A Thought, Not Random But Possibly Not All That Consequential

Which is:

I went and got my teeth cleaned by the dentist today, and when I was done I got a jelly donut and snarfed it right down, at least partially, I think, as oppositional behavior.

Is it just me who does these sorts of (very) minor rebellions? I mean, I’m 48 now. I kinda thought I’d be over that sort of thing at this age.

Your thoughts in the comments, please.

103 thoughts on “A Thought, Not Random But Possibly Not All That Consequential

  1. P.S.: I’m aware that my dentist doesn’t really care about the jelly donut and might even be pleased, as it will inevitably occasion more work for him in the future.

  2. I don’t do it much, perhaps in part because I easily give into the urges in the first place without feeling the need to justify them as a reward or compensation for some otherwise unrelated event.

    It may be that by doing that I haven’t conditioned myself as well to do “good” things, and as a result may be less successful than I could have otherwise been.

    On the other hand, I’m pretty happy with my life, so I’ve got that,.

  3. Mea culpa too, at least sometimes. But with me, it’s a cinnamon bun, and only if I had a good checkup and clean bill of health. If not, it’s an incentive to brush better.

    (56 years old, and teeth with bad enamel, exacerbated by an incompetent dentist when I was a child, leading to all kinds of dental nastiness that needs fixing now… oh pity me… I must ease the pain with a cinnamon… oops..)

  4. I’m diabetic and have my blood sugar tested every 90 days (A1C), Afterward, I have a sandwich with two pieces of bread instead of open-faced. I know . . . rebellious, danger woman.

  5. My dog is a dignified elder dog, but he’s not averse to doing the occasional spite pee when we annoy him. :D

  6. Totally normal. I eat cookies as a means — but not my only means, not by far — of civil disobedience. I’m in my mid-40s, have had two children, am healthy and fit, and I refuse to try to have a flat stomach.

  7. Think of it as positive reinforcement. You did something not fun but necessary, and to reinforce the behavior you rewarded yourself. Very grown-up, I think.

  8. It is by way of constant tiny pointless acts of rebellion that we keep our minds limber and train ourselves for our ultimate societal role of Ornery Old Gits. Also, at my age draping the dadbod in leather just provokes giggles and I haven’t enough hair left to sweep into a DA.

  9. If you reserve your sweets for oppositional behavior, you must be very skinny.
    I reserve sweets for when they are in front of me. I reserve putting sweets in front of me for when they are not in front of me.
    This is why I’m buying a treadmill.

  10. Not to parse your words, but it was likely a dental hygienist who cleaned your teeth and not the actual dentist. As for the jelly roll? I’m right there with you man, and I would have washed it down with a bottle of Yoohoo!

  11. Yup, something about having clean teeth makes me want a latte and a chocolate cupcake. And I’m 69, so this seems not to be an impulse one outgrows.

  12. Rebellion, reward either way I suspect it is in fact another R word. Rationalization. I think I am like Trey.G. I just get the doughnut. Although I like apple fritters.

  13. When you’re oppositional behavior only results in damage to your own health, you might have to wonder if it is, in fact, self destructive behavior.
    Of course, eating a jelly donut is not quite as bad as eating a detergent pod.

  14. I’m not oppositional myself. If, say, someone says to me, “For your own good, do you want some ice cream?” I will just say, “Don’t mind if I do.”

    I learned that other people were oppositional some years back. A bunch of us of met regularly in a Dialogue Group on certain Friday nights at a small old small community centre. The chairs were mismatched, only two or three were big and comfy.

    Being first to arrive, I helped put chairs in a circle, grabbed a comfy one, and as each new person came in I said, in a normal but fun voice, “Take the comfy chair.” I was amazed when not a single person did, and I gather it was solely out of opposition to being told what to do. Well, now I know more about human nature. Or at least, the nature of idealistic dialogue people.

  15. A few werks ago i got one of those “remember 5 years ago you posted this? Would you like to relive the glory that was that moment?” posts in my facebook feed. It was a picture of a weightloss clinic next door to a cupcake store in a strip mall. To my knowlege, both are still going concerns. So I expect you are not alone enough for it to be a viable business model.

