A light-hearted tribute to the courage, bravery and courageous bravery of blogger Jenny Trout and her recent piece for the venerable Huffington Post “I Wore A Bikini and Nothing Happened.” Cheers, Jenny, for your brave courage in standing up for your rights against common perceptions of aesthetics, gender issues and health.
During my yearly Firefly cosplay sober New Year’s party, I decided to do something that some people thought was a little quirky, a little strange and really wild. By wild, I mean provocative. We’re talking, “Get the attention over here, guys! Me time!” It went a little somethin’ … like this:
Me: (gargling soda) “I’m going to go until summer without brushing my teeth.”
Them: (over their shoulders, realizing suddenly I was in the room with them) “Who are you?”
Me: “No, seriously, guys. I’m not going to brush my teeth for a whole six months! I mean, I’m my own man and I can prove I can do whatever I want, no matter what! Damn all conventions!”
Them: Turning back to the TV.
I didn’t get why they didn’t all start cheering me on and applauding. I was doing something really defiant and special, and no one even bothered to say, “Good job.” Not one solitary pat on the head for my ingenuity and iconoclasm. Even the two girls who were there didn’t seem to care that, as a dude, I was planning on actually making my mouth look, smell and taste horrendous just to show I am my own person.
I realized the real problem was that no one I know (all six of whom were in that basement with me that night) could be straight with me and admit that what I was doing was so extravagant that it deserved their immediate attention.
Sure, later on in the evening when everyone went back home to their parents’ place at around 10:30, there was one or two mentions in passing about the usual health mingle-mangle that a few more folks would bring up when I started wearing t-shirts and hats with my new website name “I’m Not Gonna Brush My Teeth” emblazoned on them at the coffee shop where I work three days a week. Gingivitis, tooth decay, periodontitis, tooth discoloring and tooth loss deffffinitely came up more than once. But, such statements just made me so grateful I have people in my life who care about me that much to “warn” me, even if they don’t usually seem to care about much else I do.
Abruptly moving on from any concerns of health risks concerning my wild plan, I started thinking about what some of the ladies in my life — the waitresses I like to talk to at the local diner I go to sometimes — would think about what I was doing. Sure, guys can be cruel too, but let’s face facts: We’re living in a world where women just don’t want to be around a guy who doesn’t clean his teeth regularly. Then I realized, “You know what? If a girl doesn’t want to be around me because of halitosis, she’s not the kind of girl I should be around anyway!” Her loss, right, guys?
Finally, a few months into the game, I noticed, while a tooth was falling out of my mouth, that this really had nothing to do with said tooth falling out at all. Nope! It was really about how people saw my tooth falling out of my mouth, what they thought about my tooth falling out. Now that we’re living in 2014, it’s important to remember that dental health has nothing to do with you but about how your dental health is perceived by other people. That’s what counts most.
So, here I was six months later, gums-a-bleedin’ like my Aunt Flo (j/k!!) and four less teeth than I had when I started this kwaaayzy adventure of independence and self-confidence building that I knew would eventually be an inspiration to others who worry they need to take care of their teeth just because we live in a maternal society that thinks it needs to totally mother you all the time, even to the point of your own dang-blang mouth.
Nothing happened. Wherever I went, opening my stinky mouth filled to the brim with goop and gop, spitting up god-knows-what onto the ground wherever I went, no one even turned to notice. Sure, I was a little disappointed that, after all this toil and labor, I still had no one who was really giving me any attention or pats on the back about my rage against the machine, so to speak. Aside from those discouraging (yet thoughtful, sure!) work colleagues or bums on the street I talk to when I get lonely prattling on and on about the dangers of dental neglect.
I came to discover the truth: Which is that regardless of how progressive everyone may seem these days, we’re still living in a society that so can’t handle a young man who wants to throw caution to the wind when it comes to the care (or lack thereof, if he so chooses) of his own mouth, that they can’t even look when tries shoving his gruesome maw into their face while they’re eating pie at Denny’s.
Until we can finally admit to ourselves that ignoring people who may choose to eschew common sense and centuries of scientific understanding when it comes to dental practicalities is really more about the way some women still treat us “losers” like they did back in high school like when a certain girl named Jessica Thompson wouldn’t go to the Prom with me just because I didn’t have enough money for a car or the right kind of toothpaste, and less about personal responsibility when it comes to taking care of oneself, we’ll none of us ever be truly progressive or free.
Here I am, right now as I write this, losing feeling in my tongue, and knowing that it doesn’t matter because, you know what? I feel good about myself. And you can, too!