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Yesterday Rowan lost a tooth.
This isn’t the first tooth she has lost – the two bottom front ones went the way of all flesh many months ago. At that time I first broached the subject of the Tooth Fairy, only to be roundly ridiculed by the pig.
She: “Mummy, fairies aren’t real! That’s ridiculous!”
Me: “Well, you don’t have to believe they’re real. But it’s fun to pretend, because when you put your tooth under your pillow you get money.”
She: “That’s insane. I’m not going to do that.”
Me, disbelievingly (revealing, perhaps, a strong streak of Scottish blood): “But you GET MONEY!”
She, dismissively: “I have lots of money.”
But that was then. Now, Rowan is a wiser and more practical pig, not above taking advantage of a parent’s whimsy in order to fund her chocolate-bar habit. So yesterday when a tiny canine dislodged itself – quietly and with minimal fuss, I’m happy to say – Rowan announced with a masterful blend of cynicism and condescension that she would try putting her tooth under her pillow just this once, but that she didn’t expect it to come to anything.
And so help us, we were out of cash.
Who carries cash about with them these days anyway? I mean, now that I drive I do try to keep the odd coin about my person for the parking meter, but between that and the pigs’ addiction to those child cancer wishing well gizmos, I rarely have twenty cents to rub together – let alone a dollar, which I had incautiously revealed as the going rate.
It was 10:30 at night. Neither Helpdesk Man nor myself was prepared to actually drive into town in search of an establishment a) still open, b) not a strip club and c) willing to put through a $1 EFTPOS transaction. Helpdesk Man checked his wallet, my purse, his coin pocket, the coin pocket of his other pants, his desk drawers, the back of the tallboy and the wardrobe floor. No dice.
Our options seemed to be as follows:
-Leave the tooth in situ and give Rowan a lame “Oh dear, she must have forgotten; let’s try again tonight” speech in the morning. (Rejected due to obvious patheticness.)
-Write a tiny IOU note in wobbly Tooth Fairy writing. (Rejected due to Helpdesk Man’s claim that this was just as pathetic. I thought it was clearly less pathetic, but I was already in bed and would have to get up to write the note, so I conceded graciously.)
-Print out a picture of a Tooth Fairy, slip it under her pillow and claim in the morning she squashed the Tooth Fairy in the act with her enormous heavy head during the night. (Also rejected by Helpdesk Man, who has no sense of Charm.)
-Replace the promised dollar with chocolate. (Rejected after brief consideration as potentially melty and liable to be scorned by the pig, who knows her rights; besides, Helpdesk Man had eaten it all.)
-Find Rowan’s current stash of coins and borrow a dollar out of it, hoping she wouldn’t notice until we got a chance to replace it. (Helpdesk Man had qualms, but I would have totally gone for this; unfortunately, she’d asked me to count it the day before and I recalled she only had a bunch of silver and a $2 coin. A pile of twenty-cent pieces would make a noticeable dent in the stash, as well as implying the Tooth Fairy was pitiably broke; and setting a $2-a-tooth precedent is the way down which lies madness.)
We were staring at each other in despair when I suggested Helpdesk Man check the car. We have a Forrester – a big, ugly brute of a thing (and the fourth most stolen car in New Zealand, whodathunk?), but its one redeeming feature is a plethora of little slots and compartments. I’m fond of small hidey spaces, and you can’t plop your elbow down in the Forrester without it falling into a hitherto-unsuspected bit of moulding designed to hold one’s sunglasses, Coke cup, knuckle-dusters, police-amusing baggie of oregano, etc. It seemed plausible one of them might contain a spot of coinage, popped thoughtfully there in richer days as a safeguard against the chaps who clean your windshield at the lights.
Anyway, off he trucked, and returned after a very long time with seventy cents and a Samoan tala. (“They were in the coin compartment. They must’ve been from the previous owner.” “Wait, we have a coin compartment?” We do, apparently. No idea what it looks like; the Forrester reveals its secrets slowly, like unto the unfurling rose or, come to think of it, the TARDIS.)
Long story short? Our Tooth Fairy mythos now contains special Tooth Fairy coins, which are prettier than regular money but can be exchanged for boring old Kiwi dollars when Helpdesk Man next goes to the supermarket. Tooth Fairy coins are largeish, gold, slightly fluted around the edges, and if by spectacular coincidence they happen to have a profile of the king of Samoa on one side, what of it? Maybe the Tooth Fairy’s a fan of taro.
Of course, the hard part now is preventing Helpdesk Man from losing the tala before Rowan finishes losing her teeth. After all, regular non-magic money isn’t going to cut it any more… We may have erred.