BO vs. Halitosis. Body Odor. Or Bad Breath. I was faced with this question recently, to try determine the lesser of these two evils. After some deep thought on the matter (there is plenty time to do this while in the library, supposedly “studying”) I came to the conclusion that it depends on the scenario and immediate relation at the present time to the person.
Example #1: Public transport.
Here you are, sitting on your lonesome, wedged in between a couple of people you don’t know. Hopefully this trip will be short, perhaps 20 minutes, and at worst it could be a couple of hours (depending where you’re going). Yet if the person next to you suffers from BO… this trip could seem like hours. Its not a pleasant experience sitting next to someone when there is no where else to sit or move to, especially if you’re on a plane and this is your assigned seat for your world adventure. In this case, your best hope would be that this person has a severe case of halitosis, as your chances of speaking to a stranger on public transport are far lower than smelling them. Talking to them would be voluntary, whereas smelling them would be unavoidable. If you are one of those chatty people on a plane, you have dug your own grave and have no right to complain at your smelly-mouthed new friend.
Lesser Evil #1: Halitosis.
Example #2: The Library
I was working in the library the other day “attempting” to, anyway, when someone sat down next to me and there was just this…waft. To this day I’m not sure what it was, it smellt like she may have been eating big corn bites, that strong tomato chip smell, yet I could also have been very far off, trying to familiarise myself with the smell, to make it seem not so bad. And as I tried to work, the smell was just overwhelming. Here is a case where bad breath wins hands down; its a library, I’m not meant to be talking anyway. Imagine whispering “Excuse me, but you have a slight case of BO, could you move?”. No, no. Its far more polite to just move to another seat yourself, even though you know you’re not going to find one during peak exam time. But its ok, it stops you from studying.
Lesser Evil #2: Halitosis.
Example #3: Meeting for Coffee
If you’re meeting upwith an old friend and they suffer from either of our two symptoms, you have only yourself to blame because as friends – this is surely something you would know. But meeting for coffee with someone new can often be a test for future dates perhaps (with someone of the opposite sex of course). The problem here, is that going out for coffee implies catching up and talking, the coffee simply being a means to an end. Key word: talking. Should this new friend of yours suffer from smelly breath, you should speedily take over the conversation so that they do maximum listening and minimal talking (and breathing exposure.) Hopefully they will not think you are too self centred and still wish for a second date. If you are worried of this, perhaps you should hope for the best that the pungent smell of coffee takes over.
Lesser Evil #3: Body Odour.
Example #4: Business Meetings
In the corporate world one aims to always look their best and be presentable at all times it is difficult to decide which of these evils is worse. If you’re looking your best, you should smell your best! Its a hard toss up when you are caught in a room of people in suits, always talking, and seated for as long as this meeting could take. On the one hand, you hope that the people next to you smell ok. On the other, considering everyone may be talking, you hope their breath smells good. In this case I think we should just rely on the air conditioner to balance out the putrid smells.
Lesser evil #4: Tie.
The trend here seems to be that halitosis (bad breath. It just sounds so much more fungus-y this way) is the lesser of the two evils, as its your choice whether you speak to a person to discover such a smell. Either way, they both suck. Yet your best bet to avoid these two, are to keep a personal distance between you and all people and well as not initiating any form of conversation. That should keep you safe, and you will never ever have to deal with these issues.