The Tooth Fairy
"Wally my boy, always take good care of your teeth," my grandpa once advised me, "you will die a happy man." I was seventeen then and thought my grandpa to be senile. What I failed to realize was this wisdom came from his full set of gleaming teeth at the age of eighty.
Invincible as I was, I promptly forgot his advice and went on to become an accomplished paediatrician.
My best friend, Howard, went on to become a dentist. At our celebration party, I raised a toast to him, "My gramps would’ve been proud of you Howie."
"I’ll drink to that!" he guffawed and we celebrated into the wee hours of the night.
Just before my thirtieth year, I married Anna, my childhood sweetheart. It was one of the best days of my life. In fact life couldn’t be any better. I had my own practice that was flourishing, a posh five bedroom house with its own swimming pool, a brand new sports car and I was on my way to the Bahamas for my honeymoon. What, I asked to no one in particular, could possibly go wrong here?
Ten months later, Anna divorced me and got married to Howie.
"A dentist," she enlightened me, "is never called away on emergencies. Neither does he miss important social engagements. He also charges double the amount a paediatrician does. And his clients always come back."
Somewhere from beneath the realms of my buried memories, grandpa’s words arose like trapped air bubbles from water.
"You will die a happy man," I repeated the words slowly and in complete awe of grandpa’s prophetic abilities. Well, gramps, Anna sure did take good care of her teeth.
Two years later, I was a blissfully happy man. I dated several women but there was no special lady in my life. A life without commitments suited me just fine. One good thing that came of my divorce was that I learned to give myself more time. I regularly accepted dinner invitations, partied most weekends, went on long drives along winding roads and even went on camping trips.
"Oh yes, life couldn’t be any better!" I gloated to myself on the eve of my thirty-second birthday. The next morning I awoke with a toothache.
"Take good care of your teeth You will die a happy man," grandpa’s words reverberated through my grey matter but I refused to be intimidated.
I checked the trouble maker in the bathroom mirror and decided it was nothing but a small cavity. An aspirin was what this doctor prescribed and an aspirin was what this doctor was going to have. There really wasn’t any need to go to the dentist.
By the end of the day, I had had four aspirins and they were fighting a losing battle against the toothache. I stuck my tongue into the cavity and was pleasantly surprised to find that the pain subsided radically. Proud of finding such a simple solution I settled to attend to my last patient of the day.
"Shend ‘em in pleazh, Rhose," I asked my receptionist through the speaker phone.
"What’s in your mouth, doc?" Rose asked back.
"Nothing," I replied, removing my tongue from the cavity, "Send the patient please." Ooooowwwwww, that hurt! I almost howled out loud and placed my tongue on the cavity again. God! That was much better!
I regained my genial composure just as my next patient walked it with the most stunning woman I had ever laid my eyes on. She came to stop by the visitor’s chairs and smiled offering her hand. "Good evening Doctor, I’m Sara Palmer and this is my daughter Joanne."
I took her soft hand staring at her with a dumb look. A tiny giggle snapped me out of my mesmerized state and I gestured at the empty chairs. "Have a seat please," I spoke before realizing the jolt of pain that ran all the way from my brain and back as soon as the cavity was unplugged. "Oommph," I mumbled a muted cry and jumped out of my chair before two pairs of startled eyes, to run all the way to the washroom.
There I frantically searched for the ideal plug I was looking for the cavity and finally squeezed in a small piece of cotton wool. The pain subsided immediately. I returned to my observation room wiping my hands on a large towel as though I had gone to wash my hands.
"Well, well," I smiled, nodding continuously and feeling like a complete idiot. "Sara Palmer, Sara Palmer, let’s see where the nurse has placed your file." I rummaged through files on my desk, smiling all the time. It wasn’t there and I said so, still smiling widely.
"Of course, it isn’t, doctor," the woman of my dreams said slowly, "My daughter’s name is Joanne."
"So it is! What a mix up! Ha, ha, ha." Sara smiled politely while I went back to searching for the file. I found it and spent the next half hour examining eight year old Joanne. I used all my friendly doctor’s talk to make her feel comfortable and finally wrote her a prescription that I handed to her mother. "Here you go, Mrs. Palmer. She’ll be up and about in a couple of days."
"Thank you so much doctor," Sara replied gratefully and nudged Joanne to follow suit.
"Thank you doctor," Joanne said obediently, then as an afterthought she added, "Why do you have a marble in your mouth?"
There was a stunned period of silence before Sara frowned at her daughter. "Joanne! Where are your manners?"
"I’m sorry," Joanne mumbled.
"Oh that’s quite all right," I offered graciously and watched them rise from their seats. Sara was apologizing repeatedly on her daughter’s behalf and then they were closing the door behind them.
Alone, I let out a sigh of relief that was strangely mixed with one of resignation. I had met the most gorgeous woman on earth but she was married. No chance there. Instead I had a weekend full of toothache for company. I decided to call and cancel the camping trip I had planned with some friends.
I was just hanging up after that call when a knock sounded on my door. "Come in," I called out expecting the nurse and Rose announcing their departure.
Instead, Sara Palmer came in looking a bit hesitant. My heart skipped a beat at the mere sight of her. "Doctor, I’m sorry to be here unannounced, you’re receptionist isn’t on her seat."
"That’s perfectly all right, Mrs. Palmer," I replied graciously, barely managing to keep the excitement out of my voice, "Was there something you wanted to know?" I meant about her daughter’s health naturally.
"It’s Ms.Palmer actually, I’m divorced and yes, I did want to know something. What exactly do you have in your mouth?"
My jaw fell open. Literally.
She came forward quickly. "Please don’t misunderstand, doctor, I don’t mean to be rude."
"Uh, that’s okay," I managed feeling awkward and stupid at the same time. Here my heart was beating like an African drum and she was talking about what was in my mouth!
"It’s a bad tooth isn’t it?"
I turned a nice shade of scarlet. "Uh, yes."
"Can I have a look at it? If you don’t mind of course."
Mind? Why would I mind?
She came up and practically led me to the examination bed. "I know this is highly irregular but I can’t pass a bad tooth without looking at it."
"Come again?" I asked perplexed while obliging her and lying down on the bed.
She smiled her beautiful smile of sparkling teeth. "I’m the tooth fairy of course doctor."
It was time for me to smile back. Widely. "You’re a dentist?"
"Naturally," she replied with a wink.
Ah, yes, life couldn’t be any better. I was sure to die a happy man now that my teeth were being taken care of. Hats off to you, gramps, you were right all along.