  16. My wife accuses me of leaning on the refrigerator door when I’m bending down to look for something within. Obviously, I’m really just holding the door.
    Except when I’m annoyed with her. Then I will LEAN on it DELIBERATELY! So there!!
    (47.9 Y.O. Male)

  17. I’m 63 and on a very limited budget this winter. I really should buy only what I need for a given week, but every once in a while Oreos are on sale and I want chocolate! So, no I wouldn’t count on it being any different in the future.

  18. Oh, I do the same thing. In my case my dentist is in an old Victorian, directly over the original coffeehouse in a local chain, established in the late 60’s. And I get an iced latte to calm my gums down. I’m sure it stains twice as much when my toofies are naked. And… yes, well, I’m 58. Going on 19.

  19. The quickest way to get me to do something is to tell me not to.

    You’re pretty normal… assuming I am.

  20. Do not go gentle into that good night….

    Sound familiar? Well spun words if ever there were any. You’re 48 and just starting the process where every morning is a battle against the pain of aging. I’m 55 and have(had) fought simulated medieval combat arts since I was 19 or thereabouts. I ain’t no spring chicken thats for sure. You’d think with the toll of pain going out and doing it against people nearly 30 years my junior I’d know better.
    However once in a while an old lion still has to go out and do lionish things. The teeth may be showing the wear, the ears a bit more tattered and certainly that waist isn’t as slender as it was even in my 40s but darn it all, I’m still all me and I’m not quite ready to let go of the things I’ve enjoyed for so long.

  21. I used to get a milkshake immediately after every dentist appointment. I did this for years, well into my 30s, until the fast food joint not to be named that was right near my dentist’s office closed down. I still feel the twinge to do so every time, but laziness has ruled the day recently.

  22. I get my dental work done at the UNL dental college. After getting my teeth cleaned I almost always walk over to UNL dairy store, and get an ice cream cone. The ice cream is very good; it’s made on-site as part of one of their academic programs.

  23. When I go to the doctor’s office for an early morning fasting blood test, I will frequently stop at McDonalds afterwards for a sausage McMuffin & hash browns and eat it on the drive to work.

  24. I think we tend to get worse with age. My mother one froze a bunch of baked colours so that she’d have to defrost one before she ate it and would have time to think “Do I really need this cookie?”. So one day she couldn’t wait for one to defrost and she bit into the frozen coke. I came home to find she’s cracked her front tooth.

    Let this be a lesson to all!

  25. It’s only two blocks from the dental office to a bakery with the best chocolate chip cookies in town. My newly cleaned teeth just don’t feel right until I’ve had one. I’m in my mid-60s so I don’t think you’ll be outgrowing this impulse.

    My stepson’s childhood dentist had cookies at the checkout counter. That seemed a bit too self-serving.

  26. Paying attention to politics has been known to do stranger things along the lines of personal rebellion.

  27. Rebelling against people who didn’t think I could do something was how I got through grad school.

    Besides, the post-dental-visit treat is a wonderful tradition.

  28. I find that the feeling of professionally cleaned teeth makes me not want to sully them (logical and well behaved mind trying to exert control) but there is a food court right outside my dentist’s office and a donut shop a 2 minute walk away.
    So …. yeah donut 50% of the time, jerk chicken the other 50%.

  29. I couldn’t manage that because the stuff the dentist uses makes everything taste funny for a few hours. Which is why I have to be sure to not schedule a dentist appointment before a meal.

  30. My relationship with comfort foods (and other foods eaten for emotional reasons rather than practical or physiological ones) has been long and fraught, and complicated by ten years of weight-loss dieting from my early teens to my early twenties. These days, if I’m eating something sugary, it’s because I want to have it, and because I’m aware it isn’t “bad” or “rebellious” to do so – it’s just because I fancy something sweet in taste, and I can deal with the post-sugary mouth-feel. I’ve successfully de-criminalised sugary things for myself (which means I actually eat a lot less of them than I used to, back when it was an oppositional behaviour).

