Put a cap on it

FI-Joe-PisaniWhen the recent derailment canceled Metro-North train service, I stayed at my daughter’s apartment so it would be easier to get to work in the city. And what I discovered there was almost too much for one man to bear.

You see, that first night, as I was about to brush my teeth, I made an amazing discovery when I opened the medicine cabinet. And when I did  I realized how little we know about our family members.

I was angry. I was shocked. I realized medicine cabinets are the portals to the soul of humanity.

OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but this was a rather impactful moment on me.

First, let me state unequivocally that I’m not one of those people who when invited to stay at another person’s house repays the kindness by rifling through the medicine cabinet in search of embarrassing little secrets I can reveal on Twitter. Instead, I’ll rifle through your medicine cabinet for a higher, more profound purpose.

Frankly, I don’t care what kind of pills you take or what kinky delights you have hidden there. My interests are purely clinical.

And on this particular night when I opened the medicine cabinet, I made a momentous discovery … the toothpaste tube was capped.

Now this might not seem like such an earth-shaking revelation, but it struck me like a lightning bolt. It was sort of like learning your spouse is leading a double life as homemaker by day and CIA assassin by night — or worse, a Vegas pole dancer.

This was a daughter who during the 25 years she lived at home NEVER capped the toothpaste and every morning it would be dribbling out of the tube onto pill bottles and pimple cream. When I was getting ready for work, I’d rake it up with my toothbrush, which is neither pleasant nor hygienic.

Then, I would shatter the morning silence with my angry and desperate screams of “Why is it so *#?!**@#% hard to cap the toothpaste??!!? Am I living with a bunch of barbarians?” The neighbors, I’m sure, were entertained.

So, because I consider myself a proactive problem-solver, I began buying toothpaste that had the cap attached to the tube, so all you had to do was snap it shut. How hard could that be? But it made no difference. It was still dribble dribble.

However, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me, kids change when they leave home. So this same daughter has learned to cap the toothpaste … even though she still leaves the cap off the tube when she visits us.

Why is that? Is she so accustomed to having her mother pick up after her? Is she getting back at me for not letting her attend the Fashion Institute? Whatever reason, I got my sweet revenge for the years of indignity I suffered. I brushed my teeth and then hid the cap. I considered smearing toothpaste on the mirror that said, “REVENGE AT LAST!” But that was too declassé even for me.

Another daughter, who shall go unnamed, is about to get married. She and her fiancé got a beautiful apartment with high ceilings and brick walls and, as they were fantasizing about their new life in their new home, she told him, “We’re not putting the heat on until December! We’ll wear sweaters.”

Clearly she has my genes and even though I never made my family wait until December to turn on the furnace, there were many times I considered locking the thermostat because this daughter, along with the toothpaste culprit, had a tendency to crank up the heat to 76 even before summer officially ended.

“Put on a darn sweater!” I’d yell as I lowered the thermostat to 68. But once I went to bed, they’d creep downstairs and raise it so high that by morning my throat felt as parched as Death Valley.

From these personal experiences, I’ve concluded that your children’s behavior changes when they go out on their own. They become instant experts, they become know-it-alls.

Suddenly, they have all the answers, even if they’re the wrong ones.


Joe Pisani may be reached at [email protected]

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