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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Proud of a Polar Molar

Not long ago a neighbor stopped by, the famous screenwriter Lev Arkadyev, whose film credits include "Korolevstvo Krivykh Zerkal" ("The Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors"), "Frantsuzsky Vals" ("French Waltz") and many others. His face was twisted with pain.

"What's wrong, Lev Arkadyevich?" I asked.

"Tooth," he moaned. "Do you have any aspirin?"

I gave him some aspirin, sat him down in a chair, and when the pain had eased a bit I advised him to see a dentist.

"A dentist?!" Arkadyev exclaimed. "He'll just say the tooth has to come out."

"But if there's nothing else that can be done..."

"Remove this tooth?!"

"If you're apprehensive, I could go with you," I offered.

"Do you have any idea what kind of tooth this is?" my neighbor said. "Find me the man who has a tooth to match it!"

"What's so special about it?" I asked, my curiosity piqued.

"It has a filling that was put in at the North Pole, on Station SP-6."

Thirty years before, as a reporter for Trud newspaper, Arkadyev had been sent to SP-6, a drifting polar station for Soviet scientists. During the entire flight the attractive young woman sitting next to him carefully clutched a strange long object neatly wrapped in canvas. It resembled a distaff, used to hold flax or wool in spinning.

Arkadyev figured the woman was probably uncomfortable holding the distaff all that time and offered to place it in the luggage rack.

"It's not a distaff," the woman said, smiling. "It's a dentist's drill." She explained that she was a dentist flying to Station SP-7 to treat a scientist who had come down with a toothache.

"All this way to treat one guy with a toothache?" Arkadyev said in amazement.

But the woman replied: "We can't let the poor fellow die of a toothache. It's all in a day's work for the Flying Ambulance Corps."

The woman got off at SP-7, and Arkadyev flew on to SP-6, located on the other side of the North Pole.

He soon learned that the dentist would stop in at SP-6 on her way home to give the scientists a checkup. But everyone claimed to have strong teeth, and no one expressed any desire to see the dentist. They went out of their way to avoid the tent where the portable drill had been set up.

"Come on, somebody has to go in," the station chief said. "The doctor has gone well out of her way to be here."

Arkadyev decided to risk it and entered the dentist's tent.

The woman found a hole in his tooth that hadn't yet begun to hurt, and she fired up the drill. Just the sound of it turned his knees to jelly. After cleaning out the cavity, the dentist inserted a filling.

"I tell my friends about this tooth. I'm proud of it," Arkadyev said.

"It sounds like a joke -- a filling from the North Pole. How many people have a tooth like that? And you tell me to have it pulled. No, sir! Let it ache. I'll put up with the pain till the day I die."

Vladislav Schnitzer is a journalist and pensioner living in Moscow.