Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Another installment of Small Town Tooth

By Karrie McAllister

I love living in a small town. I love the fact that I recognize the same people around town. I love the idea that most people are related to someone I know. I love the thought that I’d better always keep my game face on, because surely if I do something wrong, my mother-in-law will find out.
I am, I admit, a transplant to this area. Having grown up in the suburbs of Cleveland, my vision of small towns in this area was anything but pleasant. Certainly they must be full of terrible gossip and nosiness, not to mention always smelling like a cow pasture.
And while it’s true that news travels as fast as the farm odor on a windy day, before living in a small town, I didn’t realize just how sweet a place it really is, how people you don’t really even know can offer a hand in an awful situation.
For example, after leaving the doctor’s office with the possibility of bad news coming my way, sobbing my way out the door I saw the local children’s librarian. Overwhelmed with emotion, I could do nothing but hug her. And she hugged back, not knowing the issue, only that a hysterical person she recognized needed some comfort.
That’s why I love a small town.
My list of stories could go on and on, but one recent one is worth noting.
My daughter, on the verge of turning six, has had a loose tooth dangling out of the bottom of her mouth for longer than I care to mention. I didn’t have the guts to pull it out because I knew she would be afraid and I would be exercising my trigger of a gag reflex. So it just hung there and hung there.
Until a few days ago.
It was a Saturday afternoon, and we left the boys at home to have a girls-only trip to the grocery store. Rounding the end of one aisle and turning up towards the candy and coffee (our favorite vices), I hear my daughter break into panic-mode.
“My tooth! My tooth fell out!” And she runs screaming towards the chocolate bars.
“What? Where? How?” I ask, but she is too frantic to answer with any clarity.
“We’ll never find it! I lost it right here and the floor is white!”
By this time, we had gathered the attention of the cashiers and nearby shoppers.
“Nobody move!” I commanded, waving my arms around. “Her tooth is somewhere on the floor in this general area!”
And being the kind-hearted small-town people that were there, I had helpers blocking off all of the aisles, telling others to “go around, the girl lost a tooth.” Someone mentioned a broom, others were looking under displays.
So, with their assistance and my daughter safely sobbing near the bin of suckers, I hit the floor. Crawling around, squinting against the glare of the lights, I thought all was lost.
Baby teeth, for those not aware, are absolutely miniscule. Especially front bottom teeth, which are the smallest by far, and finding it seemed like the needle in the haystack would be a cakewalk.
Call it a miracle, call it a sign, call it just plain lucky, but I found the tooth. It was there, in all of it’s smallness, in the middle of the aisle amidst a white backdrop. If it weren’t for the ladies keeping shoppers at bay, that little tooth would have surely gotten kicked into the great abyss, never to be seen again.
So to those ladies, I thank you for your kindness and your concern. It is people like you who make living in a small town so very sweet.
And my daughter sends her thanks, too. She got two bucks from the tooth fairy.

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