You can tell a lot by the size of his toothpaste

You+can+tell+a+lot+by+the+size+of+his+toothpaste

Owen McGonigle

In a city as filled with tourists as New York, it’s sometimes hard to tell when someone is staying, or merely passing through.  In the world of dating, this all still applies.  One minute, your Tinder match is five miles up the A C E line, and the next, they are approximately 1,462 miles away.  Most times, you sadly watch this transition happen, and ponder on the slight “what could have been’s”.  In some cases, mainly when you are desperate enough for some form of attention, you meet up with the person. 

I heard of the story from my friend Ariel, who was the queen of balancing a well-versed sex life, with a hefty load of academic work.  Additionally, Ariel was not afraid to take control of the situation.  Toxic dominant masculinity?  She did not know him!  Quite literally being my opposite, the two of us reconnected over brunch at a local spot in the Lower East Side.

“Remember Lawrence?” She asked, as she reached for the metal straw in her iced coffee.  (Yes, it was one of those places).  A large gulp indicated that the story ahead was one that Ariel needed a great sense of preparation for.

“Cute guy from Havana Central?”  I asked, to which Ariel nodded, her mouth reaching for another sip.  But her wide eyes lit with the confirmation of his identity.

“So I went to his apartment the other night,” she continued, and with a clearing of her throat which was obviously ready for the monologue ahead.  I sighed, but knew that the inner columnist in me would love to exploit this later in my career.

Lawrence was a 24-year-old Londoner sent to Manhattan by his up and coming, yet obscenely wealthy, tech company, to spearhead their new office in Midtown.  Merely having been in New York for a little less than a month, Lawrence had scored himself a rent-controlled one-bedroom in the center of Hell’s Kitchen.  After a three hour evening class that allowed Ariel to fantasize about the perfect date, she agreed to accompany Lawrence to one of Hell’s Kitchen’s newest Cuban tapas restaurants. 

Havana Central was quite literally a trendy hole in the wall.  The entirety of the space was practically 20 feet wide, and still managed to have rows of table, and a fully-stacked bar along a portion of the wall.  And in the corner of the room, tucked away with fake palm trees and dim lighting, Lawrence and Ariel sat for their first encounter.

Besides the fact that Lawrence was a Type A cute guy, with clear skin, a defined jaw, and loads of hair, his ability to spark and hold conversations latched Ariel within seconds.

“These are such good empanadas,” Lawrence remarked, as he reached for a small nibble of the corner of the already mini-sized appetizer.  Ariel, who was too busy staring into his sapphire eyes, forgot to respond.  Instead, she fumbled over her own breath.

“Oh yeah,” she replied, as she hoped that she didn’t appear to be uninterested.  The reality was that she was very interested, so much so that she had forgotten to eat and appreciate the empanadas ahead of her.

As the night progressed, Lawrence willingly paid for the check, and took the complementary drinks being offered.  Just when Ariel thought the night couldn’t get any better, and that she had had the best first date of her life, Lawrence popped the question:

“Do you wanna come back to my place?” He asked, as Ariel completely stopped in her track.  She thought to herself: was it too early to go home with the guy?  But, as singles in New York, did we have a set time that which it became appropriate to go home with a guy you were trying to date?  Was it similar to the unspoken time period that needed to pass before we uttered those three burdened words: I love you.

Ariel decided to push these thoughts aside, and found herself in the elevator of an expensive ass apartment building.  Used to the life of cheaper university dorms, Ariel found herself a bit out of place, but tried her best to to play the act.  And as they entered his own apartment, 15B, Ariel found it harder to keep it up.  The place was gorgeous: floor to ceiling windows, high ceilings, renovated kitchen, and all.

“You can afford all this?” She let slip, and had to just roll with the question that possibly released her financial status.  Lawrence merely shrugged.

“My company pays for it,” he remarked, “Came furnished.  I’ll be here until they need me to come back.”  Oh, Ariel thought, He’s gonna have to go back.

“Oh,” she replied, without any form of genuine enthusiasm in her tone, “That’s cool.”  But Ariel’s somber attitude was swiftly alleviated by the soft smile that which stretched across Lawrence’s face.  And as she glanced downward, and was left to wonder about what lied behind the denim, she accepted the unspoken invitation into the bedroom.

A few pulls at her skirt later, Ariel excused herself to the bathroom.  She stumbled past his tossed away clothes, the other remnants of the room of a straight male, and found herself in an extremely lit, and modern bathroom.  (“There was a steam shower!” Ariel remarked.). But there was something beyond the steam shower that caught her attention.  Something so dire and changing to their relationship dynamic, that Ariel could not ignore.

“He used travel-sized toothpaste,” she remarked, with a sense of genuine horror that I had never heard before from her.  Her eyes, already wide in size, widened in fear.  The anxiety rising inside my chest alleviated into a swift emptiness of unexplained confusion.

“Oh,” I replied, truly not knowing how to go about the fact that maybe the guy didn’t feel like splurging on the full-size.

“You don’t get it,” she continued, as her voice continued to raise past the socially-acceptable limits of being in a public restaurant, “Travel-sized toothpaste. He couldn’t even commit to a kind of toothpaste, so how was he going to be able to commit to me?”  Still, I sat baffled.  I found my iced coffee to be the only escape from the intense fear of Ariel across me.

“Well, isn’t he going back to London soon anyway?” I asked, to which Ariel furiously nodded.

“Apparently if he goes back, it would only be for a little bit, and then he’d return,” she explained, “But even still… I don’t think he’d be able to actually commit to me…”  I met her statement with a heavy silence.  Not because I didn’t want to reply to her, but it was one of those situations that I truly didn’t know what to say.  I was an outsider to the relationship, and one that was new on top of that.  I didn’t really have the jurisdiction to make statements on their state of being.

“So did you hook up with him anyway?” I asked, as I lowered my voice to sustain her privacy among the other brunch-goers.

“Yes!” She exclaimed, as she sighed outward, and flung her face into her palms, “It was so nice.”  Ariel let herself rest on her hands, and couldn’t find the effort or dignity to lift herself.

In her silence, I was left to wonder: if we could buy our essentials in a travel-size, could we spark travel-sized relationships?  If we knew a relationship would not be able to last in the long run, could we still go for it, knowing that our imminent demise was in the near future?  Evidently hook ups could work in this fashion, but there was an even more confusing question at hand.  In 2019, could we fall in love for a short period of time? 

No matter the answer, I had a feeling that Ariel was only looking to buy in bulk.