh wow. Oh wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. I . . . don't even know what to say. I want to meet those people.

      Delete
    7. I'm guessing it's completely the ego of the dentist. Especially being surrounded by women all day long. That's what this creepily disturbing picture looks like anyway. Like he's the center of the universe and they're all adoring him.

      Delete
  22. I have to share my "passed down" Eli tradition. When we Plouzeks were younger we lived down the street from the McCanns. My mom would do a lot of sewing for Christmas and was always short on time so she would have to disguise her projects when she worked on them in our presence. One day she was making a dress for Courtnee and little Courtnee found it and asked who it was for and Mom said it was for "Eli." That seemed to work for Courtnee and she didn't question it. SO every dress she made was always for Eli. Years later when my daughters caught me sewing they asked what I was making and out popped, "A dress for Eli." They had no idea who Eli was, but they bought it and I sewed on. So now every dress I sew or every toy I try to hide in the cart without them seeing is for Eli. Congrats Eli, you have become a tradition in our home too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tiffanie! I have never been so happy in my entire life! And to think, you guys have kept this from me for almost 30 years!

      Delete
  23. I love this so oooooooo much. We do similar things in my family. We have an ugly orange shirt that you know will resurface as a re gift at someone's birthday or Christmas everytime.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ummm, I'm pretty sure that is my children's current orthodontist. That's a little freaky.

    ReplyDelete
  25. That would be my mother's cousin. The internet is such a small small world, isn't it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup - my mothers cousin too... And I do think they would see the humor in this post...

      Delete
  26. This is the funniest thing I've ever seen!!! OMG!! :D

    ReplyDelete
  27. My stomach hurts from laughing!

    ReplyDelete
  28. My kids want to know why I'm crying....and I am because I'm laughing so hard it hurts...thanks for the great ideas for my brother's birthday...

    ReplyDelete
  29. Eli-
    The idea of passing this on in the most random of places for the past decade is pretty hilarious. Because the man in the picture is my Dad and the woman with her arms touching his shoulder is my Mom, I also feel uncomfortable with the statements about him being a polygamist. To clear the air (since this blog seems to be rather popular)- if you know the Orthodontist in this picture, he is not a polygamist, farthest thing from it. He and his staff take photos like these to wish their patients "happy holidays" at Christmas time. I can see where the jokes may come in as there is one man in a photo with a bunch of women, but I just wanted you to know this post made me feel uncomfortable since this is my family. I hope your readers do not confuse jokes with reality.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Natalie, thanks for the comment. I wondered how long it would take to get into trouble with someone's family member! Please don't worry too much. Most of the people who read Stranger assume that the opposite of whatever is said here is the actual truth (and then they send me angry emails for making off color jokes about slapping their children at the grocery store).

      Your dad was always a very kind man to us. I should know. I slept with a pillow case for five years that had his image printed on it.

      Delete
  30. my college roommates and i have passed around "the pubes plate" (the name is really the only disgusting part about it) since 1999...i think it currently resides in raleigh, north carolina.

    ReplyDelete
  31. In our family we have a "My Size Barbie" (read, three feet tall) who has resurfaced as a valentine murderer, deranged elf, and mustachioed sombrero-wearing party hostess. Also I feel I should mention that my youngest sibling is 19.

    ReplyDelete