There are certain things in life that should not be attempted without the aid of drugs - major surgery, Rolling Stones concerts and dentistry.

I say this because I am a dedicated sissy when it comes to climbing into the chair, opening wide and awaiting the inevitable tsk, tsk of my hygienist delicately degrading my lack of daily flossing.

But my anxiety dates back to a childhood incident in which a country dentist flinched while injecting novocaine into my mouth to deaden his intentions and promptly snapped off the needle.

He said I moved first. I was too young to win the argument.

Regardless, I spent many white-knuckled years of my life avoiding anesthetics because of this unfortunate faux pas.

Then I discovered gas.

Laughing gas

The introduction of nitrous oxide allowed me and many like me to re-enter the necessary world of dentistry with little or no fear.

That's because once they cover your nose with the hissing sound of escaping gas and you breathe deeply and drift away, they could pull all your teeth and replace them with piano keys and you wouldn't care a whit.

It is such a nice, pleasant, feeling that I beg my dental professionals to employ the gas even when I drop by for a routine cleaning.

Truth is, it's the best legal high in town.

Where else can you sit back in complete relaxation, put on a set of headphones, plug in "Rolling Stones Greatest Hits" and escape to Never-Never Land where scraping noises, plaque and cavities are actually funny?

There's a good reason they call it laughing gas.

A real trip

Angela, my angel of mercy, knows when I come through the door to have the tanks filled and ready to deploy.

For the next hour, I'm getting down with Mick and the boys while she digs in under my gums and removes things I don't want to know about.

Occasionally, I raise my right hand, which she knows is a signal to stop all dental procedures, remove her fingers and allow me to mouth the words, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction," before she can proceed.

Truth is, were it not for the gas, I would avoid the dentist like a dog with rabies.

Modern medicine, however, has made it possible for people like me to waltz into the dentist office whistling a happy tune. I actually look forward to my appointments because the toughest part is picking out the music I want to hear.

When it's all over, I'm a little high on the words of "Angie," to whom I give a tip for her professionalism and a kiss for being "Mother's Little Helper," and making my trip to the dentist a real trip.