box was blue. The fairy on the little box had a pretty crown and a star wand.Mummy said she could put her dreams inside, on the tiny purple
cushion. The first tooth came out in an apple, and it didn't even hurt. She put
the tooth in the box before she went to sleep, and the next morning there was a
shiny quarter. Mummy said she could buy
a candy necklace. She felt like a princess.The same thing happened with her second tooth. The box was magic.
she opened the box, the hinge creaked. She wasn't sure the tooth fairy would
like this tooth. It was big and sharp. And it had hurt a lot when it came out.
There'd been blood, and Mummy had cried to see the pain. Mummy had been
frightened too, huffy-puffy, and her pretty leafy scarf had shivered even
though the sun was beating down. She'd grabbed Mummy's legs, buried her hot
face in her skirt. Piece of shit, the
man said before he hit Daddy. Go back
where you fucking came from.
She placed the tooth on the tiny purple cushion. She hoped
the fairy would like Daddy's tooth. She'd give the quarter to Mummy. And Daddy
would be back home soon. The box could do magic.
the sites to see on the Internet, most of us have had jaw-dropping experiences—enchanted
or appalled, we have seen things we can hardly credit. My jaw dropped when I
saw a video of a young man who dropped his so that shrimp could clean his teeth—under
water. Really. Apparently, it's win-win: the shrimp get lunch, and the teeth
get picked pristine.
Few of us are likely to want our teeth tickled by
submarine hygienists, but the process does seem simple, unlike dental
care on dry land. Take a wander down the aisles of any drugstore and you know
how how many things can go wrong. During the
day we have to brush, floss (and/or use a sulca brush), gargle, chew gum, suck mints, whiten. At night, many of us who grind our teeth get to clamp down on a nightguard.
we buy may have come off an assembly line, but the relationship we each have with our teeth is singular, from the very beginning. For me, there
were the heady 'cash for calcium' days of the tooth fairy when there
was clear compensation for loss.There
were the cavities from the sugar fairy who lived in boxes of Trix and packets
of Lik-m-aid. I never experienced the ignominy of braces, though it turns out
they would have been a good idea. So busy was I with baseball and dreaming as I
was growing up that I didn't notice the flaring of my lower lateral incisors.
Only when I was a young woman did someone kindly bring it to my attention: viewing
the head shots I'd had taken to further my acting career (they didn't), the young man marveled
that I didn't seem the least bit self conscious about my teeth. As for the implant a decade ago, the less said the better.
A few years ago, however, my then dentist urged me to get
a bite splint. Passionate about her profession and delighted by its drama, she
was vivid in her descriptions of what could happen if I continued to grind my
teeth. If I recall correctly, the sun would slap the earth, and mountains would
teeter and fall.
When I finally
acknowledged the need for a splint, I decided to save some money and pull one
right off the drugstore shelf--write-off being the operative term. The thing had to be softened so
that it would mold to my teeth, and so I got out the saucepan and fired up a
burner. It smelled like I was boiling Barbie, and the splint never fit well. I finally
got one tailor made by the dentist, who made a mold from putty--nothing beats a Play-doh party in your mouth.
teeth marks in my splint, but the effects of the grinding have been averted.
And I am grateful: bruxism turns teeth into stumps, may even cause
hearing loss. My father got false teeth when he was in his forties. Too young
to visit him in the hospital, I did see him wave from a high window, and though
the pain he endured may have been a small price to pay for a few days' respite
from his noisy family, to my little heart he seemed lonely.And I wonder … Before his teeth were pulled out by the roots, did
he have those unsettling dreams many of us have of losing our teeth? Did he
have them after, when his mouth was empty? What does it mean to a mouth to be
just gum and bone?
people believe that dreams in which we lose our teeth reflect a sense of
powerlessness, and it is easy to see why: we have to be able to clamp down on
life, in play or for real. Others, however, say these dreams speak to change, to transformation,
to possibility: the old is ceding to the new. Given the choice, I'm with the tooth fairy. I will always
be big on compensating for loss with pristine hope.
She hated shopping for a purse—her life depended on it. The bag had to have the right number and size of pockets, a sturdy clasp, insides that could be J-Clothed clean. It had to accommodate the wallet and wet wipes, the lipstick and deodorant, the pantyhose and pup tent. She had to know, when she clicked her purse closed before she went through the door each day, that she need not need die of fright.
But each day the world seemed more dangerous, and so every morning there was more to pack. When the weight made the muscles in her shoulder and back burn and seize, she slid a yogurt tub of Rub-A535 into the purse, where it snugged up against the portable generator.
