compromise

I’ll Share My Life But Not My Toothbrush

Toothbrushes in the trash. Try not to judge me by the Red Vine box and the gummy bear bag in there as well.

Toothbrushes in the trash…where my potty mouth belongs.

So this past weekend we headed out for a few days in the mountains. As we were packing up, I noticed Steve hadn’t yet packed his toothbrush. Wishing to avoid a weekend with him without proper oral hygiene, I reminded him to grab it. He went into the bathroom to get it.

“It’s not here,” he said, referencing the toothbrush holder on our bathroom counter.

“Yes it is. I left a couple of toothbrushes in the holder when I grabbed mine,” I answered.

There were two toothbrushes in the holder that I hadn’t been using, so I knew he had forgotten his.

“Look. I already packed mine,” I told him. I showed him the toothbrush in my bag.

“That’s my toothbrush,” he replied.

“No. It’s mine. It’s the one I’ve been using.”

“Then you’ve been using my toothbrush.”

“Really?” I balked. “Are you sure? I’m pretty sure this one is mine. I used it this morning.”

“Yes,” he said, inspecting it more closely. “That’s mine. You’ve been using my toothbrush.”

“How do you know? They all look alike.”

We buy our toothbrushes in bulk from Costco. The Oral B package of soft-bristle brushes contains eight, spanking-new brushes in four, color combinations. We’re both fairly consistent about changing our brushes out every couple of months because, well, we buy them in bulk at Costco so why not? Because of the multiple color combinations, though, it can be easy to forget which toothbrush is your current one. I mean, by the time you’ve gotten used to your brush and have memorized which one it is, you’ve chosen a new one and have to remember it. We’re getting old. It’s hard to keep track of things, you know?

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I was sure that one was mine. It’s not a big deal, though. Here you go.”

I handed him the toothbrush so he could pack it. I turned around and went into the bedroom to pack some other things. When I walked back into the bathroom, I noticed the toothbrush in question was now in the trashcan along with the other two toothbrushes that had been in the holder.

“You threw them all out?” I asked incredulously. “Really?”

“Since we don’t know whose is whose, we’ll just start over. I’ll buy a new one when we get there,” he replied, as if this were the most logical solution.

What the heck? Suddenly I was feeling downright dirty. I began wondering if the Board of Health might need to shut me down as a contamination risk.

“Am I diseased or something? Is that why you can’t keep any toothbrush that might have been in my mouth?”

“It’s just gross,” he said. “I’m pretty sure other people would agree with me.”

“The toothbrush was in my mouth…the same mouth you kiss. You know that, right? We share food off the same fork sometimes. How is this any different?”

“It just is.”

“Apparently my foul mouth really does bother you,” I retorted before heading back to my packing chore.

I’m not going to lie. I was disappointed and shocked that my own husband had such virulent concerns about my hygiene. Don’t get me wrong. I understand where he’s coming from. It’s not very sanitary to share a toothbrush. That’s a fact. And I wouldn’t normally want his mouth on my toothbrush either, but I wouldn’t freak out about it if tables were turned. As a rule, I don’t like to share, especially when it comes to germs. It was just the immediate and swift manner with which he dispensed with all the compromised toothbrushes that irked me, as if he were taking no chances. Was he concerned I could have Ebola? Honestly, I wouldn’t have been thrilled to discover Steve had been using my toothbrush, but I wouldn’t have thrown it out. I would have shrugged my shoulders, given him a hard time about it (probably forever), and then eventually switched it out for a new one when I had destroyed all the bristles on it by brushing too hard. (Yes. I know this is not a good practice for my teeth and gums. I’m working on myself one flaw at a time, and this particular flaw is reasonably far down on my list of concerns.) Whatever germs don’t kill you make you stronger. At least that has always been my theory and, forty-six years into this theory, I’m still here so it appears to be working.

The man's personal toothbrush kingdom.

The man’s personal toothbrush kingdom.

Let it not be said, however, that I am insensitive to my husband’s needs. After twenty years, I may not have understood his relative level of paranoid germaphobia until now, but I do know how to solve a marital problem. You find the issue that’s been rubbing you the wrong way and you find a way around it. It doesn’t even really require compromise. You simply apply a bit of creative thinking and find the win-win. So, today I dug into my resourceful brain and found a solution to our dilemma. I bought him a special treat…his own toothbrush holder to keep on his side of the double vanity. Henceforth, his toothbrush has its own kingdom and it need never be near mine. Ever again. Problem solved. Now he just has to hope I don’t hold this germaphobe thing against him. It could be a long next twenty years for him if I’m stubbornly refusing to put my mouth anywhere near him because of this slight. Not that I hold a grudge or anything. Well, if you’ll excuse me…there is a piece of cake in the fridge I’ve been saving for later. I need to go lick it to guarantee it’s mine. 😉

Window Seat Wars

On the rare occasion that my husband and I are able to jet off somewhere alone, we’re are generally quite amicable and cooperative travel companions. We share suitcases equitably, although he usually gets a bit more bag space because his “clothes are bigger.” We jockey phone chargers and reading material like seasoned pros. He drives. I navigate. We get an Almond Joy to snack on so we each get a fair and measurable half. He tries to tolerate it as I coach him to the best parking spot or security line (because I am highly insightful). I try to tolerate it when he tells me he needs to stop for a second or third latte (because he is highly caffeine dependent). As a rule, things are smooth and seamless.

