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Friday, April 24, 2009

A Tale of Dentifrice

Though I have no statistical data to back up my assertion, (it's never stopped me before), I'm going to go out on a probably not very precarious limb and say that many people in this country like mint.

I say that because, if you go toothpaste shopping, you will find approximately forty-seven variations on the mint theme. There's


Cool Mint,

Fresh Mint,

Vanilla Mint,

Extreme Herbal Mint,

Spry Cool Mint

Clean Mint,

Classic Mint,

Original Strong Mint,

Classic Strong Mint,

Creme De Mint,

Brisk Mint,

Organic Mint,

Cinnamon Mint,

Aquatic Mint,

Tea Tree Oil Mint,

Minwax Floor & Furniture Varnish Mint,

Castrol GTX Low Viscocity Mint,

KY Feminine Lubricant Eucalyptus Mint.

You get the idea. People like them their minty freshness.

Well, as we've established countless times by now, I am not like other people. I can't stand mint. I don't want mint julips or tulips, I don't like it on lamb or ham-- I do not like it here or there....

For years as a child I struggled with the requirements of brushing teeth. Most children, I think, struggle with this. This is why God invented sparkly toothpaste and Stone Cold Steve Austin toothbrushes. Because I knew I could not fight my parents (my mother would do spot "breath tests," like a police officer at a DUI checkpoint) I resigned myself to a life of twice daily toothbrushing.

For approximately four seconds a session.

Apparently, this is enough to do the trick. My wife will roll her eyes and punch a hole in the wall when she reads this, but I haven't had a single cavity my whole life-- in spite of a mother with at least a dozen fillings and a father who can, and does, play Jacks with his teeth on the dining room table.

As an adult, I still only brush my teeth for four seconds a session, but I realized that I no longer had to suffer the indignities of using a Crest or Colgate product I despised-- I could shell out three more dollars a tube for some bullshit, hippy-dippy toothpaste with a different, more palatable flavor. Tom's of Maine makes a mango and orange toothpaste, which is usually available at Whole Foods and other overpriced, feel good about yourself establishments. I wouldn't say that my toothbrushing experience is now a sun-filled jubilatory experience-- but it's probably increased to maybe six or seven seconds a session.

I wasn't thrilled about the price hit I was forced to take, simply for hating mint. Why should I be penalized for having tastes that differ from the norm? Wasn't I punished enough for that malfeasance in middle and high school? Nevertheless, I dutifully paid my five dollars a tube for my orange mango paste. However, yesterday at Whole Foods, Tom's of Maine Orange Mango paste was nary to be found.

"Oh, fuck," I moaned-- apparently audibly-- as a young mom noticeably pulled her young daughter over to the next aisle. All of the other stupid Tom's of Maine flavors were there, and they were all on sale for $4.49 a tube. Cinnamon? Hmmm.... I was dubious. I like cinnamon in Snickerdoodles and in apple pie, but cinnamon toothpaste was a dangerous choice: back in the '80s, my mother was a habitual user of a vile cinnamon-flavored toothpaste and mouthwash called "Viadent" and I used to scream and howl when she would kiss me goodbye before the schoolbus came when she had used it.

"NO VIADENT KISSES! AUAAAUUUUGGH!" I would yell to the assured bemusement of our neighbors. They probably thought I was being tortued by some escaped Nazi dentist.

Then, I nearly reached for the fennel-flavored paste. I thought to myself: fennel? Do I want to be that guy? No, I decided. So, what did I pick?

Lemon-flavored toothpaste, for $6.69. By a company called "Homeodent."

"Homeodent?!" my wife gasped in between breathless cackles. "That's gay!"

As frustrating and disappointing as my shopping experience had been, two things, though, were solidified after I brushed my teeth last night.

I picked the right toothpaste, and the right wife.


  1. Friend, did you stand in the toothpaste aisle with a notebook to capture all those variations of mint? I would recommend Batman Bubble Gum flavor.

  2. I agree with you -- it does taste like warm Rita's -- but doesn't leave you with that "just brushed my teeth" feeling. Whether or not that's a good thing, you decide. But I won't shirk from your Homeodent kisses.


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