12/9/09

The Meaning of the Toothbrush

Fuck hearts. Fuck a box of chocolates and chubby, little cupids. Fuck the color red and it’s bastard offspring pink. Fuck a goddamn engagement ring or checkbooks with both you and your partner’s names on it. Fuck a tattoo of your partner’s name on your nalgas. Fuck meeting his parents and fuck the first phone call. The most important symbol in any relationship is the toothbrush. You know how santeros can read your past in cowery shells and fortunetellers can augur your future in tea leaves? I can divine the prospects of a relationship from a motherfucking toothbrush. Tengo un don bien fuerte.

There are two ways to address the toothbrush issue in a relationship. Each signify something vastly different The first is The Passive Aggressive Method (or the PA Method, as I will refer to it in the rest of this article). The second is The Let’s Talk About it Baby Method (the LTAB Method). There are subcategories within each method. So when someone has left their toothbrush in your apartment all you have to do is refer to this article to figure out what your future will be with that person.

The Passive Aggressive (PA) Method

It’s never advisable to be passive aggressive. When I act passive aggressively it is usually because I am insecure about what I am doing or I’m scared of the ramifications of what I am doing or because I’m scared of the person I am doing whatever I am doing to. Sometimes I’m passive aggressive because I just don’t want to deal with confrontation. The problem with being passive aggressive however, is that your message may be misunderstood because you’re not being openly communicative about it. For example, let’s say we live together and you always leave your dirty calzoncillos on the sofa and I fucking hate it. I decide to tackle the problem in a passive aggressive manner by picking up your calzoncillos and hanging them on your doorknob. You might take this to mean that I am helping you clean up after your filthy self. But really it means that if you leave your putrid panties on the sofa one more time, I might just punch you in the fucking chest.

Passive aggressiveness doesn’t allow for the effective communication of your feelings. You may think you’re settling the problem by stealthily avoiding it while dealing with it, but really you’re just letting it fester in your gut until it turns into a big, nasty deal when it didn’t have to in the first place. Way to go you passive aggressive dummy, you just made your problem a lot worse.

There are two subcategories within the PA Method: The Sneaky Tyrannical Oppressive Method, or the STO Method and the Oops My Bad Method, OMB Method. The STO method is the wackest one I have encountered in my life. By sneaking your toothbrush into my bathroom, you are by definition being oppressive and tyrannical. Let me share an example.

Once upon a time in a mystical and fucked up land called New York City, I lived unhappily ever after and sought comfort in random sex with random individuals. One of those random individuals began to turn into “someone special,” into someone I was “seeing.” Definitely not a boyfriend but someone who spent the night at my apartment at least twice a week. Definitely not a boyfriend but someone who I enjoyed having sex with, a lot. Someone who was acutely intelligent, exceedingly handsome, and fantastically charming. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that he was also a certified NUTJOB! Which was good at first because it made me realize that I wasn’t the only crazy person in this world but then I realized that he was on some manipulative/mind control crazy shit. And, to tell you the truth, I was a victim of a good dick. You know when sometimes you just get blindsided by a high quality penis and it’s hard to find your bearings again? Yeah, his dick knocked me on my ass.

Anyway, one day I was fiending for some gooooooood sex. It had been a like a week since me and this dude had fucked and, to top it off, I had had really bad sex with someone else just a couple days before (just a hint guys, if you have to tell me to “say your name” when we’re fucking, that means that not only have I already forgotten your name but even as you thrust yourself in and out of me, I am in the process of forgetting that this night ever happened). So one day I invite this guy over for pancakes, conversation, and sex. We’re talking, the pancakes smell like a dream, it’s summertime and the blueberries burst in my mouth with peppery sweetness, we listen to Led Zeppelin, we smoke delicious weed. Everything is just splendid. As I was flipping the final pancakes and he talked about something or the other, he began to open a package. It was a small package and it came in a pharmacy bag. It was a toothbrush. He walked to the bathroom, put toothpaste on his brush and brushed his teeth. I thought little of it. There were more important things to think about: should I make a peach compote for the pancakes? Should I have anal sex with this man today? Clearly he had forgotten to brush his teeth at home and bought a toothbrush so he could fix his problem here at my apartment, before we got into anything heavy and his bad breath would offend me.

