I have an attachment to dental floss. After re-reading that sentence, I know what you’re thinking.
To clarify, while I’ll make no bones about advocating for regular flossing as part of a long-term oral hygiene plan, my attachment to the stuff is purely physical. (Also, I am weird.)
Wait, that doesn’t sound good either.
My issue (that’s a much better word than “attachment”) lies in the difficulty I have disposing of my used floss. In short, after my session is complete, it never wants to let go of my fingers. I’ve tried a number of methods to efficiently get it from my hand to the wastebasket, but it rarely cooperates.
And it happens every day. I start with good intentions, pulling a substantial (but not excessive) length of the minty, white strand from its case, twirling the ends around respective fingers on both hands and begin my ritual: start in the back, top left, gently working my way around to the right, then, continuing on the bottom right, moving back to the left.
So simple. So effective. So gratifying.
Then, after all that great work, the satisfaction of a job well done, and the calming deep sigh of a morning off to great start, the fight begins.
First, the floss grabs my left thumb, and I work to shake it off, sending it flying, and it comes to rest on the edge of the bathroom sink. “No problem,” I think to myself as I grab it with the thumb and forefinger of my right hand, to which it’s now clinging like a koala to a Eucalyptus tree on a windy day. Again, I shake it off, and it finds its way to my shirt.
“Good grief,” I think, half aloud as I peel the string off my shirt and try to put it in the garbage, but my half-baked attempt makes it land half-in, half-out of the can. (Heavy sigh, but not the kind I expressed moments prior, in my post-floss afterglow. This one is labored, and with attitude.)
Again, I grab the floss with more force than I’m sure it would like, but damn it, I need to get on with my day, and now, I’m also agitated because my early morning isn’t quite as peaceful as it was just moments ago.
This time, I ball it up until it looks like a tiny version of those rubber band clusters you can buy at office supply stores. Next, I stand directly over the wastebasket, shoot the tiny floss ball into the can and walk away, satisfied I’m finally rid of that slimy little piece of string which not three minutes before was my friend and trusted ally in the fight against tooth decay and tartar buildup.
Everything seems to be back on track until a few moments later. I’ve outfitted the dog for our daily walk, another part of my early-morning routine. As we pass the bathroom, something catches my eye. It’s the floss ball, sitting on the floor next to the wastebasket. I’m stunned. I’m mad. And, I’m impressed. “I know that floss made it into the can. I saw it. How the hell did it jump back out?” I look at Sadie (the dog), as though she might have the answer.
Let me tell you something, friends. If you know our dog, you’d know that if any dog anywhere had any answers about anything, Sadie would not be that dog. She simply stands there, facing forward, waiting patiently for our walk to commence, as though she’s waiting for a bus or for the next voting booth to become available.
“Stay here,” I tell her, as though this blind, 11-year-old mutt with very little motivation on a good day is suddenly going to bolt for the door the moment I turn my back. Nonetheless, she obliges, continuing to face forward as I re-enter the bathroom, pick up the now slimy and dusty and “bathroom-floor-contaminated” floss ball one last time. (This is not to say we don’t have a clean bathroom. We do, but let’s be real, dust and residual bathroom “stuff” exists in even the cleanest bathrooms.)
This time, I’m not leaving anything to chance. This time, I’m not tossing, shaking or flicking it into the can. This time, I open the lid and place it directly inside the receptacle, making sure it’s found its final resting place. Then, I go back and double-check my work.
I then wash my hands and turn back to the hallway to find that, for the first time in her life, Sadie has indeed left the scene, and as I approach the front door, I see she’s heading back upstairs to bed, leash dragging behind her. (Another heavy sigh.)
Moments later, after some light and quiet encouragement (others are still sleeping), I’m able to coax Sadie out for our walk, and life has regained its balance.
As we walked, I talked to Sadie about my flossing frustration. “You know, we can do so many things these days. You’d think someone would have developed ‘non-stick’ floss by now.” Sadie says nothing. (She is, after all, a dog, and her voice only comes out when I speak for her, in a raspy low tone I gave her as a puppy … don’t judge, I already admitted I’m weird, and if you have a pet, you’ve probably given it a voice as well.)
Anyway, as we walk, Sadie continues to face forward, tail wagging, ears blowing in the breeze. And that makes me sigh, another calming deep sigh because the morning is, once again, off to a great start, but not before I have one more idea to bounce off her. “Maybe next time, I’ll ball up the floss in my mouth and spit it into the can.”
© 2020 David R. Haznaw