There really are Tooth Fairies. Each of us has one of our own. They live in beautiful, rich, dark canals, hidden from society, just the way they like it. They are shy. But demanding. When conditions in their lagoons change, they simply move into another neighborhood. Tooth Fairies do not leave money under your pillow, as is commonly (mis)understood. They cost you money when they visit, hefty fees for relocation and moving expenses.

My Tooth Fairy began rapping on the walls of her Tooth Canal one day, oh, about a year ago. But I was very, very busy. Too busy to pay attention. She gave up, and went away, but kept returning. And over the course of this summer she became more and more insistent--stabbing me with her little stinger (commonly thought to be a wand) when she wasn't banging on my jaw. Did I answer? Deadlines!

The moment my last deadline was over--and it was a doozy, days and nights at the computer for an EDF project--I took a nosedive into my beautiful bed with its newly cleaned, starchy white pillows. And my Tooth Fairy returned. Madder than a wet hornet.

An emergency trip to the dentist ("Gee, how did you let this go so long? I can't remember when I've seen such a mess....) and many hours and many dollar bills and many pills later, and now, finally, I can sleep--under the influence of painkillers and antibiotics.

I have spent my life mastering the Art of Denial (when I'm not Quaking in Oversensitivity). I do a good job of convincing myself that something I don't want to happen is, indeed, not happening. I learned this in childhood. Useful?

As the daughter of a surgeon, I also learned not to complain about, say, a stomach ache, or a sore knee. "Why, we'll just cut that out! Now where did I put that scalpel?" Useful?

In childhood I also learned that most problems are recognized with a high exaggeration quotient. My father would see a crack in the wall and, "Well, looks like the house is about to fall down." As the house never did fall down, I assumed this meant that cracks are meaningless. Useful?

I also happen to be blessed, or cursed, with a particularly high pain threshold. Quite useful during childbirth--I didn't start begging for painkillers until it was way too late. Useful?

The end result of all these useful, or useless, life lessons: When I feel a small pain, like a toothache, I immediately think, oh, it must be lymphatic cancer, or a brain tumor. Then I think, that's absurd. So it must be nothing. I'll just ignore it.

Childhood lessons probably belong in childhood. Now I must sort out the lessons I have learned over a lifetime of adaptation--useless from useful.

I was so stunned by the pain and misery visited upon me by the Tooth Fairy that when I got home all I could do was sit on the floor. I happened to land near my filing cabinets, and I noticed that they, too, were in a state of woeful neglect. The File Fairy had covered them with slimy trails to attract my attention. (File Fairies look like snails.) Why file (and watch over finances, and taxes, and insurance, and other miserable subjects) when you can be filing for deadlines?

Life--the basic, everyday, tasks that make up much of a life--is screaming for attention. The Lesson of the Tooth Fairy is simple: Take care of trouble before trouble takes care of you.

I would like to tell you that it is possible to turn over a new leaf, and become a fully integrated, highly functioning human being who has everything under control. But does anyone believe such creatures exist?

1 comment:

city said...

thanks for share..