Sunday, March 29, 2009


There's a chance when I hit the little "publish" button after writing this, I will feel like I'm betraying Glen. But I must. I've kept this gooey secret for far too long, and I need to vent.

I am not a neat freak.

But some things are just not done.

When one shares a bathroom, one should follow the manufacturer's instructions and squeeze the tube of toothpaste from the bottom; one should return the cap when completed. I prefer these things to happen in my bathroom, though I am not too upset when they don't happen. But I can't fool you: while I may squeeze from the bottom and roll the tube up as I go, Glen does not; if this were Glen's only faux pas in the bathroom, I would not be writing this today.

In addition to the usual, enduring differences in philosophy regarding the tube of toothpaste, Glen and I also part ways regarding a very basic standard of cleanliness in and around the bathroom sink. I had a dentist while I was growing up who promoted the "less is more" concept regarding toothpaste, and encouraged me to use small amount, since it doesn't take much for it to foam up; plus, he said, clean teeth come about due to the brushing itself, and not so much because of the lather. Glen clearly came from the "more is more" school of thought, and squeezes that tube like it's a zit, in need of popping. The result is a bluish, gooey mess, all over the sink.

Once the tube has been relieved of its contents, the walls, mirrors, curtains, windows, wall tschotschkes, light switch, and the already beleaguered sink and tube of toothpaste, then receive the foamy brine which must spray out of Glen's mouth. I had not witnessed that act for many years, but know that must be what happens. There is no other explanation.

Again, if this is all I faced each morning as I performed my morning routine, I would not be writing.

Every morning, I find an illogical stew of sputum and toothpaste, seasoned with hair, of all varieties, colors, and lengths, in addition to the foam all over everything, and the bleeding tube of toothpaste left to die, on the side. Personally, I would be embarrassed if I created this mess; and if, in the unlikely scenario, I were to create that mess, I would clean it, before anyone could see it. Again, this is where Glen and I part ways on attitudes. I will admit that I am not a neat girl, though my messes usually involve paper, and clean clothing, so I really do hate to expose this side of my relationship with Glen, since I am far from perfect. But, a line was crossed when Glen came home with one those electric toothbrushes a few months ago.

Ivan Pavlov, the dude behind classical conditioning, showed us how his dogs began to drool when they heard a metronome, which was used to signal mealtime. The big deal about this is that the metronome was not food; they weren't drooling at the sight of food. They drooled because of the sound they associated with feeding. In my troubling tale about toothpaste, I have become conditioned to fly into an insane rage at the sound of the electric toothbrush, the sound I associate with the crimes in the bathroom. By the time I actually see the mess, I am depressed, and I head to the downstairs bathroom to clean my teeth, where I squeeze the tube from the bottom, replace the cap after use, and, in the unlikely event my spit misses the mark, or contains extra chunks of unprocessed toothpaste, I rinse it up.

We have an old-fashioned basin sink in the bathroom, without a flat surface, so Glen set up his electric brush on the back of the toilet, and within a few days, a disturbing pool of gelatinous goo pooled below it — flecked with hair, of course — and the entire device was coated in a foamy crust. The mess grew, and spread all over the back of the toilet. I had been doing my best to use the downstairs bathroom, but since it doesn't have a shower, I need to use the toothpaste-covered bathroom some of the time, and every time I see the toothbrush with its blinky blue light, and white crust, and toothpaste goo all over, I sigh in defeat.

I went to Maryland in January to visit my dad; he has a similar electric toothbrush to Glen's, except Dad's is clean, and not sitting in a pile of blue goo.

So when I got home, I examined Glen's electric toothbrush, because I thought perhaps he must need to fill the handle with toothpaste; I imagined Glen's must secrete toothpaste as needed. But upon inspection, I saw this was not the case. The blue pool and white crusts were spreading out. I grabbed one of Matthew's empty baby wipe tubs, and before I could stop myself, grabbed my fancy sewing scissors, and cut a quarter-sized hole in the side. I cleaned up the back of the toilet — dried on toothpaste is harder to clean that you'd think, yo — and placed Glen's disgusting electric toothbrush in the baby wipe container, and ran the cord through my hacked hole. Mess contained. For the most part.

The Electric Toothbrush. Contained. It's not as messy as it has been, since it's only very recently it set up residency in that container.

A few days went by, and I noticed brand new foamy splatters all over my mermaid mirror, and her little merman friend, as well as the frame of the fish painting that my mother painted. It's a small bathroom, and I could see that the occasional bit of toothpaste might hit the mer-people, but the fish painting is above head level. It should be out of reach of stray toothpaste.

I decided to spy on Glen as he performed his toothbrushing crimes before bed one night, and it was so fucking savage, I had to rethink my whole life, all of my decisions that led me to that moment in time. There are some differences in brushing techniques, to be sure. I was taught to start with the front teeth, and then close my lips a bit as I brush the back teeth; the foam begins to accumulate, at which time, it is okay to politely spit a bit of the foam into or near the drain of the sink. Glen, on the other hand, keeps his mouth open wide the whole time, allowing foam to spill out of his Canadian pie-hole, all over his chin, and down his arms. The stuff that happens to land in the sink has a two-foot fall, and spatters everywhere, including my mother's painting which is more than three feet up the wall. Glen then rinses his arms and face, and leaves the rest, including a bleeding tube of toothpaste to the side, perhaps for God to sort out.

After I watched this, I launched myself at him, out of my mind that a 46-year-old man would not know better. He laughed, because he thinks my anger is funny. Which is why I must resort to this. He told me with a big smile on his freshly brushed face, that that's how he's always brushed his teeth, and he wasn't about to change. I asked him to reconsider, because now we have a child: he cannot teach our boy anything in the bathroom, if he fails so miserably at dental hygiene. "Oh well," he said, still laughing. "There's nothing wrong with how I brush my teeth," he said.

The next day, I cleaned the sink and moved the toothpaste to the baby wipe box on top of the toilet, figuring things would improve. But when I got up to brush my teeth the next morning, I found this:

We're all human, I guess. And as horrifying as this particular shortcoming is, it's Glen's worst. So I suppose I'm pretty lucky.


G Spot said...

Babe I have more shortcomings. I'm just holding back. Love You!

DTV Deputy CleƤn said...

1. You fooled me with the title. I thought this was going to be another heartwarming piece about the knuckleheads in your 'hood.

2. Had I read this three hours ago, I would have been left with no choice but to skip dinner. As it stands now, I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

3. I hope Ms. Clean reads this, and realizes that she doesn't have it so bad, after all.

William said...

A solution--- brush your teeth while taking a shower!

That's what we do and our bathroom is much cleaner.