True Life: I’m a Toddler in Tiara’s Flipper

True Life: I’m a Toddler in Tiara’s Flipper

So you want to learn what it’s like to have one of the hardest jobs in the industry, huh? Ok.

First, let’s back up. You might be wondering how I became a flipper. According to ancient flipper lore (dating back to the early ’90s), it’s said that one becomes a flipper when on a journey of many cosmic reincarnations, once they’ve reached a lower rung on the ascent to nirvana. In other words, you become a flipper because you haven’t proved you are morally worthy of becoming a tooth. Labor hard clinging to a 4-year-old’s gums, covered in Bonne Bell lip gloss, and you may just find reward in the next life.

How I envy teeth. They know where their homes are. Children lovingly pick out a flavor of toothpaste they want to bathe them in, and their daily life is a regular flood of Skittles, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and other youthful delights. Eventually they fall out only to be snatched up by a fairy. A fairy! There’s no flipper fairy, let me tell you that.

I spend most of my time in an ugly retainer box, nestled up next to a Las Vegas mom’s pack of mentholated Newports. Once every few weeks, I get dusted off and shoved into a child’s mouth, occasionally tasting a salty tear that makes its way down during a tantrum. She likes me more than colored contacts or mascara, but not quite as much as hair extensions. I feel so apart from her. I feel like I’m not a part of anything.

Sometimes I try to escape. During a jazzy little ditty about beign a cowgirl, maybe, I’ll start sliding free. I break my hold from the tooth and hope that I fly out during a particularly fast one-legged spin, or an accelerated drop into the splits. If it only worked – if I could enjoy a few moments airborne before falling to spend eternity stuck under some old bleachers. Instead, the little girl always closes her mouth, feigning a cute pucker, while she tongues me back into place, the only place a flipper belongs.

It’s hard to stay motivated, but I have hopes. Maybe I’ll get reincarnated as a fish instead of a tooth. A little boy who wins me at a fair will name me “Flipper,” and it’ll all seem so charmed as he buys me a plastic scuba man for my bowl. How happy I’ll be, swimming, swimming.

Becky Lang