From all this Covid-19 higi-haga, crinkum-crankum as Hon Fred Mukasa Mbidde would say, we should at least be thankful for face masks.
What we had failed to honestly address for fear of offending, the mask has rudely screamed: bad breath.
Haven’t you encountered someone with breath so bad you said a silent prayer for his or her spouse? The kind of bad breath, where someone speaks from the doorway and manages to replace all the fresh air in the room with a terrible odour within seconds.
Well, welcome to the season of masks. Long live these glass-fogging, makeup-smudging contraptions!
I now look at some people I know with trademark bad breath – not because they suffer from anything serious, but poor toothbrush habits – and smile smugly when I see their noses under a mask.
Look, sometimes the demands on one’s spouse are just unrealistic; if you cannot whisper your sweet-somethings without your spouse gagging (unless you keep the whispers strictly to phone calls) how do you expect them to respond genuinely to your lovemaking? By wearing a gas mask to bed, maybe?
Have you smelled your breath behind that mask? How can your spouse not come up with excuse after excuse to avoid sex?
By the way, poor brushing habits are not limited to penniless, village folks. Even in cities where people can afford the cheapest toothpaste, there are real hygiene issues. One wife said her teeth hurt when she uses toothpaste; so, she simply rinses with water every morning.
A husband in Kampala reportedly has the habit of leaving home without brushing on some days, and nothing his wife says can change his mind when he is in that funk.
So, we set ourselves up for failure at the workplace (because no one wants to hear your great ideas when your bad breath keeps getting in the way); set ourselves up for sexless marriages (because of jumping into bed – beer gut, coffee breath, fermented meal scraps and all – without brushing first); set ourselves up for isolation, because face to-face conversation for even a minute is impossible without hitting the other person full-force with the hot, dump smell.
Thank you, masks! I know some are already switching things up hygiene-wise, because we are selfish beings, naturally; no one can smell one’s own foul breath and not do something about it. Many Ugandans have never been to a dentist for check-up, unless they have a toothache, but ideally we should be visiting a dentist every six months – pain or no pain.
Well, now you have to endure your own ‘sweetness’ behind that mask and finally address the ugly, gloomy elephant in your bedroom, in order for the pink, bubbly ones to come back.
If you have noticed a positive change in your spouse’s breath next time they try to give you a hickey, thank the mask. Poor brushing technique, drinking coffee, alcohol and tobacco smoking, among other dietary choices, contribute to bad breath; if you love any of those things, take extra care of your dental hygiene. Sometimes, it is your gut that needs cleansing. Peppermint (mujaaja), for example, is said to do that effectively.
Otherwise, don’t demand for hot kisses where none can be given without the risk of passing out. Brush well after meals and at bedtime. Also, there are special products (toothpaste and brushes) for lovers of coffee and smoking, to mitigate bad breath and stains.
As for the women who smoke pipes for whatever mystical beliefs, the telltale signs are in the horrendous smell that emanates from your mouth every time you open it.
Isn’t it an irony that one lights a pipe to persuade the gods to ‘capture one’s husband’s wandering heart’, but only succeeds in making that heart wander faster and farther, because of the mouth that now smells like a mousetrap, which was not emptied of its catch!
Wear that mask all the way over your nose and smell what your spouse and the world usually endure. Now, fix it.