Readers Ask: Dear Lucky About Grooming Etiquette

Q: If someone has spinach in her teeth, a piece of lint on her shirt or toilet paper on her shoe, am I supposed to say something? Sometimes I just let it go because I don’t want to make the person feel self-conscious.

Illustration by Lauren Friedman

A: The true friend—or, better, the true kind person—always, always says something. By “says” I mean whispers conspiratorially. I wish this person were infallibly me; I am almost always this kind, trustworthy person. Except in one case, and I am hideously ashamed that I am too weak to say something in the case of … bad breath. Or bad smells in general. I want to be honest, I want to help my fellow man, and I cannot. And I worry that because I can’t say anything in this particular case, that perhaps I am walking around with terrible breath and no one has the nerve to tell me. It’s awful, feeling this way, and if we were all a little more evolved than I am, the world would be a happier place.

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