March 19, 2015

Smile! No, please don't!

Most people who have any experience with online dating can probably write volumes, and since I don't seem to be very good at it, (assuming the best scenario in online dating is to do it for the shortest time possible, meet someone, disable your account, and never return) I am still online. I feel encouraged, nay, compelled to add to the growing corpus of related literature.

This, straight, middle-aged men of the Midwest, is my gift to you. I won't add my voice to the scads of words regarding horrible profile pictures. The selfie ("I have no friends.") The shirtless bathroom selfie ("I have no friends, because I never leave my house.") The bar photo where you wear a  sports jersey and hold a beer ("I do leave my house, but women are an utter mystery to me.") Why bother? Those photo cliches are so imbedded in the online dating culture that no one is going to stop, any more than women my age stopped wearing baby blue eye shadow between 1975 and 1985, just because there were books and articles telling us not to wear it. Eye shadow was, by definition, blue, so no amount of press was going to convince us to stop.

I digress. Middle-aged men, I am open-minded. Other than evolution-deniers, and gun nuts, I don't have any firm deal breakers. Until now . . . .  because I did not realize this phenomenon even existed. Bad teeth. Yep, bad teeth, and by that I don't mean my-parents-could-not-afford-orthodontia. I have been out with men my age where bad teeth is clearly their signal feature: missing, broken, dead teeth, gaps where teeth should be, congenitally deformed tiny baby teeth! A set of choppers that hasn't had professional attention in years, maybe decades. In front! Always a surprise! I go back and look at the photos and sure enough, the guy is never pictured with his mouth open. I feel sort of tricked and betrayed.

Lest anyone think I am shallow, I will protest that I have never left a date saying, "this has been fun but your teeth creep me out." But neither have I met anyone so charming, sexy, amusing and kind that I have been able to overlook their horrible teeth.

I have to say that I find the situation alarming. The only constant parade of shockingly horrible teeth are the litigants on Judge Judy, who are mostly poor, uneducated and often rural. But that is not the case with my dates.

Since I have commented on this to a few friends, and that was three or four snaggle-toothed dates ago, I have been thinking about it constantly. My quandry is this: what explanation could someone have for their neglecting their teeth that would be acceptable in the context of dating? 
"I didn't go to a dentist regularly as a kid and I just don't pay much attention to it." 
Then smile in your profile pictures, and spare me the jolt of horror when I realize I can see your tonsils through the gap in your front teeth.
"I can't afford it." 
That's even worse.
"I am afraid of going to the dentist." 
Also completely unacceptable. No one relishes a dental appointment, a funeral, visiting a sickbed. We are adults. We do those things. 

When asked about going out again by any of the 6-10 men whose teeth have repulsed me, I have demurred. For some of you nice guys standing shirtless in your bathroom taking a new set of selfies for your OKCupid or Tinder profile, I can assure that women are not inscrutable or mysterious or capricious because they don't want to date you.
Psst. It is your teeth. They are hideous.

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