Dear Aunt Bossy,
I have a horrible problem. A very dear friend of mine has chronic bad breath. I know he flosses and brushes his teeth, so it must be something else. What can I do? Someone needs to tell him because it is impacting his social and business life. Should I send an anonymous note? Help.
Rose the Nose
No note, please. That would be cruel. You know what else is cruel? Not letting him know.
It will take a lot of courage. For some reason, we humans treat having bad breath as a moral issue, which it certainly isn’t. I know that when my husband told me my breath smelled like wolf breath, I would respond as if he were denigrating my entire life and character, and throwing in a snide remark about my hair at the same time.
We all have bad breath once in a while, but for those of us for whom it is chronic, it is an enormous problem if no one tells us. We should also be aware that it is sometimes a sign of illness. In my case, it is often caused by stress. I am always humiliated when I find out, after the fact, that I was repulsing people all day.
So, do the gracious and kind thing: tell him. Try this: “Joe, you probably don’t realize it, but your breath is bad on a regular basis. I know you practice dental hygiene, so it must have another cause. You are dear to me and I think you should see a doctor or dentist to determine the cause.
If he reacts defensively, it’s ok, just ignore that. You just gave him a primal insult about his person. He’ll get over it. Maybe you should be certain you have lipstick on your teeth or a nice piece of spinach showing, to soften the blow.
In a social situation, where the person is not a dear friend, I’ve seen people use this approach successfully: “I think we could both use a breath mint.” You have to be prepared with a pack of mints to pull that one off.
In any case, it is difficult and touchy and you should do it anyway.
And, now, stop breathing through your mouth!
The Hate Habit
Dear Aunt Bossy,
This election? Help!
No politician will be able to change anything as long as there are people who assume the worst of everyone who disagrees with them, decide what the “truth” is by how they “feel” about it, and feel empowered by their own hate.
There is little more despicable than helping another person get addicted to drugs. I put encouraging others to hate right up there with that. Or down there with that. It can only suck out their souls.
I’m pretty tough, but it makes me sick.
Best, Aunt Bossy