It used to be that how one squeezed the toothpaste tube could ruin a marriage. If you were a ham-fisted buffoon that grabbed the tube in the middle, you’d soon trap a third of the toothpaste at the bottom. And what a horrible reminder to your wife that she would never be caressed gently or tenderly by her husband, for here was a man that could only manage the crudest of touch. A man like that would be better off single, using his heavy grip on jackhammers.
Back then, the tubes were metal. If you don’t remember that, then this whole story is pointless. Nowadays, there are plastic tubes and small bottles for toothpaste, both of which are immune to the squeeze from the middle problem. There are also pump driven cylinders that draw the paste out vertically.
If you remember the metal tubes, do you also remember the plastic key designed to grip the bottom of a metal toothpaste tube. Once installed, you would turn the key (which folded the tube over itself neatly) to squeeze out toothpaste. When the tube was nearly empty, you’d have this huge wrap around the key of tube, and just a little nipple at the top. Without tension, the key would unwind slightly, and the unraveled tube suggested a form of abstract art to me.
My wife and I keep our own, seperate toothpaste. There is no risk of arguing over how the tube was squeezed, or if one us misplaces the cap. Is that progress? I’m not so sure.
We go about our lives like roommates, never really testing the water to see how volatile our marriage might be. With separate toothpaste, separate shampoo, and separate closets, are we even married? Marriage is about conflict, stress, and the constant threat of divorce. Yet, by depending on each other to not screw up the toothpaste tube, my parents found meaning in their lives, and probably love.
I can’t believe that modern culture has robbed me of that possibility.