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Friday, 15 July 2011

Breathing Space, Please..!

Do you recall that PK{a breath mint} TV ad that had this dude and his wife- to- be at the altar about to say their wedding  vows? At that heightened moment of anticipation, the dude reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out a fresh-mint chewing gum {or was it a kid who handed him the gum..Hmm.. ?if you are Kenyan im sure you know this ad} How about the Close Up tooth paste ads that had couples’ picture perfect moments turning out as such .You could even sense the love between the couples seeing that they were both so confident and at ease sitting facing each other in intimate posture.

Where am I going with this?

Well, this week, I ran into a long lost friend who literally took my breath away. I am sure you are thinking I was smitten by one of those drop-dead beauties from those Mexican Soaps you watch ever so religiously on telly every evening? On the contrary..You are so wrong!

The last time I saw this friend was some time in 2001.Do the Math.As fate would have it on it was on a sweltering afternoon in the streets of Nairobi and I was going about my usual day to day activities. From the corner of my eye I saw someone waving frantically. I did not give it much thought and I kept walking. Then I heard someone call my name. So I turned, and who do I see,…Monica*{not her real name for fear of victimization and a dented self esteem arising from the flow of this story…}.Ofcourse,I was taken aback, because the last time I saw her she was off to the U.S to study after we finished our Pre-Uni in 2001.

You would have thought she had just seen an A-List celebrity. She came hurrying towards me screaming,”OMG {name withheld}is it really you”5 times..!Yes...I counted because she was attracting the kind of attention I do not like especially in the streets of Nairobi. She was carrying one of those big bags that all Nairobi ladies carry nowadays.Nkt! The kind that the late marathoner Samuel Wanjiru’s mum brandished a machete from! Remember? She had on a long weave, a dress top and ¾ tights with high-heels on. She was looking great though. She came over and gave me an unexpected hug that felt like a choke-hold. I felt like WWE’s John Cena getting a tight belly-to-belly hold from Kane or the Undertaker before a ferocious choke slam! But I digress….

Monica*{again, not her real name due to reasons mentioned..} was the kind of chic that would turn heads when she came into a room, she had a killer smile and an infectious laughter. Apart from her loud mouth, she was well mannered and articulate. Unless of course being outside had changed her. But from her outward appearance, I could see she had maintained most of this attributes. Since I had not seen her for a while, I was keen to know what she had been up to only that I was in a hurry to catch up with lost time before close of business.

Long story, short, the ten or so minutes that I spent catching up with Monica* were the most unpleasant that I had had in a while, and I am not exaggerating! All I can recall is her telling me that she was in the U.S .until 2007 then she went to Canada for 2 years, came back to Kenya in 2010.She is in Events organizing and she was going for an appointment with a client. Being a loud-mouthed rambler, you can tell that the 10 minute conversation was more of a monologue. I added my two-cent worth of what I have been up to-vaguely-in two minutes out of the ten!

I am sure you must be wondering what the big deal is anyway.hmm…? Well, see, Monica* has what I choose to refer to as ‘foot in mouth disease’. In a more Anglo-scientific friendly term, she has Halitosis! This friends, is a severe case of bad breath!

What made this whole rendezvous unpleasant was not even her rambling that I can deal with considering the kind of people I interact with daily. It was the fact that she was doing this entire verbal diarrhea three centimeters from my nostrils! Maybe I missed out on the unwritten rule, but I have realized that the greatest halitonians-people who come from the planet where bad breath is acceptable-{I have just made that up, genius? }always insist on being in your face, literally.Even worse, you will find them chewing some gum. Woe unto you if you encounter the kind that will ‘fumigate’ you and ‘spray’ you with acidic sputum that somehow will end up landing on your lips…eeeeew! If you are following, by now you can tell by now that Monica* was this kind of halitonian.Every now and then I had to pretend that the sun was hot, then look up to the skies, handkerchief in hand,I’d wipe the spit off my face.

I usually maintain eye contact when I converse, but talking to Monica* I had to make an exception for the fear that my facial expressions and other involuntary non-verbal movements would sell out how uncomfortable I was. I had some tic-tacs in my blazer, but I felt it would be rude to offer her some. I resolved to  ...Mmmh’s, aaaah’s, really’s and oh,that’s great’s and just let fate take its course for that moment. You can’t imagine my relief when she was saying her goodbyes.

Monica* aside, I got thinking about this whole halitosis scenario. Can a halitonian know that their breath is kickin’? How do you politely tell them so ?and how ‘politely’ can you break it down to them? Or should we just ‘accept it’as is and continue to suffer in silence in their presence?
I would like to go on and on with possible solutions to this and have a medic, dentist or nutritionist offer their point of view {...Which I will the way.}. But let me elicit a reaction/experience. What is you say..?

The Scribe rests his pen.

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