Whitney Reed

Whitney Reed
September 03
This blog is a joint venture in which I write and he takes pictures.


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SEPTEMBER 12, 2011 9:33AM

Quiet Teeth

Rate: 9 Flag

© 2011 David Parker

I discovered my own teeth in my mother’s jewelry box when I was seven. I kept it a secret, not wanting to ask why she had them because I didn’t want to hear her speak the words to me: I am the Tooth Fairy. As if words make things true.

I remember visiting my dad’s dental office in the weeks that followed–my brother and I would run through the hall donning face masks, popping gloves at each other. In the lab there was a wall full of tiny drawers that held hundreds of mouths cast in white and yellow. Impressions. So many teeth. And it seemed almost impossible that the world could contain all of the teeth that had ever fallen out to make room for the teeth living in peoples’ mouths. I could think only of my own quiet teeth tucked away in a drawer among my mother’s large and loudly colored earrings of the early nineties. Standing before that wall of teeth, I was overwhelmed by how many trips the tooth fairy didn’t make.

Curious, though, is that I don’t have a single memory attached to losing any teeth. I can remember the way they felt against my tongue when they were lose, I can remember the holes they left behind, but I cannot remember losing a tooth. I know the Tooth Fairy visited me, but I can’t pin down a specific memory of it. So the Tooth Fairy didn’t become important to me, really, until it became an un-truth.

I don’t know if it began the day I made that discovery in my mother’s jewelry box, or maybe I discovered the teeth because of something inside of me, but it is true that for a long time, I’ve been looking everywhere–sifting through my sent mail, digging in the glove compartment, checking my coat pockets, opening drawers long-closed, picking up water glasses and searching through them from the bottom. Where is the un-truth? Or, when did what was true–so true–become un-true?

Last night, Ruthie lost her tooth at dinner and ate it. So we drew the Tooth Fairy a map of where in her belly it might be, and, after she’d fallen asleep, I stepped inside this un-truth as I deposited two dollars under her pillow. She was disappointed the fairy got away without leaving a trail of fairy dust behind. I was relieved that there were no teeth to hide.

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I love what (I think) Marcus Borg says: "Just because it didn't necessarily happen exactly that way, doesn't mean it isn't true." Good job on the creative tooth fairy map.
I keep trying to rate this but for some reason, it won't let me. Thanks for this sweet piece. I'll forever think of the term "quiet teeth" when I see my own kids' teeth inside my own jewelry box.
It never occured to me that teeth could be so charming.
Absolutely brilliant. Thank you for this excellent read.
My children's teeth are disintegrating in my jewelry box. Lovely post.
It is interesting that we all keep the teeth in our jewelry boxes. Because they are priceless.
Thank you so much for reading! Yes, it is funny that the teeth are such treasures.
Yes. I remember eating popcorn, thinking I had a kernel in my mouth I swallowed my tooth, and no tooth fairy visit that night. She insisted that I didn't have a tooth to hide, so no money. :(
Aw, that is really sad! (Though I'm not sure you can buy much with what the Tooth Fairy leaves at my house... )
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