The couch scratched my thigh in the most distracting way. I immediately regretted wearing shorts. As if I was not vulnerable enough, opening my mind and turning my truths into air for others to breath, sound for others to interpret, tangible realities for myself to confront. And the itching of the twill couch on my bare thighs created a most unwelcoming sensation. As if the couch was whispering to me: “pssst, you’re not safe here. You’re not supposed to be comfortable.” My truths are safe inside the private universe of my own mind. Protected by their failure to ever leak into anyone else’s mind space where they could be whirled and battered into anything other than what they are to me. He sat across from me, his eyes awaiting my exposure as if his delicious prey was cornered.
I have many times had been made to feel like a toothbrush. One appreciates his toothbrush. One uses his toothbrush how he pleases, when he pleases. One cares for his toothbrush, but only because it works to his advantage to do so. One does not worry about what’s going on with his toothbrush, or if his toothbrush is having a bad day. One actually completely forgets about his toothbrush whenever he doesn’t need it. But if the toothbrush does work as well as usual or doesn’t give him that minty fresh feeling right after he spits, he may show concern. One doesn’t think much of his toothbrush being there every morning and night, but if it wasn’t he would feel frustrated, as if his life was vacant of something of great value. One would certainly care very much if someone else used his toothbrush. And when the bristles of a toothbrush begin to round and grow coarse, or the body of the toothbrush snaps and holding it is now an inconvenience, then he throws the toothbrush in the trash, and gets a new one.
I have been a loyal toothbrush that served my purpose for years. I would make him feel clean and satisfied. I sometimes didn’t even mind digging into his back molars and pulling out the remanence of his dinner. I was glad to dig the pulled pork out from the crevice between his gums, or to smooth the moist hamburger bun out the dip of the teeth in the back of his mouth. I cleaned up the messes that nobody else knew of or could possibly notice. That only he felt, and weighed intensely on him, but were essentially invisible to anyone besides the two of them. I was his only remedy to feel comfortable again. I didn’t mind being his toothbrush, it gave me purpose, and was satisfied to do my job right and feel his gratitude.
I was only important to them relative to them. I was a counterpart to their life, not a human in my own right. As genuinely as their care for me seemed, it was really just care for themselves. As a toothbrush to one’s dental hygiene. The only point of a toothbrush is to make one feel good. Nobody cares how the toothbrush feels.
So, if I stopped making their teeth feel pearly and fresh morning and night, a new toothbrush they would find.