So, how does one create an epic?
By negotiating with the Tooth Fairy, of course.
I must have been seven years old when Frodo dropped me. He was a fat molar living in the back of my mouth and came loose one day when I harshly contended with a roasted pistachio.
Crack! Frodo wobbled.
"Mom, I've got a loose tooth."
A string and a slammed door later, and Frodo lay in the palm of my hand.
"Wash your tooth and put it under your pillow, the tooth fairy will collect it tonight, and tomorrow you'll get a shining quarter."
I named my falling teeth the way the weather man names tornadoes: in alphabetical order. But since teeth are masculine in Arabic, I used male names exclusively: Ahiram, Batman, Colonel (I thought Colonel was a first name...) and so forth. Since the last tooth was Excalibur (I thought he was a guy, too), the new one was Frodo.
So, I tucked Frodo under my pillow, lay comfortably on my back, said my night prayers, and reviewed the negotiation strategy I wished to employ with the Tooth Fairy.
I got a quarter for Ahiram, but that was okay because he was a maxillar incisor. But Frodo was a molar. I figured I should get at least three quarters for a molar. I pictured the Tooth Fairy as a big, fat molar with wings, with a protruding white nose and two bulging eyes. She held a toothbrush in one hand and toothpaste in the other. She carried a big, fat purse on her back and a large, velvet pouch around her waist where she collected all the teeth. She wore a pair of thick glasses (don't ask me why, but she just did) and had curly, brown hair. All in all, a kindly step-sister of Santa Claus.
"Miss Tooth Fairy," I said, "Frodo is worth three quarters. He's been lightly used with no scratches or dents."
"Sorry, Kiddo, fixed price only. Non-negotiable," said the Tooth Fairy with a strident voice. "Hand him over and grab your quarter. I've got me a long night ahead."
"Everything is negotiable, Miss Fairy," I said shrewdly. "That's what Hoss told the bad guy on Bonanza."
"Kid," said Hoss materializing next to my bed, "I hope the Tooth Fairy gives you a good drubbing for using my name to lie so shrewdly. I said no such thing to the bad guy."
Fortunately, the Tooth Fairy did not watch Bonanza.
"Who do you think you are, kid? A Phoenician seafarer negotiating the price of tin with a Greek colony?"
"A Phoenician seafarer..." Now that's a dream worth pursuing, an adventure to step into; an epic waiting to be written.
I was seven years old when the Epic of Ahiram slid into my dreams and waited until that fateful day when the school bus would drop us on the shore of Byblos.
When I woke up the following morning, Frodo was gone, replaced by four spankin' new quarters.
"A Phoenician seafarer..." I thought hopping out of bed. "Definitely."