The day she stumbled over the bag and broke an ankle that released a clot that headed for her brain, she didn't have time to reach for the scalpel zipped in a side pocket with her TicTacs. As the medics slid the gurney into the ambulance, they told her a tow truck would come for her things. When the doors clicked closed, she pursed her lips. I was not prepared for this, she thought and then laughed as she slipped away into white.
Slip these breath mints into a side pocket of your bag-- they'll save the day!
It is not easy to choose a purse. Compact or commodious? Snap close or zipper? Charcoal or mountain meadow green? Deeper than wide or wider than deep? These decisions are crucial because a purse is one of a woman's most intimate companions. It lets us believe that we are ready for anything the day brings, for all the potentially humiliating rebellions of the body. Be prepared, I learned as a Brownie. Travel-sized bottles, jars and packets are the universe's way of saying "Go in peace."
Given the intimacy of that relationship, I was surprised to learn of another fashion trend I had missed: in the spring of this year, the must-have item was touted to be a see-through bag. While a transparent purse would save airport security a lot of little plastic bags, most of us can't see our way clear to choosing a particular bag just because it would cut costs for billion-dollar industries. At any rate, as it turns out, the trend did not catch fire--not a misfortune to my way of thinking given that a purse is a repository of existential angst.
To the extent the see-through bag did sell, it is obvious that those who bought in are not primarily concerned with contingency planning or privacy. What's in the bag is meant to be seen and, one assumes, admired--to be seen is to be believed. The ethos that gives rise to such purchasing behaviour reflects the values of the Victorian promenade (The Prom) where the well-heeled went to preen. These days, if teen magazines are to be believed, the high school prom is an update of the Victorian. The focus is on the dress, the hair, the makeup, the stretch limo--one's date/companion is simply another accessory. It seems we have to make a spectacle of ourselves.
Transparency is good with respect to the powerful, the state, the corporation. But to what extent are we beginning to believe that what we see is always what we get—or what we are? If the way ahead is clear, it seems the surface is becoming the substance. How long will it be before we are all wider than we are deep?
Here's an offering from the Huffington Post I found a bit disturbing: A Guide To The Best Facial Scrubs For Scrubbing Grossness Out Of Your Skin. Okay, dirt and smog—they get into my skin, and under it, but would I label them grossness? That term I generally reserve for things like the bag of organic waste that sits, forgotten, in the basement for three weeks. For skin fill—no.
The biggest organ of the body, human skin weighs only around six pounds, about the same as a chihuahua (with a red bow but not in a purse). Its emotional heft is, however, much greater. We meet deadlines by the skin of our teeth, jump out of our skin, try to save our skin. Our emotions write themselves on our flesh: we blush, we break out, we crack open. Skin is far more than a practical and sometimes lovely duvet cover. It protects us, regulates our systems, and conducts sensation—all reasons to love the bag we're in.
Still, I do understand the appeal of the HuffPost article. Who wouldn't like skin that looks after us and looks perfect? Smooth beats bumpy, firm trumps droopy, and (apparently) poreless skin seems eminently desirable. Scanning the pictures of airbrushed models in magazines, I cannot but admire that resolute impermeability, and to get it, I have tried many lotions and potions on my wayward skin. I favor facial scrubs because I still believe that somewhere underneath is my true skin: it is velvet and supple, and it glows with radiant good health. In recent years, so hell bent have I been on uncovering the young me that I have nearly flayed myself. One morning last February I was sure the knock on the door meant the Body Worlds people had come around for a donation.
Nonetheless, at a certain point, we must accept that time will win, and so I am learning to keep my expectations low. Those abrasive bits in facial scrubs are truly grit, not tiny magic bullets--it is enough to feel refreshed. It turns out, however, that some brands contain little plastic beads, and when water from the tap whisks them down the drain, those beads reach the Great Lakes and eventually, one may assume, the Atlantic. To their credit, some of the manufacturers, confronted with the science, are changing their formulas, but that takes time, and so the beads go on. You can almost hear those really irritated oysters: Are you ?@#!! kidding me?
It can be a struggle to remember that our ideals of youth and beauty serve the interests of the corporations whose products will, they assure us, help us embody those ideals. The lengths we will go to try to make ourselves feel young and/or beautiful (or at least presentable) is, of course, a personal decision, but the fact that our obsession with a perfect complexion is harming the oceans is a fact we can no longer simply slough off. It is skin off our collective nose.