I had forgotten all about it until after he left, after the pancakes were eaten, after I had descended from the lofty peak of orgasm, when I was no longer high out of my mind. I walked into the bathroom to wash my face and stopped in my tracks with a gasp. What the fuck is this doing here? Above my sink, in the toothbrush holder, on the left hand side, in the middle hole: a blue and white Reach toothbrush with an angled head to get at the stubborn pieces of food that always seem to stick where the bristles won’t go, still wet from when it was broken in just a couple of hours ago. I stood there looking at this uninvited piece of plastic in my bathroom with my hands on my hips and my head cocked to the side. Ain’t that some shit…You sneaky, passive aggressive motherfucker.

This is a prime example of the STO Method. The toothbrush in question found its way into my life without my fucking permission, i.e. SNEAKY. The toothbrush in question irrationally insisted on existing in my bathroom without regard to what I wanted, i.e. TYRANNICAL. The toothbrush in question invaded my bathroom and usurped a position in my toothbrush holder against my will, i.e. OPPRESSIVE. The STO toothbrush loudly states, “I’m here, bitch! Deal!” And because I didn’t give the STO toothbrush permission, its presence makes me angry and contumacious. If something is oppressing me, I must rebel against it. And if something is oppressing me passive aggressively, I guess I’ll just have to rebel against it passive aggressively. In this case, I passive aggressively used the toothbrush in question to clean the toilet bowl. He he he.

The Oops, My Bad (OMB) Method is not inherently fucked up like the STO Method. The OMB Method can be employed both sincerely and insincerely. In other words, you could have really just forgotten your toothbrush, maybe you left it in your gym bag which you really did forget at your partner’s house. Or you could say to your partner that you forgot your toothbrush but really you “forgot” your toothbrush and really you left it there on purpose. Either way, when your partner brings it up, you say “Oops, my bad” hoping that s/he will say back, “No worries. Just leave it here.” Or you could make it really look as if it were an accident and bring it up first by saying something like, “OMG. I left my toothbrush here. My bad. How wack of me.” Then, naturally, your partner will say, “oh whatevs, I didn’t even notice it. You should just leave it here anyway.” Even though the OMB Method is not so bad, it still passive aggressively forces your partner into a position that maybe s/he was not ready to be in. If I want your toothbrush in my toothbrush holder, I will find a way to get it there, on my own terms.

The Let’s Talk About it Baby (LTAB) Method

Simple. Straightforward. But not necessarily easy. The LTAB Method also has two subcategories: the Straight-Up (SU) Method and the I Have a Present For You (IHAPFY) Method. Recently the man that I am currently dating (not seriously, promise) helped me to develop the theory of the LTAB Method. Here is what happened.

I was walking out of the bathroom and into my bedroom to cuddle into sleephood with this man. Just as I am about to turn out the light, he asks me if I had brushed my teeth. I said that I hadn’t because I felt bad brushing my teeth when he couldn’t because he didn’t have a toothbrush here. It’s not fair that I get to enjoy the refreshing feeling of just-cleaned teeth while all the food that he ate during the day rots in the noisome cesspool that our mouths turn into as we sleep. He responded by saying that he could use my toothbrush. I said, of course. Of course he could do that. Of course. I slid into bed and pushed my booty into his crotch to slip into dreaminess in a perfect spoon. But I must admit (don’t tell him this, okay?) I didn’t sleep well that night. I kept waking up to listen to him breath, to watch his mouth tick as he undoubtedly dreamed about laughing, or eating, or smiling really hard. What are you trying to pull?

He had brought up a topic that means something. But before I get into what the toothbrush actually means, let me describe both subcategories of the LTAB Method. What this man that I am seeing did was a combination of the two subcategories; it is undoubtedly the SU Method and it has led me to try out the IHAPFY method.

