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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hard and Soft (04/23/09)

TITLE: Always Pack Your Toothbrush
By Betty Castleberry


Mildred complained, again. “Delores, why do you have to use every cup holder in this car? I’m driving, and I need to be able to get my drink without fishing for it. You don’t want us to have a wreck, do you?”

“Of course not.” I pointed to an empty holder. “Use that one.”

“Might as well be on the moon. It’s hard to reach from here.”

I rearranged my things. “There. Now you have the holder closest to you.”

Mildred has been my best friend for fifty years, but she can be difficult. I’m still not sure why I agreed to go on a road trip with her. We both lost our husbands several years ago, and I guess I just let her talk me into it.

“It will give us something to do,“ she reasoned. “Let’s go to the Grand Canyon. We’ll drive across New Mexico and stop at Carlsbad Caverns on the way.”

So there we were in Mildred’s Lincoln, crossing the state line from Texas into New Mexico.

I frowned out the window on the passenger’s side. “I forgot to bring my hair dryer.”

“Too late to go back for it now. Besides, most motels have hair dryers these days.”

“Oh, that’s right.”

A look of near panic crossed Mildred’s face. “I didn’t bring my toothbrush.”

“That’s an easy fix. I always travel with an extra brand new one.”

“I bet it doesn’t have hard bristles.”

“No. It’s got soft bristles.”

“I can’t possibly use a soft toothbrush. I don’t feel like my teeth are clean if I do.”

“Now isn’t the time to be picky. I like my soft one. It’s gentle on my gums.”

“I have to stop and buy a hard bristle toothbrush.”

Sandy hills and cacti sailed past my window. “I don’t see any stores here, and we’re sixty miles from Carlsbad.”

“We’ll stop in Carlsbad and find a store.”

While that sounded reasonable enough, I knew it wasn’t. We were already running behind schedule. Mildred was notorious for spending hours trying to find the perfect item to purchase. I assumed she would have to have the perfect toothbrush, too.

Looking back, the plan I devised wasn’t too bright, but at the time it seemed workable. “You know Mildred, my extra toothbrush may have hard bristles. I just grabbed it without really looking when I bought it. Let me see.”

I reached for my bag in the back seat and rummaged around until I found the new toothbrush. It was indeed a soft bristle brush, but I wasn’t admitting defeat. More digging in the bag yielded a tube of super glue. A couple of drops of glue on the brush would quickly turn it into a hard bristle model. Discreetly, I turned toward the window and twisted off the top of the glue noting the “Instantly bonds skin” warning. I had just squeezed a drop on the toothbrush when Mildred hit a big pothole. The car bounced wildly and the toothbrush flew out of my hand. It landed bristle-side down on Mildred’s bare knee. Her mouth opened like a hungry guppy as she gawked at the toothbrush stuck to her skin. “What…”

I slapped my hand to my chest. “I’m sorry. Here, let me get it off.”

It didn’t budge. She drove to Carlsbad in tears with a neon pink toothbrush glued to her knee. I apologized between fits of giggles.

The emergency room nurses were kind, but I could see the laughter in their eyes. One asked if she could take a photo of Mildred’s knee for their “Most Unusual Cases” scrapbook.

The doctor turned out to be a distinguished looking widower. Although Mildred was pretty mad at me, she smiled sweetly at him and told him what had happened.

He talked while he worked with a tiny scalpel. “They say that the soft bristle toothbrushes are best. Easier on the gums. I always get the soft bristle toothbrushes myself. Tell me again, did you say you prefer the hard bristle variety?”

Honest to goodness, Mildred batted her eyelashes and replied, “I prefer them sort of…medium.”

I rolled my eyes, but neither of them saw me. They had moved on to the finer points of flossing. The doctor liked waxed floss. Mildred pretended to agree. Her purse happened to be gaping open and her unwaxed floss was about to spill out. I snapped her bag shut. It was the least I could do.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Lee Schab 04/30/09
LOL...poor Mildred. :-) But I had a couple of questions...why wasn't the new toothbrush in a package and would she really let Mildred brush her teeth with super glue? I wanted to see what would happen once they got to the hotel and Mildred went to brush her teeth. But you know, who cares? Too funny.
Gregory Kane05/02/09
I think that this is one of those zany best-friend stories where the details don't always have to work out precisely. It was crazy but humorous in its own way. Bit unfair mind to fall in love right at the start of your vacation!
Chely Roach05/02/09
Tee hee. I like it. Hee hee.
Mona Purvis05/04/09
I don't know if I want to brush my teeth with superglue, but it would probably do the trick. Loved the relationship of these two old friends.
Emily Gibson05/04/09
It seems this pair of "best forever friends" could become the focus of a bunch of vignettes like this. A real hoot!
Kristen Hester05/04/09
Fun, fun, fun! I love it! Your last line was PERFECT: "It's the least I could do." Ha! I love a good romance..at any age!
Seema Bagai 05/04/09
Hilarious. I want to read about the rest of their trip.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/04/09
Your characters are superb as revealed through their dialogue, and the humorous plot is great fun to follow.
Shelley Ledfors 05/04/09
I wondered who had written this. Love it! So funny and charming. Great job!
Karlene Jacobsen05/04/09
I loved reading about these two ladies. How old were they? The toothbrush, the flirting, hehe, crazy fun!
Sonya Leigh05/04/09
I laughed out loud...I really LOVE a good belly laugh. And I love Lucy! This was truly hilarious. You have a very good knack for humor--keep writing it.
Connie Dixon05/04/09
This story makes my roadtrips with my girlfriend seem pretty boring. Could this be a true story? Pretty "out there". Good job, a real hoot.
Patricia Turner05/04/09
Too funny! I too love a good laugh, and you've certainly got a great touch for humor! Love it!
Eliza Evans 05/06/09
Huge grin! What fun!!

The doctor liked waxed floss. Mildred pretended to agree. Her purse happened to be gaping open and her unwaxed floss was about to spill out. I snapped her bag shut. It was the least I could do.

I think that bit just made my day! Totally creative and "feel good" ending.
Love it.
Great job .. and thanks!! :)
Beckie Stewart05/06/09
What a cute and delightful story on the topic. Loved it and the ending was fantastic.
Bryan Ridenour05/06/09
Very humorous...super read...well done.
Loren T. Lowery05/06/09
At first I thought I was on a ride with Thelma and Louise, but I enjoyed the company of these two ladies much more. The observations of the "patient" made in the doctor's presence were hilarious!
Joshua Janoski05/06/09
This is the kind of zany humor that I love. You are the queen of laughs, Betty. You put your characters into compromising (and always hilarious) situations. I loved how Mildred's choice in toothbrush and floss quickly changed in front of the doctor. Thanks for sharing this. :)
Myrna Noyes05/06/09
Loved the older ladies and think they'd be fun to take a trip with! :D I prefer soft-bristles myself, so I wouldn't have to worry about super-glue!! Fun story!
Loren T. Lowery05/07/09
: ) Congratulations, Betty. I see we were neck and neck on this one. I really enjoyed this even the second time around. Loren
Myrna Noyes05/07/09
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/07/09
Happy Dancin' with you for placing with this delightfully humorous entry.
Mariane Holbrook 05/07/09
Just the cutest,funniest thing! Just like you! No wonder you find yourself in the winner's circle so much. You're GOOD! And you're delightfully funny!
Love ya !
Charla Diehl 05/07/09
Congratulations on your EC placement with this fun and very entertaining story.