(Editor’s Note: This post is part of a monthly feature in which Ryan takes an actual letter written to “Dear Abby” and answers it himself. For further background see the introductory post here, or maybe also here. Nine out of ten dentists recommend this advice column over all other advice columns. The tenth dentist surveyed was not able to comment due to a water pick-related accident.)
This month’s letter was published on September 9, 2012, and quoted in full, reads as follows:
DEAR ABBY: I have an issue I’d like your opinion on. What should the Tooth Fairy do with baby teeth after collecting them? She stopped coming to our house years ago, but the baby teeth have been dutifully saved — every one of them — in a jar where the Tooth Fairy left them.
I thought I was unique in this predicament, but found out that a sister-in-law had the same dilemma. Our kids are adults now, but I don’t know what I should or could do with these little keepsakes of a beautiful boy who stole my heart the minute I looked into his eyes.
–ALWAYS HIS MOM
Normally in these columns I never quote the “advice” of my arch nemesis, Dear Abby. As the old saying goes, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies unattributed.” But I’m going to make an exception this time and let you see her response verbatim so you can compare and contrast to see the brilliance of my own. Plus, I’m going to add in editorial comments in brackets throughout her answer to give my loyal readers [hi mom!] an opportunity to venture into my mind and see my thought process at work in written form. Think Fantastic Journey meets Being John Malkovich. Maybe with a dash of Tron.
DEAR MOM: Let’s see … You could have them mounted [heh] and display them on a charm bracelet [charm bracelets for men are the new black]. You could offer to sell them back to your son [act now and I’ll throw in your lost childhood innocence!]. Or, you could place them in an envelope and put them in a box [and then put that box inside a bigger box?!] with the curl from his first haircut and a pair of his baby shoes [and placenta too?]. One day I’m sure he’ll be touched [and bill you for the therapy].
Ok, glad I got that out of my system [that’s what she...]. Dammit! No more. I promise. [sic]
DEAR ALWAYS HIS MOM: Normally this is where I would offer my unique male perspective on your problem, or draw upon lessons learned from my own experience as a human baby once ransacked by the Tooth Fairy. But with this one I’m a bit out of my league. Or better yet, out of my Wheelhouse (product placement!). You see, I grew up with a different kind of Tooth Fairy. There was no cash-for-teeth deal. Instead, when I lost a tooth and put it under my pillow at night I would wake up in the morning to a pack of floss and whitening strips on my nightstand. Granted, I was raised by a roving pack of feral dental school drop-outs, but I’ll see what I can do to give you some real advice so your son isn’t walking around with a charm bracelet of his own teeth like a sociopath. Or posing as the chief of a rival dental tribe.
So what to do with the baby teeth of the son who “stole my heart the minute I laid eyes on him.” For starters, you can offer to swap his teeth for your heart straight up. But I imagine he’s since grown new ones so has little use for the old ones. Plus, have you seen what hearts are going for in the organ trafficking black market? If you have I’m calling child services on you. No wonder the Tooth Fairy stopped visiting. She was probably horrified you’d clock her over the head with a sack full of batteries and harvest her fairy organs for profit. For shame, pseudonymous reader, for shame.
But I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume the Tooth Fairy stopped visiting of her own volition. You’ve clearly done a good job of keeping mementos from your son’s babyhood past, so we have a lot to work with if you want to show how much he means to you. So let me ask you a question: do you live near a mall? Good. Pack up all your little mementos–the teeth, the hair, the shoes, possibly the nose you stole from him as a child (unless you’ve already sold it….)–and drive on over there. Now, does your local mall have a Build-a-Bear store? Of course it does! Every mall has a Build-a-Bear store! They’re like Starbucks, except they don’t let you use their restroom unless you build one of their damn bears.
Once inside a Build-a-Bear store, a representative is going to come up to you and start bombarding you with a bunch of bear-related questions. Stand on your toes, raise your arms, and make yourself as large as possible, and make a series of loud noises to scare the bear-pusher away. Now that you’ve done that it’s time to get to business! The store has their own supplies and instructions on how to build their precious bears, but if you’ve done the job correctly you’ll be left unattended with the store rep out fishing for salmon in the coin fountain. So instead of using the store-provided accessories, use the ones you brought to make a bear replica of your son! Glue on those baby teeth, put on those baby booties, and staple on that baby tail, and it’s like you’re staring back in time at your baby son! Your sweet, precious, baby son. Reincarnated as a bear.
One final step and you’re all done. Obviously you’ll want to hold onto your humanoid baby bear, but since you went through all that effort and spent so much money filling the coin fountain with freshwater salmon, you’ll probably want to show this off to your son. As I see it, you have two and only two options. One, you can take a picture of it, put the picture in an envelope with a letter composed of words cut out of magazines so you don’t ruin the surprise, and spell out something along the lines of “I’m watching you…. I’m always watching you….”
Or if you want to physically show him the bear invite him over for dinner. Tell him it’s a special occasion, like it’s his birthday or his father and you are getting divorced. Something like that. Then when he comes in yell “surprise!” Literally maul him with a huge bear hug (double pun bonus!), and show him to his old room that you’ve kept perfectly intact, except, of course, for the humanoid bear sitting atop his bed. Then ask him why he doesn’t call more and if he’s still dating that girl you think has horrible table manners.