As I was standing in an aisle at the grocery store over the weekend, trying to remember which color toothbrushes my roommates currently have so I didn’t buy the same color, a memory popped into my head.

My first year out of college, I lived at home to save money. This meant that Dude and I were once again sharing a bathroom.

As I mentioned in previous posts, Dude has low muscle tone and underdeveloped fine motor skills. This means that he needs help cutting up food, writing, and doing self-care tasks such as brushing his teeth.

When I brush my teeth, I do it the same way every time. Pick up the toothbrush, put the toothpaste on it, run it under some water, and begin brushing my teeth.

One night, when I was living at home, I picked up my red toothbrush by the brush instead of the handle. I noticed immediately that it was wet.

Dude had been in the bathroom a few minutes earlier going through his nighttime routine. I reached for the toothbrush holder (the standard kind with four holes in it) and felt his blue toothbrush. It was dry.

I opened the door from the bathroom into his room, where Mom was helping him get ready for bed.

“Hey Mom?” I began. “Did you accidentally use my toothbrush to brush Dude’s teeth?”

“Hmm?” she said distractedly as she looked for his chapstick on his dresser.

“My toothbrush is wet. His is dry. Did you use mine?”

“I dunno. I used the one on the right like I always do.”

A sense of realization and horror was growing in me.

“What do you mean, ‘I used on the one on the right like I always do?!'” I demanded.

Mom turned around, looking slightly exasperated at the fact she had to explain such a simple concept.

“His cup is on the right. Your cup is on the left. Therefore his toothbrush is on the right and yours is on the left!”

“You mean you don’t tell our toothbrushes apart by color?” I asked weakly.

“No,” she answered.


Mom’s color started to rise, “I don’t know! I just always grab from the same place!”

I was now grimacing and fighting the urge to gag at the thought of my brother and I swapping mouth bacteria on a regular basis, “We have different color toothbrushes for a REASON! Why bother if you aren’t going to tell them apart that way?! Does Dad know about this rule?”

“Yes!” Mom replied, defiantly.

“Dad!” I yelled downstairs. “Come up here! We have to ask you something.”

Dad appeared, looking a bit confused.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“How do you tell Dude’s toothbrush apart from mine when you brush his teeth?” I asked.

“His is the blue one,” Dad responded immediately.

“THANK YOU!” I yelled as Mom opened her mouth in protest.

“No!” she argued, gesturing towards the sink. “Dude’s toothbrush is always on the right.”

“Well yea.. sometimes it is. But why bother with placement when it’s so easy to tell them apart by color?” Dad answered reasonably.

“Well apparently Mom doesn’t do it that way and FAILED TO TELL ME, SO DUDE AND I HAVE BEEN SWAPPING SPIT FOR GOD KNOWS HOW MANY YEARS!” I answered, not so reasonably.

Dad snickered at he looked between me and Mom, glowering at each other.

“Spit, yo!” Dude contributed from his spot on the bed.

And that’s the story of why I always check my toothbrush for dryness before use when Dude and I are sleeping under the same roof!


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