Nitrous Oxide and Goodfellas


My sophomore year of college, over spring break, I got all of my wisdom teeth pulled. I was terrified about how it would feel. The night before the procedure, to help relax, I watched a lot of my favorite movies.

When I went to the dentist, he explained to me what he was going to do and how it could hurt even with shots. Then he asked me if I wanted some laughing gas before he gave me the numbing shots. I saw the needle on the tray next to me, gulped, and said, “Yes, please.”

I had never inhaled nitrous oxide before. The dental assistant, a young girl with dark hair, put the inhaler over my nose and set the demand-valve. I breathed in deep and instantly started to feel better – that sweet taste of nitrous oxide filled my lungs.

The dental assistant could tell I was edgy. She patted me on the shoulder and asked, “How you feeling?”

“Good,” I replied timidly.

“What’ve you been up to on your break?”

After she asked me that, and a very large shot was put in my mouth, I couldn’t remember much else.

When all of my wisdom teeth were finally pulled, the assistant walked with me to the lobby where my dad was waiting for me. Just as I was about to leave, the assistant said, “I’ll rent that movie. Who was in it, Robert De Niro?”

Confused and in pain, I asked, “What movie?”

“Never mind,” she said, scurrying off.

Several months later, I went back to the same dentist for a filling. I’m in the dentist chair and the young assistant said to me, “I watched “Goodfellas” with my boyfriend; good movie, but too violent.”

The dentist came in and said, “Hey kid, I watched that gangster film you recommended. I’d seen it before, but I watched it again.”

I asked, “What film? I don’t understand?”

The dentist and his assistant told me that before they pulled my wisdom teeth, I had given them a passionate review and full synopsis of the movie “Goodfellas.” I couldn’t recall saying anything to either of them about the film.

Before they started work on my filling, the assistant giggled, “Do you want any gas?”

I politely said, “No NOS.”

Since that incident, I’ve refused nitrous oxide at the dentist in fear of doing another loopy, Siskel & Ebert imitation on the movie I saw the night before.

(photo courtesy of Serdar Tibet/