For years, okay, decades, I just didn’t know how to ask women about stuff like their appearance (or even worse, make recommendations). Are you kidding me? I even had crummy results paying women compliments even though, as a kid, Eddie Haskell was my idol. Maybe the Mrs. Cleaver approach only worked on black and white TV or with your best friend’s mom (and it’s kind of creepy always practicing on your best friend’s mom.)
My experiences usually went something like this: “Mrs. Cleaver, your hair really looks nice today.” “Thanks, Von Bulow. I guess yesterday I looked like a clown.”
Up until I went away to learn some special verbal skills, my inner George Costanza always steered me away from certain disaster with the dread warning “OMG! Don’t go there.” And it was odd because Inner George always actually said “O-M-G” and these conversations started way before social networking. But these days, things have changed.
So here’s some free advice for perky young spin/Pilates instructors, 30-something divorceés who bond way too well with their pets, and even older women who’re only 15-20 years younger than me: Do NOT wait until some little punk kid in the third-grade asks why your teeth look so old, crooked, or yellow.
Your gym/Starbuck’s/co-worker/vampire novel-readin’ girlfriends will not tip you off. And some of ‘em only call you “girlfriend!” as you approach. There’s a whole other tag attached as you saunter away outa sight, but not quite outa mind. And even Best Friends Forever can feel a little uncomfortable helping out with some of the personal stuf—and if they’re women, that means they’re way smarter than guys like me.
Shucks, even trained professionals, like some of my best male molar jockey friends, screw up trying to be helpful. But, that’s no surprise. I used to just hope maybe oily skin, a big nose and huge ears were somehow linked to some soon-to-be-discovered late-onset “sensitivity” chromosome. The world still waits.
One of my classmates once did the typical guy thing and flat-out asked an aerobics instructor if she’d ever thought about having whiter teeth.
After a brief pause, the third-degree black belt, kettle ball-trained young lady asked if she, too, might pose a question, “Uh, ever thought about exercising once in a while and losing about twenty pounds?”
And what with porcelain veneers, Invisalign, various cameras, computer imaging, teeth whitening, lasers and all kinds of biomimetic or totally natural looking materials available, I was in need of some serious old-fashioned modern technology that would put the lid on Inner Costanza.
So I walked the land for years and also took trains, planes and automobiles looking for the answer. And then, one day I finally achieved a moment of profound clarity (it really can happen, especially when you’re trying to watch soccer.) A voice from my sometime-nemesis, Hal the Computer, announced, “Hand the patient a mirror and then ask an open-ended question, something like, 'If things were perfect, is there anything you would change?'” OMG!
And TG, for CDs.
Charles Dickens once wrote, “Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers and are famous preservers of youthful looks.” And even though Dickens was English, wore a beard and a moustache and therefore probably had cock-eyed teeth, who better to tweet the value of a smile?