New Years night was a blast: watching fireworks on the Embarcadero with friends and a hidden beer, weaving through cars and inebriated pedestrians by bike, and finishing the night with champagne and whipped cream.
However New Years day was more special, since I got a chance to meet up with Dr. Alton Lacy.
Dr. Lacy is a friend, horse racing aficionado, and possibly one of the world's best restorative dentist. It was $1 day at Golden Gate Fields, and a chance to see something that he loves. Amidst the cheap beer, cheaper hotdogs, occasional bouts of frenzied screaming in Cantonese, Vietnamese, Spanish and occasionally English, I learned something profound.
I learned that a dentist has a very definite shelf-life.
Towards the end, a dentist loses the facility to do dentistry. They lose the passion to perform, the physical ability, or both.
Often, a dentist will have a period where they enthusiastically throw themselves at work. Life is exciting, despite teh best attempts of Insurance companies to otherwise. Journals and study clubs are consumed with delight. Patients and staff are treated well, business picks up.
However, there's a point that ends it.
The trigger may be the wife, the kids, or simply the feeling of ennui. It may be that the dentist feels like they've mastered everything regarding dentistry. It may be that the dentist is saddled with an overabundance of loans and a paucity of sound investments. Or it may be that the dentist doesn't care.
Dr. Lacy isn't there yet, despite being well past retirement.
While we were eating, his tooth fell out.
He wiped it off, dunked in beer, and stuck it back it place.
Later in the night, he will make a custom composite post for himself.
Later still, he'll cast a custom buildup in gold, and cement it.
Dr. Lacy doesn't really accept new patients anymore.
He's too busy taking care of the ones he has.
However if you're ever interested in contacting him, give a call to Dr. Don Curtis in Berkeley, where he moonlights on some Tuesdays.