$1.50 Worth of Commitment by the Caveat Queen
When I first met my "Dearest" (I am too old to have a "boyfriend," but when I refer to him as my "Man Friend" he thinks he sounds gay...and he is right, but if I say "Partner," people think I'm gay, so I just stick with Dearest) most of our relationship seemed pretty easy. He lived out of state, and so would just appear in town on business, and we would spend a few very happy days hanging out together. At first, he stayed with his mom, and would only come over to visit me, which was just fine. I wasn't looking for a relationship, and neither was he. What were we doing together, then? Well, for one thing, lying to ourselves and each other about the whole "not looking for a relationship," thing...
After several thousand frequent flyer miles, there came that weird and wonderful tipping point, where my Dearest started spending longer and longer hours with me, and fewer and fewer with mom, until...oops...he spent the night. Then, he spent a few in a row. This isn't going to be a tell-all about how his mom dealt with finding out that her sonny dearest wasn't a virgin at 38(or that I wasn't either). Actually, it's about something much harder for couples to talk about than sex: it's about...toothbrushes.
See, the first time that D. spent the night, he just toodled out in the morning, and took care of his dental hygiene needs back at mom's. But, trying to continue this routine day after day not only became inconvenient, but time consuming, since he was driving about 10 miles just to go brush, floss, rinse and then come hurrying back to spend the day with me. And no, I didn't offer him mine. There are some things that even after sharing certain intimacies are still too icky to consider. And one of those is having a man stick my toothbrush in his mouth after it has already been in mine. (Hey, we all have our hang-ups!)
This dilemma left me with only one horrifying alternative. I was going to have to get a toothbrush for D. It only seemed fair and practical, until I was actually at the Wal Mart, all alone (he was actually off working at the job that was supposedly bringing him to Idaho in the first place after all...huh!) and there I stood in the dental aisle. All of a sudden it felt like I was at Tiffany's, buying him a Man-gagement ring! After considering and discarding several options, and even leaving and coming back a few times, I finally made the commitment: for $1.50, I could get him a red Pepsodent toothbrush. It was decent, without being too fancy, and therefore indicating that I had more expectations than simple teeth cleaning. But, it wasn't the crappy 4-pack kind that would seem like I didn't care about tartar build-up and gum disease. Yep, this was it.
Now, I am not saying this for dramatic effect, although I wish I were so creative: I actually got an anxiety attack on the way to the cash register. I. Was. Making. A. Commitment. Oh. My. Gosh. I was sure that I had gone too far, and my Dearest would be offended and never come back, after seeing that he had his own toothbrush at my house. Eek! Somehow, I managed to get my sweaty palms around the brush, credit card, and swipey thing at the register, and walked, weak-kneed to the car with my hard-won prize.
That night, as we cuddled up together in bed, I took a breath to tell him what I had done. Then, I just sighed. Another breath, another sigh. After a few of these, he asked, "Ok, what's up, Sparky?" (His much better nickname for me...but hey, this is why he earned a toothbrush!) "Um," I stalled. "Geesh, I hope you're not mad. I, uh, I thought maybe you'd like to have...this." And from out of the nightstand I whipped the red toothbrush. "Wow!" he said...yep, an actual wow over a toothbrush. Extra points. "That's for me? Cool! I'm so glad I won't have to leave your nice warm body in the morning, just to get rid of my death breath!" He sounded...sincere. Not mad, weirded out, or upset, just...grateful. Then he got out of bed and walked away. Damn. Spoke too soon! Until I heard the water running in the bathroom, and from around the toothbrush in his mouth, I could just make out, "Hey, vith is awephum! Fanks!" He had given it a test run, and then came back to give me a thank-you kiss, with very fresh breath.
I know this is a totally corny story, but it was a big deal to me at the time. It was when I learned that My Dearest was even dearer than I thought. He was not only someone I was beginning to love, but could also...trust. And here's the gushiest part of all. I have, of course, purchased many more toothbrushes over the past 7 1/2 years that we have been together. And he's even gotten some for me. But you know what? He has kept that silly old red one, for "sentimental purposes." Apparently it's the first gift I ever gave him. Now I wish I'd gone for the Man-gagement ring, instead of dental hygiene, but oh well...this is a whole lot more practical. I mean, you can't keep pearly whites at their best with a Man-gagement ring.