    Now I just have to work on de-sanctifying lettuce (that is: making “eating lettuce” less of a combination mark of saintliness/penance for whatever, and more of a neutral event). Somehow this seems to be a lot harder than de-criminalising sugar. Maybe it’s because I like sweet things, and can’t stand lettuce?

  31. I’m 68 and I don’t let nobody tell me what to do; including myself.
    I don’t think your behavior is unusual, John. It’s more likely to be universal.

  32. I always do the post-medical-visit-stop-somewhere-inexpensive-and-eat thing. There may (OK, will) be something sweet included if there’s been fasting blood work. Oh, and after the annual squish or scrape, I stop at a sort-of-traditional-American-Chinese restaurant that’s on my way home, and get a combination lunch or dinner (depends on time of day). Almond fried chicken… (normally, I want something more authentically Chinese, but for a reward for not-fun medical things, I want what was in the Chinese restaurants when I was in my 20s in San Deigo (1970s).

  33. I’m 70 and I still do a post dental rebellion. Trouble is I usually get a fluoride treatment with a cleaning, and I’m not suppose to have anything hot or sticky for four hours, so my gratification is delayed.

  34. Age aside, I totally did this when I went to the dentist near my grandmother, except my rebellion of choice was her French Toast!

  35. Oppositional behavior, minor rebellions – that’s me all over. Not so much with the dentist, though.

    I’m in my 60s. My mother died nearly two decades ago. And to this day, I STILL buy the fancy, name-brand, expensive Scotch tape and I STILL use it with abandon (generally going through a couple of rolls total wrapping Christmas gifts) just because she was so damned insistent about buying the cheap stuff and insisting that I was only allowed to use one tiny piece of tape per present wrapped.

    Silly? Most definitely. Stupid? Yup, that, too. I am completely aware that it is both silly and stupid. And I still do it. Loved her dearly, miss her terribly, but that doesn’t keep me from continuing to rebel against her decades after she died.

  36. I am 74 and in my 60s my cholesterol was too high. I started on Lipitor or something in that category, and in the next checkup I was fine! The doctor said “Now don’t go pig out on French fries.” I left the appointment and went right to the attached hospital cafeteria and ordered French fries! They were good! And liberating!

  37. Speaking of “oppositional behavior”- I enjoy reading the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. I sometimes wonder what happened to Calvin over the years.

    Then I realize “Of course! He grew up to be John Scalzi!”

    A little oppositional behavior is just fine.

  38. I can’t help it if there’s a really good frozen yoghurt place (the kind where you pick what you want and they weigh the result) right down the street from my dentist. The dark chocolate really gets the “dentist taste” out of my mouth. There’s nothing oppositional about it!

  39. Every dentist I’ve ever been to has had a jar of candy/suckers on their checkout counter. Some of them have stocked sugar free, but most do not.

  40. Got twenty years on you, Mr. Scalzi, and I am a firm believer that you never outgrow your need for oppositional behavior. It probably goes without saying that I practice what I preach.

  41. It’s close enough to Lent, that the grocery is carrying Paczki… special jelly doughnuts that used to only be available on Fat Tuesday, but the season is expanding. In theory, I’m dieting, but I bought a box anyway.

  42. When my doctor called me to tell me my bloodwork showed I was diabetic, I went and had an Italian ice. Not one of those nasty, hard cups from a supermarket, but a decent one from Rita’s (as I was living in Ohio at the time).

    Not so much as an act of rebellion, as of a fear I’d never get to enjoy one again; and until the doctor told me what I could and couldn’t eat, I might as well take advantage of the opportunity.

    Well… okay. There was some rebellion in there too.

  43. After a 12 hr fast before a blood test for a Dr. visit, my first stop on the way home is at McD’s for a breakfast burrito.

  44. I empathize. Although, only a little, since it was only a jelly doughnut. Personally, I’d have gone for the banana pancakes, a gallon of *real* maple syrup, and milkshake.
    Hey, if you’re gonna retaliate, do it BIG!

