Based on a true story…
It was so nice to see you the other day. We went for coffee at our favorite spot, you know the place with all the aproned baristas and the goodly smells? Of course you do, it’s your favorite. As we sat there, we spoke of life and friendship things, Instagram and philosophy. We sipped coffee. I said a joke and you laughed. Ok, maybe you smiled. And then I noticed something stuck in your teeth. I couldn’t tell what it was, it was so quick, so I said another joke to get you to smile again. It was a good one, and it definitely made you laugh this time, I’m sure of it. Because I caught a good look that time. It was brownish, like the mortar paste of a chewed peanut. Or maybe the remnants of a recently enjoyed cookie. Then, shame paralyzed me, and I did not do my duty. I did not notify you of the food debris lodged in your tooth crevice. I was cowardly. You were jamming off my joke, and I smiled appreciatively, but I kept my lips shut. I was running my tongue over my teeth self-consciously, just in case I had something, too. See, I was gearing up to tell you, but I couldn’t. Something about it was too weird. What was this awkwardness? It’s akin to the awkwardness that causes two friends to ignore a tiny projectile of saliva that might launch from one’s mouth in the course of talking. Both conversants simply ignore it: the spitter mortified, and the spat-upon sparing his friend embarrassment.
Dear friend, I want you to know that while my motivations were not so noble, they were not ignoble either. I fervently hoped that each swish of coffee you drank would flush that stubborn crumb down your hatch, but it was not to be. The minutes dragged on, and the conversation lulled, and you yawned theatrically to signal the passing time, and the brown crumblet was still there. Dear friend, you must know that I was sure you’d soon encounter a mirror, and discover the offensive food particle on your own. As we stood up to leave, you wished me a good rest of my day, and there it was still, clinging fiercely to your gums. I returned the sentiment, but I knew my goodwill was lacking. Guilt tainted my words, but you did not notice. “Let’s do this again sometime,” you said, and I nodded meekly. I would still like that.