There's a certain amount of maintenance that goes into any strong union. For instance, after 10 years of marriage, I still won't let my husband see me brush my teeth. I'd take him out with the door, lay him flat out on the other side of it after slamming it on his face, in a frantic attempt to bar entry and forestall embarrassing questions.
It still hasn't prevented him from catching glimpses now and then of the horrific spectacle. He knows all too well that when I'm brushing my teeth, toothpaste flies at the mirror, sprays my glasses, dribbles in frothy rivers down my chin, and gets up my nostrils. It's an uncomfortable thing to watch - a poltergeist movie where the ghost is only interested in making me appear the fool while performing basic hygienic tasks. Or a monster tale in which I'm transformed into the Frankenstein creature who points with sad eyes and inarticulate gurglings at the mess I've made of my shirt.
Tragically, many shirts have lost their lives in just such a way, permanently bearing the marks left behind by gobs of garment-killing toothpaste.
During my pregnancies I had a most difficult time, for paste that should have splattered on the floor instead splatted across my belly. I used to grab tissue or hand towels and dab frantically at the mess only to find sooner the tell-tale white stain that was destined to haunt my maternity wardrobe ever more, because nothing can eradicate a toothpaste stain. I'm sure most people have no experience of attempting to do so on a regular basis, but I have and I can testify to the veracity of above statement.
"Why don't you just put your clothes on when you're done?" Matthew said in irritation once when I emerged from the bathroom in distress, drooling toothpaste and gesturing with a plaintive, "ooh, oohhh..." at the carnage of another shirt.
I stared at him in wide-eyed revelation. Of course! - the perfect way to thwart my self-destructive tendencies.
In theory, I do know it is possible to brush one's teeth and only have the faintest white rim about the lips like the smile of a hygiene-happy clown, just as I know it is possible to wash one's face over the bathroom sink without flooding the counter and dripping puddles onto the bathroom floor. However, the science of such methods eludes me.
Therefore when I'm standing before the mirror with a joker's grin on my face - just scrubbing away in my Neanderthal fashion - and I suddenly hear my spouse enter our bedroom, you can bet I slam the bathroom door and bolt it before he can turn the corner. If he saw my face with its wolfish flecks of white paste about it, all foam and no dignity, he might begin to ponder the fact that he could have had a prim little creature who never got spots of toothpaste on her glasses or her shirts, and that, you know, would just break my heart.