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In which John recalls a French press junket, a clenched jaw, the kindness of Nat Wolff, and an impossibly handsome Parisian dentist.

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Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday.

Today I would like to tell you my least relatable story. So, back in 2015, Nat Wolff, Cara Delevigne, and I traveled to eight countries in the span of two weeks to promote the Paper Towns movie.

This was often quite fun because Nat and Cara are lovely people, but to be honest press junkets are a little excruciating. What happens is they put you in the bowels of some incredibly nice hotel, and then you sit in front of hot lights for several hours while every eight minutes, a different reporter comes in and asks you questions. You do this every day, for many days.

As jobs go, this is not the hardest one I've ever had, but if you accidentally say something stupid you can cause a lot of trouble not just for yourself but for everyone who worked on the movie, and this happens all the time during press junkets, and so for me at least, it was like this weird mix of absolute monotony and complete terror. Ok, so we were only in Paris for 18 hours, and we saw very little of the city--except when they like drove us to the Eiffel Tower for a ridiculous photo shoot that included this picture that Sarah insisted on framing. But most of those 18 hours were spent in the hotel where my room was significantly nicer than my actual house, and also cost more per night than 4 months of my mortgage.

Like I said, not a super relatable story. So Nat and I are sitting in this windowless room of this incredibly nice hotel and there are like ten people crowded in there--camera techs and the sound people, and my publicist Elyse and people from the studio and of course, Nat, who keeps reminding me to breathe and drink water between every interview. But even so the lights are very hot and the air very stale and I feel this pounding, spiraling anxiety and so I am clenching my jaw and after a few hours of clenching, I notice that one of my teeth has begun to ache.

The pain gets worse and worse until just before our lunch break. I tell the movie people, "I have a toothache", and shortly thereafter the concierge comes in and says, "you have tooth pain" and I say, "I have tooth pain". And he says, "you go to the dentist" and I say, "I go to the dentist".

We only have like 40 minutes for lunch so Elyse and I are rushed off to, I don't know, somewhere in Paris where we walk through a door and enter what I guess is a dental office waiting area, except that it looks like a billionaire bachelor's living room? There's a cow skin rug, and 19th century paintings on the wall and designer furniture and this glass coffee table that has some regular magazines fanned out across it, but also issues of both Playboy and Playgirl? 

Elyse and I are both trying to figure out if this is some kind of Parisian fever dream when a guy comes up on a motorcycle, walks in, unzips his leather jacket, pulls off his helmet, and then shakes out the most gorgeous head of hair you can imagine. And then Elyse and I both audibly gasp because this isn't just the best looking dentist I've ever seen, he's the best looking person I've ever seen.

So this Parisian dentist with impossible levels of facial symmetry ushers me into an exam room where he takes some X-rays and taps around the tooth that hurts then after a while he says, "You have two pains: the physical pain and the psychological pain". And then with a drill he slightly reshapes the tooth that hurts so that I'm not clenching down on just it, and tells me to stop clenching my jaw. 

I return to the press junket, I breathe, I drink water, I don't clench my jaw as much, and I feel better. In retrospect the Parisian dentist was the first sign that a psychological storm was brewing that would eventually derail my life for a while, and it's not like going to a fancy dentist saved me from that fate. Still, he was a good dentist.

What is the moral of this story? I guess it's a story about having a need that is capably met by a compassionate expert. Which, come to think of it, should not be an unrelatable story at all. My hope for you is that your needs will be met by a compassionate expert. I think that's something that we all deserve. So thank you to that compassionate expert in Paris.

How did he afford those fancy impressionist paintings on the wall? Was he like a billionaire who side-lighted as a dentist, like he was a dentist for the love of the game? Or was he like a wildly successful dentist who charges like a hundred thousand dollars for a hand on the should and a "you have two kinds of pain: the physical pain and the psychological pain"? I'll never know. But we'll always have Paris, Dr. I-can't-remember-your-name, we'll always have Paris.

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.