Care For Some Gum?
You come home after an evening out and when you check the mirror, you see you have something stuck in your teeth. How long has it been there??? And why didn’t anyone say anything?!!
Perhaps your dinner companions were all drunk, or the joint was dark and no one noticed. Or were they just too embarrassed to say?
Why is it that we often find it so difficult to draw attention or make mention or these human foibles?
I was walking back from the restroom at a chic restaurant recently when someone grabbed my arm. I jumped in surprise. The waitress who had waylaid me whispered in my ear, “You have toilet paper stuck to your shoe!”
This doesn’t compare to what could have been one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. After a quick trip to the loo before lunch, I was waiting by the elevator when a woman sidled up rather close and started tugging at my clothes. What the?!?
“Your skirt is tucked into your pantyhose!” she said. I was about to make my way to an exceeding crowded lunchroom with my butt (underwear clad, but still) exposed to the entire staff. Now that would have been truly horrific. I couldn’t thank her enough.
Telling a stranger they have TP trailing behind them, or that they’ve tucked their skirt in their underpants seems like a no brainer. It costs us little to point out what is clearly a mistake. But enter the world of human hygiene and the rules shift. Somehow these social faux pas are our fault.
When it comes to boogers, bad breath or BO, most of us get downright Victorian. With the exception of immediate family, mentioning someone’s hygiene (or lack thereof) often feels too… what… impolite? Gauche? We get wrapped up in our own embarrassment and forget how the poor sod is going to feel when he comes home to spinach in his teeth.
I think the degree of difficultly in pointing these things out is directly related a) your relationship with the “offender” and b) the ease of the solution. A stick of gum, a Kleenex, a mirror… all of these can address the issue quickly and no one needs to feel awkward, at least not for long. But with body odour, what are you going to do? Hand over a stick of deodorant?
I’m not suggesting taking a hardline approach and highlighting every whiff of coffee breath. But I do think we could do a better job of overcoming our own awkwardness to help out a friend, if not a stranger. So if you see something hanging out of my nose, please do me the kindness of pointing it out.
Top photo: Just Juice