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Toothbrush Talk

I kept using his toothbrush by accident… So I labeled them!

Marital communication is one of those things that grows stronger with time and practice, and Jon & I have been at it for not quite a year…  Still, one of our stranger strengths is evident at toothbrushing-time….

Our electric toothbrushes run for two timed minutes, during which time we can’t speak without spraying toothpaste-lather, but we manage not to stop talking anyway. With sort of hummed inflections and plenty of pantomime (one-handed, since we’re holding onto toothbrushes) we manage to carry out fairly complex non-verbal conversations about plans for the day ahead or events of the day just finished.

Last night Jon asked me (wordlessly) if I had printed out the lesson plans for this weekend’s Sunday school (not yet, but I’ll rev up the printer today). He told me my teddy bear will fight off the bad dreams so I won’t have a repeat of the previous evening’s nightmare…  (I think this mode bodes well for when we dive together; regular dive buddies develop their own underwater sign language, and we’re well on our way with ours. Though our dive conversations will no doubt be very different in content from the toothbrush-talk…)

This morning PBS aired a documentary about a tribe in Oaxaca, Mexico with a language of whistles. They have a spoken language as well, but they can communicate across the village or between foggy fields with an entire vocabulary of whistling. We’ve got a few of those too—the other day when Jon walked into a place where I didn’t expect him, it was his distinctive whistle that whipped my head in his direction. I know what he’s saying when he whistles “I’m here!” “Ready to go?” “Can you give me a hand?” “You look cute”… At the family campout this summer, his brothers laughed when I came trotting to a whistle “like a puppy,” but I know it’s a call for me and I’m happy to answer.

Jonathan Smith
yup, I’ll come for his whistle

I don’t think whistles or pantomimes are included among the official “5 Love Languages” (I’ll find out—we just added the book to our morning reading-rotation)… But for us, it’s in every whistle, and every grin when a toothbrushing charade becomes clear.


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

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