My family has a history of dry sarcastic humor. It started with my grandfathers, both of whom were fond of pulling practical jokes, especially on their friends and family.
Then, when my sisters and I were small, Dad would get us to eat certain foods by changing their names. Things like salsa and brightly colored vegetables became “candy,” and split pea soup became “Saint Patrick’s Day Bean and Ham.” Later, we learned how to spot Dad in his creative moments, and he taught us all how to put on the perfect poker face while pulling jokes on each other.
It should come as no surprise that Dad also had a way with changing old clichés into family sayings. Usually he’d just quote lines from movies, but occasionally he’d produce something unforgettable. When he came up with “Home is where the toothbrush is,” though, he had no idea what he had created.
If the old adage “Home Is Where the Heart Is” were true, then I would have a “home” in many places across the country, not to mention the world. And, while I’m sure that my friends and relatives wouldn’t mind putting up with me for a few days, I would not be able to stay there indefinitely. A toothbrush, however, is a different story.
Toothbrushes are interesting items. They look a little funny, with a long handle, odd rubber grips for “better brushing control,” and a plethora of little blue and white bristles at one end. They’re cheap and easy to replace, but very personal objects. If somebody uses your toothbrush, they might as well just have just spit in your face, while giving you the worst wedgie ever seen off of elementary school playgrounds.
I hated it whenever I forgot my toothbrush on long trips, especially while camping. Not only did it mean that I had to use one of my sister’s toothbrushes (which they weren’t too happy about either), but I also had to wait until the next trip into town until I could get one of my own.
And then there was the road trip to Oregon, where I not only forgot my toothbrush, but also my toothpaste. When we arrived at the hotel, my parents said that they would pick up both the items when they went to go get cough syrup. They came back with a perfectly ordinary blue toothbrush, but the most horrendous “Hello Kitty,” pink, bubble-gum flavored, glittery junk that I have ever used to get my teeth clean. It didn’t even deserve to be called toothpaste – and I had to stick with it for a week.
When my older sisters left for college and to travel the world, they all took dad’s saying to heart: There are still four toothbrushes sitting next to the bathroom sink. That way my parents know that we will always be coming home.