It’s all quite pleasant…except for one issue. The window seat. There is only one. We both want it. Love? Honor? Cherish? Absolutely. Window seat? I think not.

Savvy girl I am, I am chief travel agent in our family. I book all our travel. I print itineraries. I check us in online. I keep the scannable boarding passes on my phone. He’s at my mercy.

“What are our seat assignments?” Steve asked as we boarded the plane to Boston today.

“22E and 22F,” I informed him.

“Window and center,” he said, appraising the situation.

“Yep,”I replied.

“I’ll be taking the window,” he reported.

“Oh no you won’t,” I enlightened him. “I am 22F. Window seat is mine.”

“We’ll see about that,” he retorted as he sped up to jump ahead of me boarding the aircraft.

I tried to elbow him out but he slipped by me and was the first one in the narrow aisle. I stayed doggedly on his heels, bantering with him on the way.

“You’d better not even think about it,” I warned.

“It’s done,” he said. “You’re too late. Accept it.”

“Never,” I replied, still plotting a hip check that would get him out of my way.

But, alas, it was not to be. The rows in front of ours were occupied so I couldn’t check him. It wouldn’t be right to hurt a fellow passenger in our private war. He slipped into row 22 and plopped himself into my window seat.

“Get out of my seat,” I said under my breath through my smiling, clenched teeth.

“No,” he said defiantly.

I’d had enough. I hit the flight attendant call button.

“What are you doing?” he snapped.

“Get out of my seat and there doesn’t have to be a scene,” I told him.

“Possession is 9/10ths,” he said trying to call my bluff.

The flight attendant approached. I flashed her my sweetest smile.

“I think this gentleman is in my seat,” I said, showing her my boarding pass with 22F clearly displayed.

“Oh…is this your seat?” Steve said innocently. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and looked at it. “Oh…you’re right. I’m 22E on this flight and 22F on the next one,” he lied. He them stood up, shifted his things, and moved out into the aisle. The flight attendant, happy to have avoided conflict, gave us a curt smile and left. I walked past hubby to claim my rightful seat. He followed me in and took the center seat.

“Ha,” I gloated. Triumph!

I lifted the shade on the window and prepared for a peaceful flight. You don’t mess with my window seat. You just don’t. I’m a generous woman. I’ll negotiate on most things. I’ll give you the last bite of my candy bar or my very last fry. I’ll tolerate the three snoozes it takes you on a weekend to decide you’ll just exercise later. I’ll even interrupt my day to let you back into the still-idling car you accidentally locked yourself out of. But, the window seat is sacred. Even if it was overcast all the way to Boston and I didn’t get to see a flipping thing, it’s a matter of principle. The window seat is one of life’s little pleasures. It’s worth doing battle for it. Marriage is full of compromises, and this one is his.

Oh, fine. He can have it on the way home.

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What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, And Understanding

The current political climate in this country is making me nauseous. The amount of venom flowing from both sides of the political spectrum is unnerving at best and unpatriotic at worst. I believe in the two party system. I like the way the differences balance each other out. I think our forefathers created something great here. But, somewhere in the recent past, we came to a point where there is no longer a capacity to agree to disagree and to find common ground despite our disputes. Somewhere along the line, we became unable to view compromise as a viable option. Truth is, though, that is how our government was designed to work. If we can’t reach across party lines, then the balance our forefathers sought is impossible and everything is out of whack.

I’ve been thinking about this a great deal lately as the presidential election nears because of things I’m hearing my children say. Our boys attend a fairly homogenous school where they are at a distinct disadvantage. It would be a safe assessment to admit that roughly 98% of the parents at my boys’ school will be voting the same way during this next election. And, yes, our household is in the 2% who will likely vote the other way. Our boys, smart kids that they are, realize that they are in the minority. They hear what their classmates are saying about the election and they are honestly afraid to join the conversation because they don’t want to admit that our household is different. They are afraid to be ostracized. Joe, specifically, has mentioned hateful things his classmates have said regarding political candidates. I know they’re just kids repeating their parents’ views, but that is what frightens me. We’re passing on this culture of narrow-mindedness to the next generation. I’m afraid it will never end.

Growing up, I knew what my parents political beliefs were. I knew that Ronald Reagan made my mom nervous and that my dad was not too impressed with Jimmy Carter. Through my parents’ political differences, I came to accept the discourse between the two parties as part and parcel of a democratic society. I was never afraid to express my views. I grew up willing to stand up for what I believed or at least being willing to talk about it. My boys are too fearful to do the same. I wish they felt it was worth it to state their opinions, but it’s not. They’re growing up in a country where differences are problematic and where compromise is considered weakness.

If I had one great Miss America wish for this country, it’s that I wish we could throw off intolerance and hatred. Someone who disagrees with us is not an enemy. At the end of the day, we all want the same things. We want a better life for our children, a stable and safe country to live in, the right to live within our own belief system, all wrapped up in peace and prosperity. Just because we don’t see eye to eye doesn’t mean we should perpetuate an environment of hatred. I’m trying to teach my children that tolerance is important, and you can’t do that with words alone. You have to live it. When Christ said, “love thy neighbor,” He meant it…and not simply when it’s convenient or when they share your world view. How do we teach our children to play nicely if we can’t?