My little sister gets her conversational ideas from the Sedaris family.
This might concern anyone who has heard, read, or seen anything by David or Amy Sedaris. (Not counting the personal thank you note Soteria has framed by her door; the family photos are relegated to refrigerator magnets.) This would concern me, if a.) we weren’t half Greek and b.) our family wasn’t just as off the wall. Most days, I get to be David and Soteria gets to be Amy. I’ll write the essay book that gets turned into a play, and Soteria will pen the how-to-bead book that assumes everyone is an idiot. She’ll get her own television show, and I’ll travel the globe making millions of people chuckle. World Domination 101. Opa.
I didn’t fall in love with Strangers With Candy as much as Soteria did, but we do share the same favorite essay of David’s: “Six to Eight Black Men.” If you haven’t heard it, go find the album and go get it. (I’ll wait.) Make sure you’re not drinking anything, or operating heavy machinery. If you’ve already heard it, you’ll understand why one of Soteria’s first conversations with our Brazilian friend Marcello was about his holidays and customs.
Comparing and contrasting with US customs, there weren’t a whole lot of differences. They have Christmas and Easter and fun stuff like that. And then Soteria asked about the tooth fairy and she lost Marcello completely.
In Brazil, there is no tooth fairy. They have a little tooth mouse. (Latin America calls him Ratoncito Perez. No relation to Rosie.) What does a mouse want with human teeth? (Come to that, what does a fairy need with them? I’ve just assumed they need the calcium for strong wing growth.)
When a young child loses his tooth in Brazil, he leaves it in the bathroom for the tooth mouse. That made more sense to Marcello, who pointed out that, no matter what hemisphere you’re in, you typically brush your teeth in the bathroom. In return for his tooth, the child receives one Real (pronounced “ray-al”) or several Reals (pronounced “hay-ice”, because everybody likes an opportunity to make fun of foreigners). And the cute little tooth mouse adds another body part to his treasure pile.
I’m totally on board with this “leaving it in the bathroom” idea. I bet my father wishes he had known about the Brazilian tradition the time he got caught with his hand under Soteria’s pillow. Of course, to my father’s credit, he came up with the best response ever.
“I’m sorry,” he said to my sister. “You caught me. I was trying to steal your money.”