Last night I had a scintillating conversation with Xavier, a friend from the United States whom I hadn’t seen in a little more than a year. Over multiple whiscolas we talked about our respective romantic states, his love life and mine — and more specifically, my lack of one at the moment.
Somehow the conversation turned to physical deal breakers. I don’t have many. I’ve never been someone to fall over and over for a specific type. And I’m generally not drawn to Don Juan or the sexiest man alive. Physically, the various guys I’ve dated have nothing in common, and for the most part, they aren’t necessarily people who would stop traffic on the street, although, I, for my own reasons, found them all attractive and sexy.
But back to those deal breakers. I only have two: bad (or missing) teeth and bad breath. The former I could possibly live with. The latter is simply unacceptable. For me, bad breath is the biggest turn-off imaginable. I have gone out with guys who were perfect in almost every way, but when they got too close, I had to hold my breath until I was blue in the face. Others have lasted way past their expiration date for the opposite reason. Why? Because fresh breath is so hard to find. This is something my last boyfriend, unexpectedly, had in his favor. I don’t know how he did it. He was a smoker, but in the five times I saw him, I never once had to hold my breath.
Sometimes I think my hang up on this is a bit unnatural. In fact, the minute I meet someone, and they lean in for the cheek kiss, I get butterflies, for fear that I may get a whiff of something other than cologne or perfume. And I’m not just hard on other people. In college, my friends used to make fun of me because I spent at least 15 minutes brushing my teeth several times a day. Over the years, this has been the one constant ritual in my life.
And another thing: I’m not big on breath mints and other methods of masking odor (although non-alcoholic mouth wash — Thera Breath, which, unfortunately, is not available outside of the U.S., is my favorite — is perfectly acceptable, recommended even). I like my breath naturally fresh, the way God intended it to be.
Xavier somehow spun my good breath/teeth obsession into my being too hung up on physical beauty and even suggested that it would be shallow of me to dismiss a guy for falling short in the dental hygiene department.
Utter nonsense, I say.
Let us now consider taste, likes and dislikes. There are certain foods that we won’t eat. There are certain movies that we’d prefer not to see. There are certain songs we don’t want to listen to. There are certain places we don’t want to go to. There are even certain people whom we don’t want to be around. So why is it that the minute we start weeding out potential romantic matches based on undesirable physical traits, we are deemed shallow or too hung up on looks?
When I think of the perfect guy, he’s not short, or fat, with thin lips, beady eyes and bad hair. But I can certainly imagine dating a guy with any of these individual qualities. Even a missing tooth can slip by me. But if I have to hold my breath every time he opens his mouth to speak — or to kiss me…