Thursday, March 22, 2012

Toothbrush Technology

If you're like me, you probably wait too long to replace your frayed and splayed brushing device. Or maybe you're one of those people who uses batteries and replaceable heads.  I don't really understand that level of toothbrush technology. It seems like it would be embarrassing to admit that you weren't capable of handling the responsibility of brushing your own teeth. It's a wonder that the electric toothbrushes don't automatically tweet to your dentist and update your Facebook page: "OMG! I'm brushing my teeth!" Or text reminders to your phone: "WTF, you left the house without brushing? That's disgusting."

The dental hygiene aisle puts me in a state of choice-overload panic, much like the grocery store's bread aisle and stylish clothing stores. Maybe that's why I don't replace my toothbrush often enough, make my own bread when possible and haven't had style since, well...ever. Overwhelmed with choice, the consumer in me retreats to the safety of buying nothing.  So the toothbrush aisle: name brand, store brand, angled-head, flexible handle,  massaging bristles, color coded, compact, regular, single-pack, 3-pack, on sale, full price. I just want one damn toothbrush that doesn't need a list of parts and features on the back of the box!  Just think, there are highly educated toothbrush engineers working on the problem right now: what will be the next leap forward in dental hygiene technology?  One can only dream.

 No matter what choice you make in the dental hygiene aisle, using a brand new toothbrush ranks right up there with pulling slouched socks back to their proper height.  But never did I imagine that chevron-shaped ridges could alter my brushing experience so dramatically. Those little nubbles on the back of the brush? Genius! Suddenly, something I've done every day since I started sprouting teeth, is new again. The moment the back of the toothbrush slid past the inside corner of my lips, my eyes widened. Whoa! This feels cool! (yes, I am always that eloquent while brushing). And it made sense. Our lips are full of nerve endings. The surface that touches our teeth doesn't usually get much stimulation while brushing, so the sensation across the inner surface surprises your brain with input. Was I being titillated by my toothbrush? What were those toothbrush engineers doing to me?  As with most good sensations, it fatigues after the first few back-and-forths. Which is probably for the best, otherwise, I might just stand there all day brushing, amazed by the fact that, Whoa. This feels cool!

The day after my first nubble-backed brushing experience, I was in the checkout aisle at the grocery store, waiting my turn. I noticed toothbrushes hanging above the candy -  you know, for all those times when you want to impulse buy a toothbrush along with a deck of playing cards, 5-hour energy shot, and sex advice from Cosmo. (Hmm...that sounds like the recipe for a creepy date.) They also had some kind of ridges or bumps on the back. It's clearly the new "it" thing in toothbrush technology and I'm in favor of this advance.

Now if you'll excuse me, I just finished breakfast and I need to go brush my teeth.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Separated by too great a distance

The four hundred pound man lay face-up, immobile, at the end of the mossy alley. One ambulance had already peeled away from the curb, red lights revolving, sirens screaming. Out of a second, quieter, ambulance, medics wheeled a gurney. Standing around, watching the scene unfold were some of the town's most undesirable. Grown boys who would never be called men, loitered at the mouth of the alley looking like perpetrators. One pale, twiggy kid tugged against the metal-prong collar of a pit-bull as I walked by. It wasn't even Spring yet, but unseasonably warm weather - high 70s and sunny - brought out the summer clothes ahead of schedule. Their long, loose, NBA jerseys, showcased scrawny arms, white and weak. Red and black polyester shimmered in the sun. Shoddy scrawls of blue-black tattoos adorned their bodies, signifying nothing to me, but perhaps everything to them. Rural thugs, fed on high fructose corn syrup and cigarettes since birth, (second hand followed too quickly by first) some with missing teeth, some with missing cognitive abilities, all with nothing to do, intimidated me. Conversation halted as I parted their sidewalk gathering.  Down the alley, the man-in-blue (tall, clean, broad, armed),  loomed above the 400-pound man, talking to the only woman in the mix - she and her t-shirt were both too thin, an ACE bandage wrapped her arm.

 I had the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction weighing down my little red backpack. I'd walked 2 miles to the library to return this hefty tome and check out a few other light authors: Thomas Paine, Saul Bellow, Samuel Beckett, since, hey, there he was in the general area of Saul Bellow.  I finished my business quickly  hoping that I might be a chance bystander as they hoisted the 400-pound man onto the gurney and wheeled him to the waiting ambulance. How was something like that managed - with the weight and the alley and the people loitering?  But the alley looked back at me, empty. The cop and the woman were still talking, but out on the sidewalk now, in front of the cafe window. Without any sense of urgency, the ambulance pulled from the curb, lights revolving, a few brief siren blasts as it pulled into traffic. Was its passenger dead?  Over my shoulder, with my ears straining backward, I heard the police officer ask: "And where's the baby now?"  The woman started to answer, but too much distance separated me from the scene, from those people. I couldn't hear her answer. Not without stopping, not without an effort. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Me and Rosemary - April 2009

Back in April of 2009 I nurtured our rosemary plant through its first long winter. That was three years ago. Take a look at Rosemary now. What's funny, is that the snow blower is still back there in the same spot as usual, but you almost can't see it because the plant's too big.

Me and Rosemary - March 2012