Friday, March 19, 2010

The market price of tooth

I lost my first tooth while eating pizza and watching The Dark Crystal, banished to the family room while my parents played pinochle with my aunt and uncle in the kitchen. The memory is so vivid, running up the steps, blood dripping down my chin and shaking with fear and excitement while someone called trump and my uncle said, “well finally. I was about ready to yank that thing out.”
I was not particularly fond of losing teeth, mostly because the taste of blood grossed me out. I wasn’t one of those people who would flip a dangling tooth around with my tongue, pushing it in and out across my lips. Instead, I was one of those who let it hang on by literally a thread until the skin finally gave way. Then I’d put the tiny thing inside a yellow pocket that was sewed onto a giant stuffed tooth, leave it under my pillow, and wait until morning.
The Tooth Fairy was not something I remember thinking too much about. She brought me half dollars or two-dollar bills, always something special, and took my tooth away for some unknown purpose. Was it to build her giant castle made of teeth? Maybe. It was a mystery but not one that I remember over-thinking.
Things changed though, when my children started losing teeth. I began to wonder what inflation had done to the price of pearly whites. Two-dollar bills and half dollar coins don’t seem as prevalent as they were so many years ago. I figured the reward had gone to straight street cash. So after my daughter’s first tooth fell out at the grocery store and we had to crawl around on the floor to find it, I thought the thing should be worth millions.
Before the shopping spree to spend the reward money, I asked my friends whose children had lost teeth what was the going price was for a baby tooth. Surprisingly, the Tooth Fairy has no financial formula for what she gives out. Some kids, even those with very nice teeth, get a quarter. Others, and I’ve heard this specifically from a friend in Boston, actually get twenty bucks for a tooth. (Upon hearing this I wondered if it would be financially viable to knock my own out and just eat soup.) Some chlidren get books or crayons, others just a note. Sometimes, I hear, she doesn’t even take the tooth—just leaves it there for the kid to keep and save. Although to be honest, I’m not sure what a kid would do with a tooth except try to stick it under their pillow again and get more loot.
Turns out the Tooth Fairy that visits our house gives a tad more for special teeth, such as the first one lost and any that have undergone any sort of extraordinary circumstances, like the one my daughter lost in a wrestling match with her brother. So it comes to no surprise to me that my clever champion wrestler of a son, who is now at the age of entering the tooth market, is dead set on banking some serious bucks for his chompers.
Yes, he’s a wiggler and a flipper and a yanker. (My uncle would be proud.) If he lived in Boston, he’d probably just punch his own teeth out for the cash value alone. So far, he’s pulled out two loose ones, both a bit before their time and both in strange places. If you’ve ever had to ding a stewardess on a plane somewhere over Nebraska and ask for more napkins because you’re contending with a bloody tooth, it won’t be the first time it’s ever happened.
I told him he should have just tossed the tooth right out of the window of the airplane so that the Tooth Fairy might compensate him for transportation fees. Being up so high, she wouldn’t have to lug that tooth all the way from the safety of his pillow to her tooth castle in the sky.

1 comments:

BECKY said...

You crack me up! Hey...go to my blog..You've been nominated for something!! :)

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