so, there are teeth in my drawer at work. 2 teeny, rootless, jagged little baby teeth that previously resided in my daughter’s mouth. i have always struggled with any kind of holidays or traditions that have become commonplace in our culture…the logistics of carrying them out, understanding why they’re important. the whole toothfairy phenomenon is no exception. i mean what fresh hell is this really–don’t mind me, i’m going to abscond with these expendable bits and pieces of you and blame it on some nocturnal mythological body part collector….while i secretly pay you for them. fun! who did this to us parents? i mean it. i want to know: who created this bullshittery?! when my daughter lost her teeth & hid them under her pillow, i panicked.
i didn’t know the going rate for purchasing used teeth, for one thing…my family grew up broke as a joke…like my mom would cook a packet of ramen for dinner and put extra water in to stretch it to feed 6 people. when i got to college, people would be cooking that shit up in their microwaves after class, and i would be like, “oh i didn’t realize you were having company.” i had no idea it was meant to be, like, single serving. we were just that kind of poor. in my family, we got a dime per tooth…and then probably went without a sandwich somewhere later in the week due to it. ok, i’m exaggerating-but you get the idea. i decided a dollar was sufficient…till i reached down in my wallet to realize i didn’t even have that on me & it was too late & i was too juiced up on wine to go out to an atm. i contemplated giving her a substitution….but all i had was a booklet of forever postage stamps, a receipt for Target and a coupon for a free hash brown at dunkin donuts…so i did what i had to do to. i took money out of her piggie bank to cover it. that’s right. my kid basically bought her own little jagged mouthstones back.
with both teeth, the fun part really came in trying to extract them from under her pillow. i kept trying to slip my hand under her pillow without waking her. let’s just say if it was a game of operation, cavity sam would have been lit up & buzzing like a beehive on meth. fuck. FUCK. i had to keep pretending like i had come in to kiss her good night. it was beginning to feel inappropriate. finally, right before she was supposed to wake up, i got the damn thing out & realized i didn’t know what to do with it. the kids have a habit of finding anything i don’t want them to find. christmas presents. sharp objects. the right channel to watch caillou on. g-d it. bridget was coming downstairs so i just put the tooth in a baggie and put it in my work bag. when i got to work, i just shoved it in the back of my top drawer, not knowing what else to do with it. and there those little chompers have laid in wait….just like the crazy inside of me does at the beginning of any relationship.
well the other day i came in to work and noticed my monitor was tilted to an odd angle…being that i’m not peter lorre in young frankenstein, i was pretty sure i hadn’t left it like that….then i noticed white streaks on the back of my chair. i thought maybe the cleaners had been moving stuff around to clean up. at lunch, i couldn’t find the apple in my desk i thought i had left there from earlier in the week…a sleeve of saltines was gone too…then i opened the top middle drawer of my desk and the 2 little baggies containing my toothfairy loot were sitting front & center in the drawer. someone had evidently gone thru my top drawer.
at first i was angry–but the more i thought about it, the more comical it was…because…well, all they found was teeth….that i still owe my daughter money for. i just kept picturing it…this person, carefully sliding the drawer open, slipping their hand inside my desk drawer like it’s a cheerleader’s sweater and they’re trying to round second….i imagined them searching, fondling all the things in my desk till their outstretched fingers grab the baggies that are rolled up and carefully hidden in the back of my desk…they are anticipating something….maybe pills, money…but something…what else would be hidden and so secure in the back of this desk? i picture them un-taping & unfurling the bag to find…
what the fuck?! are those teeth?
that’s right. no explanation. just little hard, stumpy instruments of gnashing–inexplicably left in a desk, waiting to bite… like office dentata.
and i’m pretty sure none of this is of the tradition…but when you can’t replicate the recipe, sometimes you just make it your own and pretend that you meant to do that all along…and then you put another dollar in the therapy fund for your kids…if you haven’t already purchased their teeth with it…me? i hope they enjoy the free hash brown at dunkin donuts and then mail me a letter about it…