Biff America: The bite of dilemma (column)
While there are many in this nation struggling to make ends meet, the tooth fairy, at least in my neighborhood, pays a living wage. As a result, our neighbor Mady is made of money. Mady is of that age when she has begun losing her baby teeth, thus stimulating her financial portfolio. She recently found five dollars under her pillow.
I’m not sure if the fiver was the price of one tooth or a stipend for year to date. Being unacquainted with the teeth-for-cash world I can only assume, if a ‘fiver’ is the going rate in Summit County, the little rug-rats of Pitkin County must be pulling down a C-Note per canine.
I learned of our neighbor’s good fortune by eavesdropping on a conversation she was having with my mate, Ellie.
Ellie was on her knees, weeding her garden while listening to a podcast just below my second floor home office window. The most used piece of equipment in that space is a futon cot. I have found, if I nap in the afternoon, I’m less likely to do so while driving or grocery shopping.
Ellie was about 15 feet below my open window clearing grass and clover creating an open space where she can plant overpriced plants with the life expectancy of a vegan restaurant in Oklahoma. I fell asleep to the sounds of dying weeds and the podcast she was listening to.
What woke me up was when the audio of her cellphone was replaced with the voice of Mady, our young neighbor. Our ’hood is full of kids and Mady is one of our favorites. This is partly because, unlike most of the neighborhoods kids — ages from 4 to 15 — to Mady we are not invisible.
As I teetered between sleep and consciousness, Mady told Ellie of her recent molar windfall. I was interested if the five bucks was per tooth, per month or year? It wasn’t just idle curiosity; the answer would go a long way in my decision whether to ever consider having children. Forever the skinflint, I did the math; most kids have about 20 baby teeth, so $5 times 20 teeth would make a sizable dent in the money that we will hemorrhage to plant flowers in the holes that Ellie created by weeding.
The following exchange woke me.
Ellie said, “Five dollars!! The tooth fairy must really like you.”
Mady said, “Yes, she is really nice … And pretty too.”
“She’s pretty? You have seen her? What does she look like?
Mady answered, “She has yellow hair — like mine — a gold dress, red shoes and green wings.”
Ellie asked, “She has wings? She can fly?”
Mady responded with an incredulous lilt, “Of course she can fly! She’s a fairy.” She explained that when tooth fairy flew into her room she pretended to be asleep, but peeked while the fairy flew over her bed. The next morning she said her pillow smelled like flowers.
I soon fell back asleep and — I swear to God — I dreamt that I could fly. I have that same flying dream often. It is both satisfying and not. Because in my dream I can only fly if I’m not aware that I’m flying. In other words, I’ll be hovering around and I think, “I’m flying! This is so cool!” and as soon as I become aware I slowly sink to land. So the trick is to fly but not appreciate it, which is fairly impossible.
I might define that peccadillo the same as being burdened with the awareness of adulthood. The gifted are those, either children or adults, who are open to dreams and fantasy.
Our neighbor has something in common with John Lennon, who said, “I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?”
I wish I could say I believed, with complete conviction, in tooth fairies, ghosts, gods, heaven and reincarnation. I used to, but with the years comes stiffness and skepticism. Perhaps that unsuspicious faith is reserved for children and visionaries — of which I am neither. But who knows — yes, the passing of years brings cynicism but it also has been known to cause tooth loss.
So there is hope……….
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s new book “Mind, Body, Soul.” is available at local shops and bookstores or shop.holpublications.com/products/biff-america-mind-body-soul
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