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Brushing teeth no time to be moving about

I am not one of those people who can walk around while I'm brushing my teeth.

You know what I mean. In the movies, they mosey nonchalantly from room to room, talking to fellow cast members, getting things done, emoting highly dramatic feelings and furthering important plot points.

I, on the other hand, not only must remain close to the sink during the tooth-brushing process, I actually have to bend over, crouching like a major league shortstop waiting for a blazing grounder. If I don't assume this position, I end up with toothpaste all down the front of my manly torso and, likely as not, little white gloobers all over the mirror and counter before me.

Now, before you assume I'm just not coordinated or talented (which would be correct), I need to point out that I don't squeeze copious amounts of toothpaste onto my brush — even though this is the way they've demonstrated it for years in toothpaste commercials on TV.

I grew up watching them build this giant white snail of toothpaste on the brush, suggesting that if we really wanted to get those chompers clean, we couldn't be chintzy with the product. Only in later life did the other person who lives at our house point out I could get the job done with a tiny fraction of that glob. So I modified.

Still, even with a little dab of toothpaste on there, I can make a mess, so I stay low and mind the dribble.

Meanwhile, TOPWLAOH sashays around the house, turning down the bed, putting clothes and towels away, picking up newspapers and magazines and generally tidying after a full day's worth of mayhem.

She multi-tasks, plans for the day to come and repairs untold damages.

I just try to keep from splattering.

Of course, it is my experience that women pretty much always out-perform men in the who-gets-how-much-done competition.

I think it has something to do with the fact that they are capable of doing, oh, 10, 15 or more things at the same time — while most men are doing great to complete one simple task without being distracted by something out the window or a shiny object on the ground.

“Oh, look, everybody, a piece of broken glass!”

Not to be limited by the kind of wild over-generalization I'm usually famous for, however, I'd like to point out that my toothbrushing issues have nothing to do with mental capacity or lack of determination. I almost never forget what I'm doing when I'm in my toothbrushing-shortstop crouch.

In fact, I don't believe there's ever been a time when I found myself all tucked into bed only to realize I wasn't done with that whole teeth-cleaning project.

And, even though I often find myself entering a room and then stopping and wondering, “Now, what did I come in here for?” — that just never applies here, mainly because I don't do that wandering-while-brushing thing.

I'm also not a big fan of changing course once I've set out on one. I'm actually kind of famous for my ability to stick to the plan. As a group of my closest friends will tell you, I once shamed a whole bunch of them into going to a public hot tub establishment merely because that's what we set out to do.

“Remember that time Mikel Kelly made us all go to the hot tub place, even though it was 90 degrees out?” they often recall.

We were halfway there when they started second-guessing our plan and wondering if we shouldn't do something else.

I blurted out several loud curse words then followed up with the exortation: “Could we just ONCE do what we SAID we were gonna do?”

Turns out, they were all too chicken to argue with me, so we did indeed go sit in a big hot tub — even though it was, in fact, 90 frickin' degrees.

See? I can be persistent. I can get stuff done.

(Former managing editor of several community newspapers, including the Woodburn Independent, Lake Oswego Review and the Times papers, Kelly is chief of the central design desk for Community Newspapers and the Portland Tribune, and he contributes a regular column.)



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