  45. Rebellions, major and minor, against the prevailing wisdom are the prerogative of the older person. That’s what I told my children as I marched them into the bathroom to brush and floss. “Look,” I’d say. “Right now you don’t get to make as many of your own choices as you want. As you grow up, you’ll have more of a chance to decide for yourself what you want to do.” (Not to mention, you’ll be paying your own damn dental bills, kid.)

    And my favorite thing to inflict on my newly-cleaned teeth? Is hot black coffee.

  46. Couple of years ago, I was symptomatically forced to visit a dentist after two decades of complete avoidance. During those twenty-plus years, I at least practiced a fanatically obsessive regimen of brushing, flossing, rinsing and dietary caution.

    Now that I’m locked into regular exams and treatments as needed, I’ve ironically noticed a what-me-worry loosening of my usual mindfulness re diet from moment to moment.

  47. I think I’ll side with the ‘It’s about Jelly Donuts’ side rather than the Rebellion side. Not sure there is an age limit to the Jelly Donut’s team by the way.

  48. I’ve always done this – out of the dentist, into a newsagents to buy a bar of chocolate. Sticking it to the man (without him noticing since he has sharp things to stick in my mouth) for over 2 decades. Yeah!

  49. Beyond a certain age, ‘rebellion’ simply looks silly. I see all the rebellious ‘children’ in the supermarket, their carts full of junk – cookies, chips, crackers, starch and more starch. They waddle, out of breath, 80 pounds overweight, but “I don’t *want* to eat my vegetables! waauuuggghhh!!”

    Then the wonder why they need knee replacements at 48.

  50. No, it doesn’t change. Two decades older than you, and my wife and I go to the bakery on the next block from the dentist for fresh croissants and coffee after a semi-annual visit.

  51. Alain de Botton says that we never actually stop being idiots occasionally. Or frequently. Age has nothing to do with it. It’s a reassuring realization, actually.

  52. I am 68. I lived on an apple orchard in my youth and ate apples 3x a day. Teeth always had cavities. (Full disclosure-well water, no fluoride.) Apples still are my favorite food. (I floss every day now.)
    It’s taste, memories, favorite foods and moderation that are my selective devices.
    (Another disclosure – there is a donut shop right next to the gym where I exercise.)

  53. After spending a couple of decades over 300 pounds, I have managed to lose 160 pounds from a peak weight of 365. I don’t act out with food any more, because acting out all those years got me type 2 diabetes. A blood glucose spike makes me feel bad, and I have to use more insulin, which is expensive! And I got a good a1c reading (6.4) at my last checkup and I’d like to do the same or better next time! So food rebellion is out the door. And I’ve just had 4 teeth pulled, so sugar probably isn’t a good idea there, either.

    But I’ve managed to say screw exercise for quite some time. I act out by using some very comfortable furniture instead of a treadmill.

  54. I’ve done almost the exact same thing, as my dentist is right beside a Starbucks. I think it’s less oppositional behaviour and more of a holdover from being a kid and thinking “No cavities! I deserve a reward for that!” Which, in this case, is a latte and a cookie.

  55. My post-dental poison of choice is a nosehair-curling double espresso. Gets the taste of all that dental technology right out.

  56. AnnetteJane — This is one of those posts where I have read every single one of the comments. When I read yours, I just burst out laughing. I think you have just hit too close to home. I’m about to turn 68, I’ve lived in a house with well water, and I try to eat an apple a day just to keep on track with some semblance of healthy eating.

    One of the small joys in my life is the fact that I can find so many different apples at the various markets in the area. My wife prefers Gala, but I will pretty much try most of the heirloom apples at least once.

    Moderation with the occasional (frequent?) small rebellion.

  57. Do you buy a pack of smokes and light up after your annual physical as well? If not, I’d think all it means is you wanted a jelly donut, and your morning errands took you by the donut shop.

  58. I absolutely do things like this. I think it’s a minor form of rebellion that hurts no one. It’s like you’ve done the responsible thing by going to the dentist, but, dang it, you’re a free person and can also do this other, slightly less responsible thing! So there. :-) Yeah.

