In my first weeks at High School I fell deeply in love with our biology teacher, Mr. Snell. He had crisp, gorgeous hair and a quirky smile that set youthful hearts pounding. I fought with my girl-friend to get the seat nearest to his desk. He was a marvellous teacher. When he talked about the wonders of how a brave little sperm swam the race of its life to beat others to fertilise the egg, we gazed at him with glassy eyes - completely besotted. We made sperms out of all the OOOOs in our exercise books by adding tails. We hated his wife. She didn't deserve him.
My affair with him ended at the end of our third lesson when he bent over my shoulder to correct something. The odour of his breath was something between rotten eggs and a long dead corpse. Mr. Snell was a member of the Halitosis Society.
Schoolgirls can be cruel and fickle creatures. We cared not a bit that he might not be able to help his condition. We fell out of love in an instant and promptly labelled him "Smelly Snell". We now pitied his wife. We sniggered and held our noses behind his back. We were utterly obnoxious and I now cringe at our pack behaviour.
Ollie was a member of the Halitosis Society until I had his teeth fixed but I was slightly aghast to find that Ted, the painter, was a member too. I became quite paranoid - "You would tell me if I had bad breath," I said to John, nervously breathing near him.
He gave me a withering look. "Like a shot," he said.
But then something confusing happened. Ollie's breath became so bad you'd have sworn he'd devoured some long dead rats. I peered in the cat's mouth. The gums were pink and perfect.
Ollie and Ted always had smoko together and I was amused at their mutual admiration club.. Bad breath wasn't a problem for either of them. Then I noticed something. Ted was feeding Ollie some of his sandwiches. "Garlic and fish paste", said Ted "just the thing for a healthy cat".
"Garlic," I practically shrieked. It was all becoming clear.
"Marvellous stuff," enthused Ted. "I grow it at home." He gave Ollie another piece of sandwich. "Never catch a thing if you eat plenty of garlic every day."
I reeled back from the pair of them. The question was trembling on my lips but I bit it back. "Does your wife enjoy garlic, too?" I was going to ask. But you never ask questions like that. Not even your best friends can tell you that you have bad breath.