jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


Last night I am reminded of how potent a symbol is the toothbrush. Do you remember? The first time you spent the night at his place? It was unexpected, unplanned, and in the morning you asked to use his toothbrush. For just a second, before he answered you were anxious, whatever intimacies the night before had brought, whatever intimacy you had then, in the morning light of his bedroom, what would his answer be? The yes of acceptance and acknowledgement, or the no of regret and dismissal?

Or the time you went to the CVS to replace your own toothbrush. You bought your favorite kind, in your favorite color, and got a second one as well, but a different color. A guy color, not pink. You put it in your medicine cabinet, but you did not tell him. Did not tell him of your hope, did not tell him of the tiny dream sleeping in the dark in your bathroom, did not tell him of your tender ludicrous fantasy contained in such a mundane item.

Do you remember the thrill of the invitation? When he asks you to bring your toothbrush over, or even presents you with one? That he offers to let you own a precious two square inches that formerly belonged to him. Two inches, of mostly hole, there, to hang your toothbrush. You can plant your tiny flag of ownership, its handle twinned by his, what joy in that.

Last night I came home to the vacancy left by my weekend houseguest. Tonight there would not be the simple pleasure of having a meal prepared for me, no laughing ignorance of the stacks of dishes, no conversations with feet tucked up on the couch. I went to shower, found the soap pleasantly askew in the dish, the shower head adjusted for someone much taller, and in the toothbrush holder, yes, his toothbrush. It does not mean all that one would hope for it to mean, it does not mean that at all. But the sight of it, oh the sight of it is so evocative.


Blogger Dr. S said...

And: the trip to the grocery the next night, the laughing over what kind of toothbrush to pick, over whether to buy a whole new bottle of face lotion. And how the relationship ran out when the bottle was still half-full. And how I couldn't bring myself to throw out the toothbrush until I found it, where I'd left it in the back of a drawer, months later.

5:03 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

ow. yup. maybe sometime it will not seem so pathetic I will tell the story of the pillowcase I did not wash until...uh, no, that's just pathetic. and for those of you who are all happy for me, sometimes a houseguest is just a cigar.

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about a toothbrush, is it sometimes just a cigar?

3:03 AM  
Blogger GMD said...


I think my last toothbrush offer was one of those spare ones from the dentist that collect in the cupboard, since I use an electric.

7:14 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

anon, perhaps I am riffing too densely on Freud's "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" and not a symbol or intimation of anything else. Here, a friend's forgotten toothbrush is just that, alas, nothing more.

9:33 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

gmd, oh how I have missed you! like the extra toothbrush not in my bathroom! well, not really, but sorta, you get the idea, right?

9:37 AM  
Blogger slickaphonic said...

I'm glad you put in an explanation for the "just a cigar" comment...

my vulgar mind went immediately to the cigar in context of Monica Lewinsky and Clinton.

Why am I sharing this you ask?

Because I am sleepy.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous famjaztique said...

I am on the brink of the "toothbrush" and scared to death of its appearance.

1:26 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

famfroujen, how wonderful! oh gosh, I hope you have found what you wanted, and I hope he stays.

7:37 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

slick, you are allowed to be sleepy and vulgar. sometimes a lovely combination and I hope you find a toothbrush (or a cigar) to share it with!

7:56 AM  
Blogger slickaphonic said...

The next time one of my fellow single friends bemoans their single status, with a dreamy look in my eyes, I will grab his or her hands and say with utter certainty, "Your extra toothbrush is out there."

And then I will laugh as their eyebrows furrow in puzzlement.

FJ: Huzzah!

12:21 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

heh. you complete me.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous famjaztique said...

The appeared! Joy of joys! I am tickled, and thrilled, and bursting, and scared to death.

12:25 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

oh golly! that is so swell! I just found out my pal EastWesterner also has successfully joined that ranks of the dual toothbrushed. yea!

2:04 PM  

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