Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pillow Talk

Just recently, my youngest son lost the second of his two upper front teeth. That evening, he placed the tooth beneath his pillow in anticipation of the Tooth Fairy’s visit. That same evening, however, the Tooth Fairy was too busy trying to find a replacement part on Ebay for a friend’s rear-projection 50” television screen that the child in question shattered with a flying baseball bat. Nevertheless, our son’s faith never wavered in the Tooth Fairy’s ability to deliver cold, hard cash. So, he placed the tooth back under his pillow to await the exchange of this lifeless enamel-covered body part that is useless to practically everyone but that spooky guy who lives down by the river and wears a necklace strung with children’s teeth. I believe his name is Alec Baldwin.

With no success on the Ebay project, I was able to turn my full attention to the dental duty at hand and retrieve the detached tooth and start for the front door to take it out to the trash. As I was doing this, I asked my wife for a reminder of how much I was supposed to give our son for his tooth. She quickly rattled off a strange sliding-scale “price list” that took tooth size, duration in the mouth, month in which it was lost, and I could have sworn she included some astrological symbols. This all seemed to make perfect sense to her. It was late, so I just asked her for a specific price: two bucks.

Nearing the trash, I pondered two questions.

(1) Who grabbed the Tooth Fairy by the collar and roughed him up to wring more cash out of the transaction? I got a quarter when I was a kid. Sure, inflation may be the culprit here, but my money is on Little Red Riding Hood. Ever since she beat up the Big Bad Wolf (although we all know it was really the beau-hunk woodsman), she’s been found starting a lot of barroom brawls with midgets and taking kids’ lunch money away from them. It’s not like a guy named the Tooth Fairy is going to be a huge challenge. Nevertheless, that woman needs help! But I digress.
(2) Why would my wife assign different “values” to the different teeth in our children’s heads? It’s not as though they had to plant and grow these things like bushels of corn in an arid desert or on a rocky plain. They fall out on their own accord, and sometimes their exit is helped by a bad landing off the monkey bars or by trying to parachute off the roof with an umbrella.

As I placed two dollar bills under my son’s pillow I was reminded of something a friend of mine does each time one of his children loses a tooth: he or his wife places a silver dollar under the pillow. With five children, I asked if he went to the bank to get a bucket of these coins for times like these. No, he uses the same coin each time. Genius!

Not having my friend’s foresight, but not as many mouths to account for, my wife and I have bankrolled a fair amount of tooth loss in the name of the Tooth Fairy. But now that I reflect on this and realize that we have thrown away all of our sons’ teeth, we’ve missed out on a wonderful opportunity to make some money off of all this. There has to be more than just the crazy guy down by the river looking for teeth. We could have sold these things on Ebay. Even if I couldn’t get a lot of money for them, maybe someone would be willing to trade a 50” television screen.

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