My Toothbrush

Whenever we go on a trip, I like to wait until we are an hour out before remembering what I forgot.

This time it was my razor and toothbrush.

I deliberately forgot my razor so that doesn’t count. At least for me it doesn’t. For my wife, that’s a different story.

She insists I shave. I insist I don’t. She always wins that war of wills unless I forget my razor on a trip – which is why I do.

The toothbrush is another matter. I don’t like forgetting it because I can’t stand going without it, therefore you would think I would make a point of packing one but some things are just so much a part of life that you don’t think about them and for one reason or another, the bag of toiletries I carry is always missing a toothbrush (and a razor).

Brushing one’s teeth is a good thing. It speaks for itself. It is just part and parcel of taking care of the business of living – but there is another dimension to it.

I always eat things that I should not. I never turn down the second piece of pie, nor can I resist any offer of caramel or taffy and I am utterly devoted to the beef jerky and sausages that one can only find at gas stations.

So my relationship with my teeth is a vicious cycle of transgression and atonement.

I worry about this.

It is always important to follow every sin with repentance and every offense with restitution – but repentance and restitution are in themselves troublesome things because they are the very things that open the door to the delights of wrong doing.

I learned this in Catholic school when after my classmates and I were marched into confession every week, we marched out plotting the sins that we would confess the next week.

Life is not worth living without the occasional walk on the wild side. In fact, most of us look forward to these jaunts and once we have partaken in our indulgences, we must make amends, if only with ourselves.

So we diet.

We put in extra time for having goofed off.

We buy flowers and candy after staying out until dawn with the boys.

And we brush.

So in preparation for making amends with my teeth, I told my wife, “Let’s stop at the next drugstore.”

“Let me guess,” she said, “you forgot your toothbrush.”

Like a scolded dog, I lowered my head.

“And your razor?”

I lowered my head even lower – knowing full well I intended to forget about that as soon as I could.