Saturday, 10 May 2008
A Chattering of Teeth
Niccolo Machiavelli has passed into modern idiom as a metaphor for obfuscation, manipulation and - lets say it plainly - spin. A sixteenth-century author of a manual for rulers and statesmen wishing to stay in power, he comments that being hated is not good - it can stir up too much resentment. However, doing stuff behind the scenes which flauts all acceptable moral codes, but maintains the status quo, is pretty much okay...the status quo being the big be-all and end-all for the tush on the velvet cush.
"The Prince" makes interesting reading. However...I would have to say that I did not think it had been published in twenty-four point helvetica, illustrated with friendly culturally diverse cartoon children, and presented in a tear-proof plastic wallet. No - "the Prince" is not one of the selection of stories in the "Oxford Reading tree", a series I admire. I wonder, then, how my five-year-old, who has never been organised enough to return her first library book this year, can have obtained access to the cunning machinations laid out in the Florentine's thesis.
But somehow...she has.
Yesterday morning, I rose early. I rose early, because I had a moral duty to perform. A tooth had been presented to me the night before - at ten-thirty pm, and I had no cash to augment the Tooth-Fairy's then empty coffers. She was done for the night, I said. She was a one-woman business. She worked crazy hours, and had to knock-off at ten, to preserve her sanity. And wash her very very smalls. Payment would follow the next day, when my daughter's tooth would become top task on the roster.
The offspring took this well. She has an ongoing correspondence with the Tooth-Fairy, and trusts that she will deliver. She has even discussed the pink curly-fonted rose-emoticonned emails, posing as IOU's, with spellbound classmates.
The Tooth fairy is a pragmatic girl. She is an edgy lass who is a sort of rebel at the gates of dawn. she is Boudica in her chariot, with espadrilles ( the original kind with flat heels) and unshaven calves. She wears her "Mountain" tee-shirt emblazoned with ravening Wolf fangs with aplomb, beneath her tiny leather jacket, grown from mouse stem cells. (I read about this. It exists as actual art in a famous gallery. But I am feeling a mite queasy today, so am not going to google a picture. Nope.)
Anyhoo...the Tooth Fairy could hire help, but, like I said, she is a one-woman show. Iconic. If she went out to franchise, standards might slip. And somehow...she might lose out to her disloyal shareholders, and be forced to wear a Barbie Mariposa outfit, with strobing karaoke wings. Goth-girls, even weeny-teeny ones, like to plough their own furrow. And yeah...she has to be a Goth...cos there is something sort of alternative about what she does. Something out-there, mysterious, ill-defined. There is some purpose in her egalitarian activities/proclivities, but no one can exactly say what. whatever they are, my guess is that they are edgy, but also environmentally friendly. She will most likely have an Ebay shop, liberally bespotted with dragons and orbs, and selling vaguely familiar-looking pearly enamel beads. she is a rockin recycler.
This is what she wrote:
"Wow! That was a late tooth-wiggle and pop-out! You caught me on the way home. My fairy antenna buzzed, but I had run out of coins. If you like, I can leave a surprise present instead of money. I see you like Littlest Pet Shop! So do I, my dear.
You have been a good customer, and might like a change. If money is best, then I will leave that instead. Just put a note under your pillow, or tell your Mummy, and I will overhear, as I'll be back in Dundee tomorrow, and my fairy hearing is excellent. Woo hoo!
Much love to you,
The Tooth Fairy"
It was a nice letter, and well-received. Moved by the same collectivist OCD principles which have passed to my daughter's DNA, I spotted and boughted a large tin box of "Littlest Pet Shop" toys, which I knew would go down very well. Indeed, they elicited a heartwarming whoop of infantile joy.
However...a few hours later, the spell was broken. Grandma came to collect the small one for an overnight stay, and raised a grey pall of doubt over the aforementioned tooth. I recalled the scene...the surprised "Oooh", and the handing over of the shiny pearly item. The ritual pointing-out of where the tooth had originated. It all seemed above-board. However, Grandma was smelling the proverbial rat. She remembered another tooth, lost a fortnight before, which had gone missing before the tooth fairy had dutifully paid a generous five pounds sterling for it. This tooth, Grandma prognosticated, was a Scarlet Pimpernel amongst milk teeth, and had popped back like a bad penny to spirit away more funds for some dubious cause.
No. The implications of this were too enormous.
1. My sweet and dainty daughter is as cunning as a Renaissance Florentine spin-doctor.
2. I am an unfit mother, not to have noticed that the gap was healed.
3. I was well and truly duped, although I like to think my teacher's sixth-sense is still functioning, though long out of use.
4. It is a wizard wheeze, which I would never have had the gall to attempt, even if it had crossed my mind. Which it didn't.
Nevertheless, I didn't believe the accusation. It seemed kind of way beyond the bounds of normal infantile deviousness. She held to her original story. But there was definitely a waver. An ever so slight disinclination to look me square in the eye - a disinclination which pleased me, a it took the edge off my fears of innate sociopathy.
A day later, when it became clear that the selection of huge-eyed wobble-headed plastic creatures with magnetic bottoms would not be returning to Woolworths, the truth came out. Or, as near as I may ever get to the truth. I shall paraphrase.
It started out as a game. But I believed her. The lie escalated into untold portals of potential gain. She kept schtoom. She never actually stated directly, that the tooth had fallen-out at that given time. She may have given powerful indications that it had, but not direct notification in actual words.
I am seeing a curly wig and ermine in her future.
And mayhap, a cosy Georgian town-house in a very smart part of London, with a granny flat, full of nearly-new but frivolously cast-aside qwerty-mobiles, laptops, and video iPods. a comfy little place. Not too far from the Natural History Museum. or maybe the Tower, and Wagamama's noodle bar.
I am feeling a little more steady on my pins.