Publication Date (format: mm/dd/yy): 09/28/13
I place the blame on a former co-worker — we’ll call him Skippy — for making me blind to toilet paper on the shoe, to the unzipped fly and to deodorant stains.
Skippy was, and probably still is, a great guy. He was always cheerful and happy to help, but as nice as he was he was also a walking disaster. Skippy was the guy who would show up to work and look exactly like the kid in Grade 3 who went to bed with wet hair the night before picture day and raced out the door before his mom could tackle him with a comb and a palm full of hair gel.
Skippy was exactly like that kid in Grade 3, except he had a beard.
On Monday, Skippy would show up to work with mustard running down the front of his wrinkled golf shirt. Tuesday, there would be toothpaste smeared in his facial hair. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the fly would be open, and pretty much every day his shoes were untied.
When we first began working together, I’d try to help him out:
“Skippy, your barn door’s open!”
“Skippy, wash your face!”
“Skippy, if you tied your shoes you wouldn’t trip and fall so much!”
“Skippy . . . oh, never mind.”
After a few months of working together Skippy got the best of me. I stopped noticing the toothpaste, the mustard stains and the messy hair. I had become conditioned to his determined dishevelment.
So when my best friend came to a dinner party last week, I failed her. Broccoli had been on the menu and she happily partook. After dinner we got up and she came into the kitchen and helped clear plates. We chatted over the sink — I washed and she dried — we laughed and finished off a bottle of wine.
And while we chatted I noticed the leafy green, saw how it made a home in her pearly whites, and I said nothing. I gabbed away, occasionally staring at the offending vegetable and I didn’t breathe a word.
Friends do not let friends saunter around with broccoli teeth. When you’re out with friends it’s important to have a broccoli buddy just for this reason. Heck, even strangers are kind enough to offer up some minty floss, and yet I let my best friend dangle in the wind.
Eventually, thanks in part to the wine, she wandered to the bathroom and caught a glimpse of green between her otherwise perfect teeth. Stomping back to the kitchen she informed me of my friend fail, at which point I humbly offered an apology (and another drink).
And then I blamed Skippy, who inured me to the sight of such slovenliness.
“But your pants are done up! Your hair looks perfect! You’re stain and wrinkle free! You look amazing . . . otherwise!”
Sure I protested, but the fault was mine. I was an unreliable broccoli buddy and the worst kind of friend.
Danna Bach is the special publications editor. Follow her on Twitter, @DannaBach.