Posted by: Kate | September 23, 2008


It came on so gradually, I hardly know how it began.  I didn’t even notice for a few years, and then it took a few more years to openly acknowledge it.  But now it’s out and accepted, both of us know, and we’re doing what we can to manage the situation properly.

I’m referring, of course, to the ongoing Toothpaste War at my house.  Willem and I have a competition going to see who can squeeze out the very last drop from the toothpaste tube, and who folds like a cheap lawn chair, collapses under the pressure, defeatedly goes to the cabinet to start a new tube.

For a while, we each had our own little private victories, not realizing that the other person was playing the same unannounced game.  Several months ago, during one of our rounds of completely random up-too-late conversation, one of us admitted to it, the other laughed and agreed, and now the challenge is known and taken up by both.  Though we still don’t point it out when the current tube of toothpaste is getting down near empty; that’s part of the game, psyching out the opponent, playing it cool, keeping a poker face.

This time around, I won.  Oh, yes.  He ran for the cupboard like a little girl fleeing from a rabid dog, and I stood victorious, having eked out the very last collection of toothpaste molecules from the old tube.

(Part of the as-yet-unofficial but still understood rules is that you have to squeeze out enough to satisfactorily brush your teeth, no skipping nights or skimping on the night’s hygiene.  We’re not sacrificing dental health for the sake of marital competition.  …Not yet, anyway.)

Each time, the loser allows the other a brief moment to gloat, and then we move on to other things, until the next tube starts to become dangerously thin.

It’s the little things that bring spice to the relationship, don’t you think?  Although this is decidedly one of the weird, little-used spices, like marjoram or whole cloves.  Something that sits in the back of the cupboard, unopened, but not thrown out.

Where do you find your little victories?  We can’t be the only ones with goofy competitions.



  1. Oh wow! We have sort of an opposite “competition” if you will. My husband starts to get twitchy when an item is in the sweet spot of between half and three quarters empty. It’s at this point that I’ll find a 1/3 full jam jar in the fridge door right next to one that’s just been opened. Same goes for the toothpaste, milk, even toilet paper. He’ll pull out a new roll and put it on the counter before the current roll is spent. *sigh*

  2. I KNEW there were other couples with these competitions!

    On the drive to our friend Jason’s place, we pass a lumber yard called Smoot Lumber. Aside from the total silliness of that name, our private competition is to be the first to say “Smoot Lumber” every time we drive by. You have to wait until the sign is in full view, or else it doesn’t count.

    Also, since we got the new car with a remote control alarm, when we drive somewhere together, there’s always a contest to see who can lock the car first. So there’s always fumbling in pockets and purses to find the keyfob whenever we arrive somewhere.

  3. Have I blogged about the couple of days when Eric kept replacing the new toilet paper with almost-done or done rolls? He wanted to see how many times I’d replace it without knowing. I wouldn’t have known, in fact, if he hadn’t collapsed in giggles at one of my grouchings. Twerp.

  4. We do the exact same thing.

  5. I think we get to the same competition as well whn the tube nears the end because I REFUSE to be the wimp and not beable to squeeze another drop out-Steve being stronger can definitely get more out than me (I have found ways of really milking it by nearly laying on it on the bathroom counter. 😉

  6. For us, it’s the thermostat. I don’t like to be hot and my husband doesn’t like to be cold so all during the day, and especially just before bedtime, the thermostat dial gets surreptitiously moved. It stays there until one or the other senses the difference in temperature.
    Thanks for your “Victorious” blog. I thought we had the only crazy competition going. Now, at least I know we’re not alone.

  7. I just threw out a sickeningly empty tube of toothpaste and fetched a new tube.

    But then discovered that Frank had already fetched a new tube (for some reason we have like four backup tubes of toothpaste) but didn’t throw the old tube out. I think he was clinging to hope, like a baseball fan who stays at a game, despite cold weather and drizzle and their team being down by seven going into the ninth inning because, after all, anything can happen.

    The only thing I can really think of isn’t really a competition but just something I do to annoy him. He’s a bit anal about semi-soft stuff in containers — butter, ice cream, peanut butter, stuff like that. When he dispenses some, he doesn’t gouge into the surface and just get himself a big hunk, he scrapes off the top, in order to maintain a serene, flat, neat surface. I dig with with abandon. He does his best to correct the mess I made and restore the serene vista of sorbet. Once I discovered he was trying to ‘clean up after me’ I only purposefully make a bigger mess of the container. 😀

  8. We don’t have any little competitions like that. Our big thing is to do little things to annoy each other. And I mean little. Nothing to cause anger – just laughter. My thing is to leave the air conditioning on when I shut off the car. Makes Shane crazy when he gets into my car and sees that the air is still on. His is to flick rubber bands at me when I’m not paying attention (he always seems to have a few on his wrists when he comes home from work – don’t know why).

  9. So do you and Willem squeeze the toothpast from the same spot? I am a bottom squeezer where Steve grabs and squeezes at the same time. Therefore I MUST fix the toothpaste after each of his uses. I lay the tube down and carefully smooth out the bottom pushing the paste up-then I fold it. Though each time Steve gets his turn the folds all come undone. He used to make fun of me when we first got married, after about a year he never commented on it again however it looks like he goes and attacks the tube, kind of like Lisa and the Sorbets, Peanut butter and such.

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