Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ode to Useful Tools - The Toothbrush

This is the first in a series of "odes" to useful tools. This is how I amuse myself, (or kid myself ) when I am doing a task that I really hate or resent. I wonder, "How could I think of this differently so I can justify doing it?" It keeps my mind occupied in a writer's frame of mind until the task has moved on to the stage that I like, "It's done!" And I feel oddly satisfied.

What is an ode?

An ode is typically a lyrical verse written in praise of or dedicated to someone or something which captures the poet's interest or serves as an inspiration for the ode. (According to Wikipedia, so it must be so.)

I'm not a poet, and there won't be any lyrical verses in my writing, so you don't have to run just yet. I like to break rules whenever I can. Writers live by lots of rules (grammar, spelling, sentence structure, style guides, and the whims of other editors who may be your boss or colleagues that you have to get along with like it or not). If you are a poet, you may want to write your own ode to the toothbrush. I'd like to read it.

So here goes: Ode to the Toothbrush

Have you ever stopped to think about the life cycle of a toothbrush? Me neither. But when you spend as much time as I do with one in your hand, you need to think of something. What you do with a toothbrush is usually mundane and redundant, but necessary and useful.

The thing I do with a toothbrush that I hate the most is clean the shower. A chore I "abhor". (That's the only "lyrical" verse I promise.) A chore I wish was someone else's. A chore I resent each time I do it. "I should hire someone!" For some reason, each time I clean the shower, I usually wind up thinking, "What have I really accomplished? Where am I going? How did I get here on my hands and knees with this old toothbrush and all this mold!"

But today, I thought about the toothbrush and how it spends its life cycle. It begins its life in your mouth with every living thing in there that you want to get rid of. It is the only thing that puts up with your morning breath, the Lebanese food you ate for lunch, and what happens to your mouth after a night of waaaay too much drinking (not me, I outgrew that stuff years ago). And when you get a bad cold . . . lets not even go there!

After you've used and abused the poor thing, its next job is to live under your sink in wait for even nastier bacteria! What lives in the shower! Then off to the trash can. Whatever job or task I have is way better!

Did Andy Warhol ever create a tribute to the toothbrush like he did with the Campbell's soup cans?

Apparently I'm not so weird . . . after all. (I had to check just to make sure. I was having some doubts!) The Austin Museum of Modern Art put on Extra-Ordinary: The Everyday Object in American Art, featuring Brillo Pads, toothbrushes and other useful objects we usually take for granted. (It is perhaps "art" or that they simply couldn't afford to work in bronze or silver!) I'm not a fan of Brillo Pads, but now I'm wondering if they used new or used pads? Let's not go there either! A thought worse than shower mold.

Oddly enough, the toothbrush is becoming an object of art. Take a peek at some of the designer models coming out.

There are more and more companies selling toothbrushes and designers trying to out do each other. I would love to see an exhibit on celebrity toothbrushes! I wonder how much they pay for their designer models or if they use plain old Oral B's just like us. Myriah Carey, Madonna and oh! Celine Dion. The "diva" toothbrush. What would it look like?

The question is, would you use your work of art on your shower?

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