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Die Fairy Die!
By Howard J. Morris,
Coauthor of Women Are Crazy, Men Are Stupid: The Simple Truth to a Complicated Relationship

The tooth fairy officially died at my house on a Friday night.

The death was called at eight thirty-three pacific standard time on June 12, 2009. The death was accidental. She wasn't caught in a slammed door or stepped on or anything quite that dramatic or squishy. It was a slip of the tongue that did her in.

And of course the tongue that slipped was mine.

It should be noted that her death was not greeted with tears and the anguished cries of innocence lost. No, it was actually welcomed by my son, Dustin, with a certain callousness, and frankly, more than a touch of glee. It was kind of like he was waiting to kill her off. So it goes with a nine-year-old boy. After discovering the corpse and unraveling the big mystery, he then declared his investigative skills on par with those of the great Encyclopedia Brown.

It coincided with another fine "graduation" day for him. He matriculated out of the third grade apparently headed for the fourth. It's called "Moving Up Day" at his school and the tradition is that every year something positive and wonderful and written by their peers is read about every single student.

Every single student.

Even the not-so-wonderful ones.

Usually, it's four hundred degrees during the two and a half hour ceremony. Luckily, it was gray and overcast and quite temperate for this year's mind numbing boredom fest.

To celebrate his completion of another school year, Jenny Lee, my live in girlfriend for the last three years, and I, always get Dustin a present. This year Jenny picked out two games for his Wii. He seemed thrilled with the one he was playing on Moving Up Day night, which seemed like the high tech video equivalent of throwing a baseball at a bunch of blocks and knocking them down, when I told him it was time for bed. He then asked me if I had picked out this "really fun" game for him. I admitted, "No, Jenny did." He asked, "So you picked out the other one?" To which I again admitted, "Actually, Jenny picked out both games." To which he snarkily replied, "You never pick me out anything." Now irritated, I said, "That's not true! I picked you out the Bolt game and that skiing one you love!"

There was a pause. Then he said it.

"Dad, the tooth fairy got me those games!"

Uh oh.

My response was immediate and articulate.

"Uhhhhh . . . I think . . .  I, I . . .  whaaaa . . . "

Then, to my surprise, Dustin burst into gales of laughter.

"I knew there was no tooth fairy! I knew it! I have mad skills! Mad skills! Oh, I so got you, Dad."

He so got me alright. I was expecting, if not a classic father/son coming of age bonding moment, than at least a little wistfulness on his part. But he was taking this as some kind of nine-year-old intellectual triumph and was essentially mocking me with his newfound knowledge.

"There's no Santa either, right?" he asked, more as a statement than a question.

So I decided to meet frank with frank: "You're a Jew. There was never any Santa for you." He then giggled some more and called his mother at her house and gleefully told her there was no tooth fairy or Santa. And of course my ex-wife was the one who got me into this mess in the first place. We share custody but he'd lost his first few teeth at her house, so the first time he lost one at mine I was at a complete loss. I didn't know tooth fairy protocol. She set the precedent and it turned out she set the bar really high. When subtly grilled for information as to the tooth fairy's previous behavior, Dustin informed me that he always got "a very special present" from her, accompanied by an even more special "poem about him".

Wow, I thought, not without some annoyance, the tooth fairy has really upped her game since she used to slip me a dollar under my pillow. Luckily, Jenny totally saved me that night with a present she had in waiting for just such a circumstance, and more importantly, she wrote him a great poem. This whole scene was then repeated several months later, with yet another lost tooth, another great poem by Jenny, and this time, me scouring Blockbuster late on a Sunday night on a quest for that "special present". (The kid only seems to lose teeth at the most inconvenient time for a busy fairy.) It was that night that I procured the Wii Bolt game, and the skiing one that would later come back to haunt me.

And now, after all this crazy effort to preserve his beautiful innocence, he was basically telling me he knew all along. As he continued crowing about his "mad detective skills", he served up all the evidence he'd been secretly gathering for the case he'd been building for months. It turns out Jenny's first foray into fairy poetry was pretty convincing to him at the time. He was only "five or something" he reminded me. (He was seven, actually, but I didn't mention it.) It was only after some serious handwriting analysis, he told me, that "I could tell the handwriting was different in the poems at your house and the poems at Mommy's house."

"Who do you think wrote the poem here?"

"Jenny. And she wrapped the present, too."

"Right about both."

He then declared, "The poem here was too much about me."

I protested, "That first night you lost a tooth here, you told me that the 'tooth fairy' always writes a poem about you! That's why Jenny wrote the poem about you!"

"Not that much about me," he said. "Besides," he continued, "How could the tooth fairy know all those specific things about me, Dad?"

"BECAUSE THERE IS NO TOOTH FAIRY, DUSTIN!"

Once again, he falls down laughing.

I then suggest that he not go telling every kid on the block about his new discovery.

He seemed to understand. "Yeah, 'cause like when you're young you want to believe in the tooth fairy. Like Sebastian," he said, referring to his younger cousin.

"Exactly," I said.

Then more fits of uncontrollable laughter. Not the giggles of youth, mind you, but the guffaws of those who are in the know in a world of those who aren't. This was not just a newly minted fourth grader. This was a seasoned man of the world.

"If you suspected that the tooth fairy and Santa weren't real, how come you never brought it up before?" I asked.

"The presents kept coming," he said simply and shrugged.

And suddenly, I thought about all of those people ripped off by Madoff and the others like him, who never questioned out loud what they secretly believed to be true, because every time they opened up their monthly statements, "the presents kept coming."

Innocence is a funny thing. It turns to its opposite in the blink of an eye.

As we headed upstairs on the night that he finally debunked the tooth fairy myth once and for all, the young detective with the mad investigative skills furrowed his brow.

"I still don't get one thing," he said.

"Fire away."

Clearly troubled by this last remaining mystery he asked, "How did you get ever the note and the present under my pillow?"

I look at him askance.

"THIS IS YOUR ONE QUESTION?! Dude, you were asleep! I just slipped it under your pillow!"

"Ah", he said and nodded, satisfied that the last remaining piece of the puzzle was now firmly in place.

Then I put the detective with the mad skills to bed -- secretly relieved there were still some mysteries yet to be discovered.

©2009 Howard J. Morris, coauthor of Women Are Crazy, Men Are Stupid: The Simple Truth to a Complicated Relationship

Author Bio
Howard J. Morris, coauthor of Women Are Crazy, Men Are Stupid: The Simple Truth to a Complicated Relationship, began his career in television, writing for the revolutionary HBO series Dream On, and then on the Emmy-nominated Home Improvement. He created the series Holding the Baby and In Case of Emergency. He's also written on My Wife and Kids, According to Jim, and most recently, The Starter Wife.

Please visit www.SimonAndSchuster.com.