A young friend of ours recently lost several of his baby teeth. And seeing his smiling gap-toothed mug set my mind to reminiscing about the natural process of losing teeth.
As a child, I was not terribly afraid to loose a tooth, but I was more than happy to hold on to them as long as I possibly could. The ability to rock a tooth back and forth with one's tongue for any willing audience was worth almost as much in attention as the money I was sure to gain in my piggy bank from the tooth fairy once the tenuous thread of skin holding the tooth in my head gave way. No need to rush the process, I usually let nature take its course.
But I also can recall a more grim image of what I consider less-natural tooth extraction, one that involved my grandmother, my sister, a door knob and a piece of string. It was a hot summer day. We were at my grandmother's old farm in Kentucky (the farm built by my grandfather, Chester Padgett). Sister had a loose tooth. Gran had some string, one end of which she tied to Vicki's tooth, the other end to the knob of an open door. Then, she slammed the door shut. What resulted from THAT tooth extraction was less like a Saturday-Morning-Cartoon-tooth-pulling (which, as a child, was what I was expecting), and more like a Ralph Eugene Meatyard tableaux (this would be a black and white photograph of two girls, one with mouth and eyes open in shock, hands on cheeks, looking in disbelief at her sister. The other with eyes wide, hands clapped tightly over her mouth, too late to save the tooth exiting her head, more likely keeping in a scream. Both stand in front of a door moments ago slammed shut. A door with a string hanging from its knob. Dark stain upon the floor.).