Hear ye, hear ye. I think we need a declaration that sets a universal movement that signals the presence of bad breath. It is a touchy subject. A very personal but public thing that we ourselves have had, or had forced upon our sense of smell at one time or another. Do you think it is worse to have bad breath or to be on the receiving end of it? Neither is optimal, but what exactly is the best way to deal with the fact that the person you are talking to has consumed something that is unleashed your way via talking. That, bowl me over, make my eyes water, can’t back away fast enough emergence of air that assaults your nose.
Unless you are a hermit, you get a lot of air spilled your way daily by talking to other humans. It would be such a relief to be able to make a gesture that everyone knew, to let your conversational mate know that they need a mint, gum, or jack hammer and a pick to remove whatever is causing the sour air. I have learned that when someone offers me a piece of gum or a Tic Tac they might not just be being nice, but trying to tell me something. So with that in mind I always accept the offer with a smile. Conversely I have tried to offer gum to a few foul air makers. Some accept, thankfully. But what do you do with the ones that say no to your offer. Is it then time to say, “Hey, your garlic bread and spaghetti from last night has followed you to a new day?” Is that too subtle? You could just say, “Excuse me while I go to the eye doctor to see if he can fix my eyes, your breath seems to have melted them?” That might be too far the other way.
In the movie The Sting the grifters would swipe the side of their nose with a finger towards each other to signal their acknowledgment of a piece of information. So that method is out. (You touched your nose didn’t you—me too.) Sam Spade would run his hand along the brim of his hat to get “the dame’s” attention. I don’t know many people who always have a felt fedora atop their head so that too is out.
After much, okay maybe a bit too much thought, I deem that we wrinkle our noses during conversation to signal, “PU Bud, you need a trip to the mouthwash bottle and spit sink.” From this day forward that could be the official “signal” that you are belting out a green cloud towards the person you are talking to. So you have to pay attention to the face. Is it smiling? Turning blue with asphyxiation? Or did you see the nose wrinkle, just a touch? Maybe wrinkle twice, or thrice or…
Let’s face it there really is no easy way to handle this. The direct approach, as in many things in life, would be the best. But—let’s just say you’re talking to someone and they wrinkle their nose. Just a slight wrinkle, let’s not look like we are a herd of rabbits. It could work! Try it in front of a mirror. Yes I tried it before writing to see if it could be done discretely. It can. Actually looks cute, in a bunny kind of way.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and opinions with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.