The Tooth Fairy by Barbara Nadel

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I don’t generally hold with cosmetic surgery. Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis will know that. Those of you who scream in terror every time you see some, often beloved, famous TV or film star of yesteryear, after bad plastic surgery will agree with me. Far too often, it ain’t pretty.

But we all have our Achilles Heel and mine is cosmetic dentistry. By that I don’t mean having my teeth whitened so that they glow in the dark or even having front teeth faced with pretty, bright white veneers. Quite honestly as long as my teeth are neither brown nor black, I really couldn’t give a damn. What I do care about however, is actually having teeth in my head. Tooth extraction makes your jawbone sag and can cause your face to look sunken and gaunt. It’s not a good look and it certainly isn’t one that I want to encourage in myself. And so, when I had to lose three back teeth, all on the top right hand side of my mouth, I knew I’d have to do something.

Nice people with only good intentions suggested a partial denture. Because teeth are my Achilles Heel, I suggested that they might like to consider decapitation as a viable solution to their self-esteem issues. I’m not very nice when it comes to my teeth. And, although far from vain about any other aspect of my appearance – who CAN be vain about having one eye higher than the other a la Liza Minelli – teeth are and remain the exception. Therefore in an act of utter, supreme selfishness, I opted to have a dental implant. These are ‘false teeth’ that actually screw into your jaw, which they support, and which are favoured by people like Ozzie Osborne, Keith Richard, Martin Amis and other luminaries too rich and famous to mention. Mid-list crime writers don’t usually have them, not unless they sell their jewellery or offer their souls to the devil. But guess what…

So last Wednesday I took 10 milligrams of the tranquilliser, Diazepam, got into the dentists chair, had numerous local anaesthetic injections administered into my mouth and had a big hole drilled into my jawbone. I then had the implant hammered into my head – luckily the Diazepam caused me not to care too much – and then I went home clutching one bottle of antibiotics and one bottle of painkillers. It’s still sore and bruised but the swelling has gone down and, although the one false tooth that I can afford to have implanted is not yet in place, the groundwork has been done. My dentist, who is a total gentle genius, is pleased and so far, the prognosis looks good.

So, an act of total unnecessary selfishness or a psychological necessity for a middle aged woman who feels a bit like an old, splintered, bind-weed encrusted shed? In a sense I’m only just hauling the old guttering back into place for a bit. But then I have spent a lot of money on myself and so, knowing my character as I do, I realise that penance will have to be done for this. Whether that will be living on a diet of bran based cereals (yikes!) for the next month or saving cash by acting dead for six weeks (laying on your bed just breathing is very cheap) I don’t know. But something will have to be done.

That said, the people I admire the most, just don’t care. Seventy eight year old actor Peter O’Toole was quoted as saying this week: ‘I can’t stand light. My idea of heaven is moving from one smoke-filled room to another. The only exercise I take is walking behind the coffins of friends who took exercise.’ Ah, Peter! Once one of the most handsome men in the world. He just threw it all away and is now an absolute legend because of it. But then he is a man which is, maybe, the nub of the issue. Would I, and others, applaud Peter if he was a woman? The sad fact is that we probably wouldn’t. We’d probably call him a sad old bag who has let herself go.

It looks like it’s on with the most expensive shed-repair in the world for me. So get the bran cereal out, mother, and I’ll take to me bed for a bit!

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