If you don’t live under a rock, you’ve seen the commercials for toothpaste with either mouthwash flavoring or mouthwash “extracts”.  I’m not sure if it’s a combined product, or if they’re just trying to fool us into thinking it is by splashing the Scope logo on the box. 

In either case, it’s not working on me.  I don’t like mouthwash, don’t use mouthwash, and wouldn’t pick up a box of toothpaste with a Listerine or a Scope logo unless I had just eaten poop-flavored garlic onion pickled herring. 

Then we’re deluged by promises that our toothpaste (with or without mouthwash) will last all day, or 12 hours, or overnight, or through meals, or at least past the awkward meeting with the cute girl. 

Let’s back up to the premise here.  Why exactly are we supposed to have minty fresh breath in the first place?  Do parents holding their newborns for the first time breathe in that sweet baby smell and ask for a replacement that smells like mint?  Mint would not seem to be our default, would it?  Yet it is mind-bogglingly difficult to find a toothpaste without mint flavoring.  My dearest husband and sister both hate mint.  My sister suffers through it, but for Mr. Apron, we have discovered Tom’s of Maine orange-mango.  Sometimes even that is hard to find, and he ends up with the mango flavor in their kids’ line.  Because he is not partial to mint, and I’d like to encourage him to floss more (more than twice a year, that is), I try to purchase floss that is unflavored.  (Mr. Apron doesn’t like cinnamon floss – who would?  Why is floss cinnamon-flavored to begin with?)  There are times when I literally cannot find unflavored floss in the drug store.  When did the string we use to fish out bits of broccoli and popcorn necessarily become minty?  Why is mint the default?  The replacement for the naturally occurring mouth essence? 

I think all comes down to an insecurity.  We think we smell, and horribly at that.  Our feet, our crotches, our underarms, our mouths.  It’s not enough that we are marketed and sold products to ameliorate, mask, or neutralize our scents.  We don’t trust the products unless we can detect their proprietary scents.  They have to cover up any of our own humanity with “Vanilla Mint” or “Powder Fresh” or “Arctic Force” or “Pure Sport” or “Cherry Mischief”.  Worse, now they’re trying to convince us that our choice in deodorant scents is somehow linked to our mood or personality.  It’s a fricking zodiac, people.  If you’re feeling sassy, you’ll wear “Diva la Daisy”?  Really? 

My favorite “breath” is kissing my husband and tasting nothing but him.  My favorite “scent” is cozying up to him in bed, and smelling the spot by his collar bone that smells just like him.  Not mint, not “Zestfully clean”, not “fresh” because there is nothing in the world that smells like him.  When we were first dating, long-distance, he came out to my place for a few visits.  After his early-morning departure, I would roll onto his side of the bed and nuzzle into his pillow for just another whiff of him.  Not even Crest can bottle the power of lingering boyfriend-on-the-pillow.

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