curiosities

At our house, the tooth fairy stores her teeth in my top dresser drawer. There she has two ziploc bags, one labelled S and one labelled T. I don’t mind sharing my underwear drawer with her; she’s quiet, polite and takes up very little space. Every now and then she stops by for a visit and the only way I can tell is that there appears to be a new tooth in a bag. And slowly, over the years, her collections have grown. I don’t usually pay much attention. In fact, usually I forget about her altogether.

Until yesterday. When I almost stepped on a lumpy bag, the contents of which would likely have been more painful to my tender instep than the Lego it’s usually subjected to.

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And there I was again, thinking of that blasted tongue and toe combo in the Haags Historisch Museum. And of Montcalm’s skull, long on display in the Ursuline Museum in Quebec City ( and immortalized in a story by Stuart MacLean).

But this time it’s the tooth fairy’s carefully-curated collection. I’ve never really thought about it before. It’s always seemed relatively innocuous. How odd is it to keep an almost complete set of teeth? They’ve been washed. They’ve grown in a body related to my own. And it’s not like I’ve put them on display… (Well, until today…).

But why haven’t I displayed them? Why aren’t they in a purpose-built glass case like the tongue and toe? Why aren’t they available for public consumption like Montcalm’s skull? More importantly, why is my personal response to this tooth collection so very different from my response to the Dutch tongue and the Frenchman’s skull? Where is my morbid fascination? Why am I so very blasé about this particular cabinet of curiosities?

I don’t have any answers, but it’s worth thinking through a bit further. Which body bits do we keep? And why?

(In case you’re wondering why there’s only ‘almost’ a complete set, here’s why:

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