  59. Archaeologically speaking, I read some ancient document once that used “clean teeth” as a synonym for famine. So… there might be a built-in panic reflex here. On the other hand, when I used to get a treatment that required nothing hot and nothing crunchy for 4 hours afterwards, i would inform the hygienist that I was being ordered to have a milk shake for lunch. And I follow such orders.

  60. I turn 40 in less than six months. In the past four months, I’ve gotten a new car, my first tattoo, and just over a week ago, dyed my hair blue and purple.

    … And I haven’t been to the dentist in ages because I spent enough time there as a kid.

  61. If someone implies I should be doing a thing and why aren’t I doing the thing right now; you can bet I will never do the thing, or put it off as long as possible.

  62. Last year after a cleaning it was also Pi day. So I bought a pie. Growing up Catholic, after Ash Wednesday mass at school, I went to Taco Bell after school. So yeah, I get this completely.

  63. What? You’re never too old for this kind of rebellion. The opposite is in fact true.

    The older you get the more you have the right for being childish again. :-)

    Greetings from another 48 year old. At least for two more months :-)

  64. When you have the giant hands of strangers mucking about in your over-stretched mouth for HOURS AND HOURS, you deserve to eat whatever you think will make that feeling go away.

  65. My dentist’s office is above the best bakery in the town where I work (which is fortunately out of the way from where my office is) and every single time I have a clearing I take the opportunity to get something. Their specialty is pecan sticky buns (though the last time I got the bread pudding they make out of the sticky buns)

  66. Age 49. Had my teeth cleaned this morning and stopped for a coffee and a Boston Creme donut on the way to work having similar thoughts of irony. Had to laugh when I later read your post.

  67. I did exactly the same thing this morning after my fasting blood draw to check sugar and cholesterol levels. Sick minds think alike!

  68. I probably do, but not that particular one. This is clear to me because the first Krispy Kreme to open in my city, opened right next to my dentist.

    PS: I get my teeth cleaned tomorrow.

  69. Late 50’s here. I have an annual employer driven fasting blood sugar blood drawing for health screen. I make practice of following up by enjoying breakfast at the local greasiest heart-attack-on-a-plate diner. I joke that I like to get busy counteracting that preventive measure health screening right away.

  70. Sorry John, you’re never too old to enjoy a jelly donout!!!
    I’m 71 and I still do.
    So lean back and enjoy.

  71. I’m happy as long as I get the bubblegum foam fluoride (as opposed to the nasty polish) at the end, followed by a pink toothbrush and mini paste tube with stars on it. This keeps me content with the dentist, despite my history with them (13 teeth pulled since second grade).

  72. We have a dentist office in my home town that originally opened between a Cold Stone Creamery and candy shop. Some groups know how to work together :)

  73. My dentist shares a parking lot with a McDonald’s. A chocolate shake and fries realigns the universe every time.

  74. “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”

    And perhaps a close second is to go through a stint in the dentist’s chair without his reaching for the drill. For an hour or so, you feel immortal, at least as far as your enamel and dentin are concerned. Cavities are something that happen to other people…

  75. My semiannual physical is later this morning, assuming that the ice on the roads here doesn’t shut everything down. My typical post-physical routine: chicken fried steak or a giant omelet, biscuits and gravy or loaded hash browns, a piece of chocolate icebox pie. Would I eat that any other time of the year? No. My meds are remarkably successful at controlling my blood chemistry, but I’m not suicidal.

  76. I don’t do it intentionally, but after every dentist visit, I get hungry. As in, not for salad. But I crave things like burgers, pizza, and fries. Also, yes, donuts. It doesn’t help the grocery store with the best ones is within visual range of the dentist’s parking lot.

  77. Come on! How often to you get to enjoy a jelly donut with sparkling clean teeth. Enjoy the little things.

  78. I’m 48 and I’m with you on this. I used to hit up the Krispy Kreme for donuts after getting my diabetic labwork done – it was right across the street. These days it’s Dunkin’ Donuts, but I go for the bagels. No, really. Bagels. Which feels like another act of rebellion in itself.

  79. It’s possible that after going in for regular blood work that requires 12 hours of fasting; I regularly follow up with an egg-a-muffin (or 2, if there’s a special).

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