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THE DENTIST

Back in college, I had a tremendous crush on a guy. I’ll call him Gabe, because that was his name. Gabe lived in my dorm and was in several of my classes and sorta looked like a shaggier Ron Livingston. He also happened to be an aspiring opera singer. For some reason, I found that unbelievably sexy, even though I never heard him sing a note; for all I know, he was just making that up to get action. Although I must say, he probably could have come up with a better lie than “I’m an opera singer” to get laid. Anyway, I liked Gabe so much that I hung out with him every chance I got, including the time we went to a raucous gospel concert. I’m Jewish, but I decided I could praise Jesus just for a night if it got me closer to Gabe. Everything seemed to be going nicely. Then one night, we were hanging out, and Gabe dragged out a full-on tank of nitrous oxide. Yeah, he just had one of these in his dorm room, right under the requisite Reservoir Dogs poster. “My cousin’s a dentist,” he said, as though that explained why he’d have a tank of it just sitting around. “Oh. So do you do… recreational dental work, too?” I know, I was reaching, but he was damn cute.

“No, I pretty much inhale it.” He proceeded to fill up a balloon with the gas and inhale that. He offered it over to me, but I politely declined. Gabe explained, “Well, I can’t smoke weed, because it would mess up my vocal chords. So I do this instead.” Oh. Okay, when you explain it that way, it makes total sense. You can’t smoke pot because you’re an opera singer. And you have to do something, right? There’s not, like, an option of not doing some sort of drug. And I mean, the nitrous oxide can only really screw up your brain, and that won’t affect your future like smoking marijuana would. I nodded my head as he took another hit, trying desperately to see his logic. Things didn’t work out between Gabe and I, but I still refer to him as “The Dentist,” which sounds like it’d be a cool Batman villain. I don’t know what happened to him; I don’t even remember his last name, or I would Facebook stalk him. I am going to have to assume that Gabe is out there somewhere singing Pagliacci with pristine vocal chords and, hopefully, only a couple dozen damaged brain cells. Or maybe he gave up on his dream and became an actual dentist, in which case I bet he smokes pot now.

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