Santa Claus was a ruse it took me a while to get wise to but the Tooth Fairy was one I was happy to let linger.
See, you can’t really scam Santa Claus. You can ask for a pony. Or a microscope set and maybe he’ll get it but there’s no fraudulence involved in this transaction of hope. It’s simply using Christmas cheer as a currency on which to trade.
The tooth fairy, however, is a concept ripe for insider trading.
I didn’t know who the tooth fairy was and nor did I particularly care. She was leaving me $2 per tooth under my pillow each night and it wouldn’t have mattered if she were a goanna in butterfly wings.
I was positively mortified at the thought of losing my first tooth as if, in some small way, a part of my essence was attached to it and would therefore diminish when the tooth fell out.
But the first morning I awoke and found the money under my pillow was like accidentally investing in a mining venture that had produced previously unknown quantities of coal.
“Money, for my teeth?” I asked myself in a moment of joyous awe. “Why I have a whole mouth filled with these! I’m rich!”
But money for teeth is more like a pension fund, eked out at lengthy intervals and which you can’t get in a lump sum payment. Well, you could if you had a pair of pliers, some pain relief and the tenacity of a thousand bull terriers.
I needed a better plan.
This next bit of information is not for the squeamish. There was a horse graveyard where we lived – all natural causes, mind – and my brother and I noticed one day how particularly large a single horse tooth is. Larger still when you’ve, err, removed it.
We weren’t economists, granted, which is why we figured the larger something is the more it is worth. It worked for gold, diamonds and houses generally so we figured we had stumbled across a money-making venture rivalled by none. After all, the tooth fairy’s name is not species specific.
We placed two horse teeth under our pillow and practically booked flights for the following morning on the leer jets we would most surely be able to afford.
50 cents. That’s how much we received. We were duded by that used-car salesman of a fairy who would probably on-sell our horse teeth for six times that value...at least!
She obviously had scant regard for the amount of time it took to procure those teeth.
I kind of knew, by this point, that the tooth fairy was an elaborate construct from our parents designed to turn the traumatic experience of losing teeth from ‘oh my God my FACE is falling off’ to ‘I want this to happen some more so I can buy a roll-up’.
It worked, although I never had any direct proof that the tooth fairy was my mother until that fateful day when I was going through her trinkets on the dressing table.
I found a beautiful, heart-shaped crystal style device and opened it up to see what lay inside.
It was filled with teeth. Tiny young chompers. At least six of them.
My mother was either adorably trying to hang on to our youth or had desires for the creepiest necklace known to mankind.
This was horror movie grade stuff and I hadn’t even seen a horror movie at this age. I just knew, instinctively, that anybody who collects a crystal case filled with actual human teeth must surely make those around them uneasy.
Mum has never confirmed, to this day, what her plans were with out teeth.
So far as I know she has never practiced any voodoo, which is soothing, I suppose.
As for the tooth fairy, kids, it’s a lot like the entire Mini Disc industry. You can only make money from it for a very short while and then it’s an albatross around your neck.