Things you should think twice about sharing

Suzy and I moved into a new neighbourhood of central Ottawa in late 2009. We only knew one couple on the street, but we were excited to settle in and make new friends. It didn’t take long, and now some of our closest friends are among our newest. That’s pretty amazing in this day and age. We’re happy here in our new home – which makes it easier now to reflect on the six weeks we spent with Suzy’s parents between when we sold our old house and when we took possession of the new one.

I love my in-laws. They’ve always welcomed me like I’m their own son. George is a terrific guy, and Freda and I are very close. On several occasions over the years since Suzy and I married in 1999, Freda has put her arm around me and told me very seriously that she’d like to remain my friend if Suzy and I ever get a divorce. I can think of no more flattering a tribute – even if it makes me wonder. But after six weeks of sleeping on an air mattress in their dining room, by the time we left the in-laws’ for our new place, they were glad to see the tail end of us.

Six weeks with my wife’s parents. Yep. And it was only as we approached the sunset of that long autumn stay that I realized that Freda and I had been using the same toothbrush – the whole time.

Apparently, the reaction to this kind of sharing is not universal. By talking about this, I have discovered that several people I thought I knew well always share a toothbrush with their spouse. One couple even keeps a “toothbrush jar” with several in it that they randomly grab when the need arises. This also conveniently services surprise overnight guests. You never know whose you’re gonna get.

What awesome randomness! Don’t you just wonder: If you have a “toothbrush jar,” what does it indicate about your other choices and preferences? Do people who share a toothbrush also do joint chequing? Is the inverse true? What else do they share?

It just goes to show that we take a lot at face value in our society. The streets in my new neighbourhood are uniformly straight; the walkways are all tidily shoveled. But you really only have to scratch the surface (or notice what’s on the back of the sink) to discover fascinating differences that can make life more interesting and rich.

So here’s some advice I’d like to share: 1) Tonight, brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Trying new things is good for your brain. 2) The next time you’re in Shoppers, go all crazy and buy several toothbrushes that are the same colour. Imagine what this simple action will do for your marriage. Oh, and toss the dental floss. More on that tomorrow.

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