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Just Brush Your Teeth For A Normal Amount Of Time

Staff writer Sarah Perry shares her opinion on communal bathroom toothbrushing practices.

Every night, I venture to the bathroom of Brooks 8, mosey into the shower, then wander to the sink to brush my teeth. Invariably, another resident of my floor has somehow meandered to the sink at the same time as me. I steel myself. She pulls out a toothbrush and brandishes it at me. I, too, set my shower caddy down and wield my toothbrush and toothpaste.

Instead of throwing down a gauntlet, we simultaneously squeeze a pea-sized dollop of toothpaste onto our respective toothbrushes. This is war.

As we brush our teeth, I begin to panic. How long is she going to do this? It’s my halfway point and she hasn’t even spit yet. When I’m satisfied with my teeth’s cleanliness, she STILL hasn’t spit. I don’t want her to think that I’m disgusting so I don’t stop. At this point, it’s near my record for the longest toothbrushing session. And I don’t stop. And she doesn’t stop. And neither of us stop brushing our teeth. The sheer length of time that we’ve both been brushing our teeth is ridiculous. Finally, I cave in. I rinse. She’s still brushing her teeth and I don’t think she’s spit yet.

As I move on to cleaning my retainers, she gives me the side-eye. I think I see her spit, but she’s nowhere near done. She’s still brushing her teeth as I put in my retainers and dry off my hands. I leave. As I leave, I can feel her staring at me through the mirror. She’s still brushing her teeth. I have no idea when she stopped.

I swear that my dental hygiene is good. Maybe not the I-brush-my-teeth-for-an-ungodly-five-minutes kind of good, but it’s still a respectable I-brush-my-teeth-for-a-normal-two-minutes kind of good. I honest to God have gone through this every time that I’ve brushed my teeth next to somebody during my month at Barnard. I don’t want to be the first person to stop brushing my teeth and look like I’m nastier than the other person. Neither, I assume, does anyone I brush my teeth next to. When will we stop pushing each other to brush our teeth longer than natural? When will this subtle societal injustice stop? Residents of dorms with communal bathrooms, I beg of you, put this to an end. Let us not drive each other to excess. Instead, brush your teeth normally, for a regular amount of time, and don’t give other people looks when they stop brushing their teeth before you.


happy woman with a toothbrush via Public Domain Pictures

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  • middle aged alum says:

    @middle aged alum Literally went through this back when I lived in John Jay a decade ago. One of my neighbors and I spent ten minutes brushing our teeth one night because neither of us could back down.

  • Naomi says:

    @Naomi 😆 love it!!🦷😬

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