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Toothpaste Tube – Fragment #76

She is about to sit down at the kitchen table with the mug of coffee she just poured, when Colleen appears in the doorway, bed-headed and subtly hostile, waving a toothbrush in her right hand, a tube of toothpaste in her left. Audrey wonders what she has done now to annoy her roommate; she seems to rub Colleen the wrong way no matter what she says or does.

“Can I pour you a cup of coffee, Colleen, since you don’t seem to have a free hand,” Audrey remarks neutrally, hoping the amusement she feels about the apparition standing before her doesn’t bubble up into her voice.

Audrey wonders again why she decided to take her post-graduate degree in the States – who knew you could be so homesick in your mid-twenties. It didn’t help that she isn’t getting along with her roommate.

“No, you most certainly cannot. But maybe you can tell me why my toothpaste tube has French written on it.”

She nods her head at Colleen, after swallowing a large mouthful of coffee. “It’s because it’s my toothpaste, not yours.”

Now the woman’s hostile expression segues into anger mixed with a soupcon of puzzlement. “I’m Canadian,” Audrey tries to explain. “Any text is written in both English and French, our two national languages.”

It is too much for Colleen, Ph.D. candidate extraordinaire, to handle first thing in the morning. She makes this strange growling noise deep in her throat before leaving the room, and shouting over her shoulder, “Don’t let it happen again!”


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