This man brought up the topic in a straightforward and confident manner. He needs to brush his teeth and has spent enough time at my place to ask about the toothbrush situation. The SU Method, especially the way in which it was employed by this man, is highly admirable because when you use it, you totally put yourself out on a limb. Anyone who uses the SU method is a keeper. If you don’t like the person then you have to at least give him/her props for bringing up a tough topic. To many people, sharing a toothbrush is absolutely gross, even with a consistent sexual partner. Which is weird…we can have each other’s genitals in our mouths but not our toothbrushes? So to ask me to borrow my toothbrush is brave because he risked committing a serious social faux pas. I could have been one of those people that takes the toothbrush sharing thing very seriously.

But whether you ask to borrow your partner’s toothbrush or you ask if you can have a spot in their toothbrush holder, by using the SU Method you are actively starting a conversation about the status of your relationship, which is dope because those are not easy to have. Because if you want to avoid the toothbrush conversation while still making sure you have fresh breath, you would just make sure to always have a toothbrush in the glove compartment of your car or in your purse and you would take it out right before you’re about to go to your partner’s house. That way you can fuck and also make sure you have a kissable mouth without having to worry about things getting confusing.

The second subcategory of the LTAB method is the I Have A Present For You (IHAPFY) method. Someone who employs the IHAPFY method has observed that her partner has brought a toothbrush over once or twice but mostly forgets it or that her partner has asked to borrow a toothbrush on a couple of occasions. And then one day as they are both in the bathroom stepping out of the shower she offhandedly says, “oh hey papi I have a present for you” and presents him with the toothbrush. The partner will then smile and say, “thanks” and then they will happily brush their teeth together, having avoided any awkward conversations about relationships, sharing toothbrushes, or which hole in the toothbrush holder will be given to the partner.

This second subcategory is sweet, kind, and thoughtful. It lets your partner know that you are thinking about them, that their oral hygiene is important to you, not just because you kiss that mouth but because you want them to be healthy. It also communicates that you want your partner to be comfortable when s/he is at your house. It is a small token that says, “I recognize that you spend a significant amount of time here and I want that to continue.” Yet, as I am writing this I also wonder if it is a little passive aggressive. What if your partner doesn’t want your gift? I don’t think it’s a big deal though. If you can’t appreciate the fact that I am trying to make your life easier, then you should fuck off anyway.

The Meaning of the Toothbrush

The toothbrush is definitely a step in a relationship. Whether it mysteriously and passive-aggressively finds its way onto your sink or whether it is openly discussed, it means something. It obviously represents the following:
  1. That your partner cares about oral hygiene, which is a good thing.
  2. That your partner is now thinking practically about the fact that s/he spends a significant amount of time at your place to warrant having a toothbrush there.
But this is what it intimates:
  1. That your partner imagines him/herself spending more time at your place in the future.
  2. That your partner likes hanging out at your place and, by extension, that s/he likes you.
The crazy thing is that it has any meaning at all. When the man I am (not seriously) dating asked me if he could use my toothbrush, why was I taken by surprise? We have swapped spit, hung out naked more often than with clothes on, had long conversations about bowel movements and farts, and have the most divine oral sex —frequently, ay qué rico. Why is it so weird to ask me to use my toothbrush? Perhaps because it connotes a level of intimacy that I didn’t know we were approaching. It seems as if every time we see each other, we talk about how this is not “a serious relationship.” But hey motherfucker, I think it’s pretty serious that you want to use my toothbrush to clean away your plaque. My pussy in your mouth is one thing, clearly not a serious thing, but my toothbrush in your mouth is completely different. Because if the toothbrush conversation insinuates that your partner wants to spend more time at your place because, by extension, s/he wants to spend more time with you, then doesn’t that mean that things might be turning a little serious? Holy shit...

So the plan is to try the IHAPFY method on this man I am (not seriously) dating. The next time I see him I’ll casually present him with a brand new toothbrush. I’ll say nothing else. Although it may mean that I know he enjoys spending time with me and will continue to spend time with me in the future (a prospect that both of us may or may not find really cool), I only really want it to mean that I care about his teeth. And his teeth are pretty fucking awesome.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

haha true

Anonymous said...

Lol! Very well written and crazy article! I love it!

Well I just started seeing this guy and he's been spending time at my place. So . I employed the IHAPFY method and bought him a toothbrush.

He used it but here's the science

1. He left it in the pack afterwards but
2. He left it here ... at my place

Your interpretation?

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