This is not a pipe. Or, Sometimes a toothbrush is just a toothbrush.

During dinner the other night, a friend told me how he and his new girlfriend wound up having one of those dreaded “Relationship Conversations” over something as innocuous as him brushing his teeth. 


Seems the girlfriend has an electric toothbrush — and after a few months of dating and more than a handful of sleepovers — she felt the time had come to let him have one of his own toothbrush heads at her place.  (It brings to mind the Seinfeld “sponge-worthy episode doesn’t it?) Anyway, a big grin came over her face as he brushed away. 


Who could blame her?  You gotta know she had visions of other mornings like this…reading the paper together in bed, him making her coffee.  Maybe someday he’d have a drawer at her place.  Maybe someday she’d have a key to his condo. There she was happy and smiling, thinking he was all cute, even as he spit that Crest toothpaste into her sink, and likely left water marks all over her vanity mirror.  He got one look at that happy, smiling face…that stupid grin…and said: “It’s just a toothbrush!” 


Whammo!  I can just see her visions of bliss shattered like broken glass all over the cold tiled bathroom floor.


Come on guys, tell me:  When most men have a hard time communicating their feelings how else are we supposed to get a barometer of the relationship?  We know you hate the words “We need to talk…” about as much as “Does this make me look fat?”  So, instead of barraging you with questions, we try to do our own sleuthing.  We stay up late at night analyzing every move, every gesture, every look, every grunt…every lack of a grunt.  Quite frankly it’s exhausting.


And if you hadn’t figured it out already, it’s the #1 topic of conversation between our best gal pals. 


We went on our first date Saturday night…I thought we had a good time, but it’s Thursday and he hasn’t called yet.  Does that mean he doesn’t like me?


We usually talk every day, but I haven’t heard from him since the day before last.  Could he be mad at me? Should I call him?  If I call him will he think I’m pathetic?


We have a late date tomorrow night.  I’m sure I’ll end up sleeping over for the first time.  If I pack a bag with just some clean underwear and my flat iron will he freak out?  What if I just leave it in the car?


He told me the other day that he bought tickets to a concert that’s not for 2 months.  Does that mean he thinks we’ll be together then?  That’s a good sign, right?


Is it a sign?  Is it not a sign?  What’s the meaning behind it all?


All this talk of signs and symbolism got me thinking about the surrealist Rene Magritte and his painting “The Treachery of Images.”  At its most basic, it’s a picture of a pipe with a caption below it that reads “This is not a pipe.”  True.  It’s not a pipe.  It’s a painting of a pipe.


In describing his work, Magritte said, “My painting is visible images which conceal nothing… they evoke mystery and indeed when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question ‘What does that mean’? It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable.”


I’m taking a page from Magritte’s book.  Men ARE a mystery – at least to me.  I’m convinced they’re unknowable.  Or, at the very least un-decipherable.  So for now on I’m simply taking them at face value.  No more will I spend hours on the phone dissecting their every word or action, asking over and over “What does it mean?”


My only question now is how am I going to spend all that newly-found free time?  Maybe I’ll take up painting.




2 responses to “This is not a pipe. Or, Sometimes a toothbrush is just a toothbrush.

  1. I prefer we are ILLUSIONS as opposed to unknowable.

  2. Perspective….

    It’s never ‘just a toothbrush’. The mistake is revealing the internal smile.

    Open book tests were always a joke, dont you think?

    And finally, what you choose to do with your free time should remain undisclosed.

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