Thursday, October 06, 2005

A toothy grin

The next time you're walking through an airport and spot someone leaving a rest room wearing a toothy grin, here's why. This is a classic life-imitates-art story, or perhaps, man-bites-dog.
He checks his Rolex irritably as he bustles along through London's Gatwick airport. Clad in an Armani suit, his attache case swinging with every step as he busily sends an SMS message from his mobile phone, bystanders don't give him a second glance: just another yuppie businessman arranging a meeting. Except that Richard's meeting won't take place in a boardroom with executives, but in a public lavatory with a woman he's never met before and will never meet again after their "business" is concluded. For Richard is into toothing, a new sexual trend enabled by mobile phone technology.
"Toothing", short for bluetoothing, was a hoax created by two Brits, Ste Curran and Simon Byron. They created the silly name, published an article describing the non-existent practice, created a blog forum dedicated to toothing, filled it with fake discussions and tales of commode conquests, did interviews with newspapers, including the London Telegraph and even had a British MP declare his interest in toothing as a way to meet women.
"Our point at the time was to highlight how journalists are happy to believe something is true without necessarily checking the facts."
After all was said and done, or so they thought, Curran and Byron reassured the world that toothing was nothing more than a practical joke gone way too far. Curran's last words on the matter were:
"Despite all the made-up ramblings on Web sites across the globe, despite the forums and the fan-fiction, the tabloids and the broadsheets, the perverts and the simply curious, no one has ever ever, ever toothed."
Guess what? It has become real. It is happening. It is not only happening, it is wildly popular. You surf around on your Bluetooth - keyword: "Toothing?" - till you find someone interested in the same, er, activities, arrange to meet somewhere (public restrooms in airports and bus stations seem to be the favorites) and, if first impressions are not totally off-putting, you, er, partake.

Now, the risks involved are great. First of all, what happens when you arrive at the appointed bathroom or broom closet only to find your office cleaning lady awaiting? That happened to one unfortunate bloke. What happens if you find your wife awaiting a supposed anonymous stranger? That would be disconcerting. For the both of you. More ominously, what happens if the one-time, never-see-you-again clinch (or whatever) leaves you with an STD? That would be more than disconcerting, I should think.
Albert Benschop, a sociologist with the University of Amsterdam, researched the trend. According to him, toothing is the next logical step in dating. "The old game is just adapting to new times. It seems that being single and messing around is 'in.' Pair that with our faster lives, our shortened attention span and our technology and you arrive at toothing.?
The next logical step in dating? You gotta be kidding me. I thought that the next logical step in dating was either marriage or spinsterism. And, "adapting to new times"? This is what dogs and cats do, without the expense of Bluetooth-capable cell phones, and have been doing for millennia. Sociologist Albert Benschop of the apparently incredibly boring University of Amsterdam continues with his abject silliness:
He explains that toothing is "just like picking up people in bars but without the silly time-consuming conventions of decorum that people are obliged to keep to these days. This is much more direct. You both know what you want." He also sees it serving an important purpose: "People can use it to satisfy their need for intimacy. As long as it helps people out of loneliness and gives them more to enjoy in life, I think it's a very good development."
Personally, I think that Curran and Byron are much closer to the mark in spite of not being highly educated sociologists.
"It's like going into a crowded nightclub, throwing a brick at the dance floor with a love letter attached, and hoping that the person it hits will agree to sleep with you."
And what is the proper etiquette to observe if the person you find awaiting is off-putting? What does the young British trollop bent on a quicky tryst in the bus station broom closet to say when she finds this awaiting her? "Oh, excuse me, I was looking for my sister and she resembles a mop?"

Prophet Muhammad ibnu AbdillahTOOTHING?

Or what does the testosterone pumping, young, upwardly-mobile yuppie businessman say when he discovers this breathless young hottie awaiting him in the exercise salon? "Don't turn around! I want to remember you just like this?" or, "Toning up for the beach?"

Fat WomanTOOTHING?
People call toothing a fad and say that its practitioners are nothing but immoral perverts. The toothers themselves don't care much. They watch benignly as more and more people of all ages, genders, races, creeds and nationalities - join their community.

"It's the fast food of sex," says Richard the yuppie. "Cheap and fast, without making too much effort." Then he checks his phone again and smiles. "Sorry, got to go."
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