There should be a name for the dance that is universal among children upon making the thrilling discovery that you have just been added to the list of pending visits by the tooth fairy. I imagined a huge pearly mound of teeth to be used for the little bracelets given newborns as a welcome to this world. I felt pride that one of my very own teeth would soon grace a tiny baby’s wrist. I could imagine the tooth fairy’s golden waves of hair shimmering in the breeze, as she was delighted by the discovery of the especially lovely pearl that was my tooth.
During my visit, I became obsessed with that tooth. I accompanied my elder cousin Roger on his paper route, chasing down the ice cream truck and feeling the jolt as the blue Popsicle I savored made contact with a nerve. As we played in one of the numerous forts around the property, I pinched my tongue on the rough edge of tooth at gum level. I wiggled and prodded that tooth as I watched in horror the tiny “robots” attacking the old lady on the Twilight Zone, tasting the first salty sour gush of blood. I was sure that it was the tooth fairy responsible for making it pour rain on our side of the street even as the sun shined in the front yard on the other side. When we went to the penny candy store, my aunt suggested that rather than something hard or chewy, I get the wax “bottles” filled with sweet liquid goo. I shadowed my cousins in their mischievous shenanigans as we trespassed in Mr. Spinney’s cornfield only to be chased away in the manner of Peter Rabbit by Mr. MacGreggor, my tooth swinging by that last thread of flesh, refusing to let go. My uncle suggested tying tooth to string to doorknob and slamming the door in order to yank the thing out once and for all.
As I lay awake in the middle of the night, flinging it around inside my mouth with my tongue, the tooth let go. I placed it under my pillow certain that the tooth fairy would at last make an appearance. Hardly able to sleep the rest of the night, my tongue incessantly poked around in the slimy, metallic-tasting hole that remained.
To my great dismay, when I checked under the pillow the next morning, there lay the tooth, and I was none the richer. Upon entering the kitchen close to tears, I was greeted with the news that my mother had been in a car accident and I would be leaving that morning as soon as we could get ready. I cried. Not for my mother. Not for the fact that I had to go home early. I cried because the tooth fairy had not seen fit to collect my tooth and leave the long anticipated coin.
A short while later, as we were preparing to leave, my aunt came rushing down the stairs to show me the quarter that she had found on the floor while making the bed. It took a fair number of years to figure out why that was the only time I ever got a quarter instead of a dime! – RDW (11-2-07)