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Oh, how I empathize with Scott Barancik’s description of his hellish halitosis encounter (“Tongue Beef,” 6/13). My nose hasn’t yet had a problem in the theater, but it certainly has sniffed trouble at crowded concerts. And since a typical rock crowd may sing along or dance wildly, breath can be quite forceful, making a concert possibly worse than a still theater seat. Often heard in a mosh pit is someone joking, “I hope everyone used deodorant this morning.” In reality, though, body odor is rarely the problem on the concert floor, since pure sweat is not noxious. Bad breath in the pit, though, is loathsome and often rampant. So rampant that after six general-admission Lollapaloozas, I planned on asking promoters IMP if I could donate money for a huge supply of mints to be distributed at the gate. (I guess I get to save that money, now that Lollapalooza ’97 is not at a wide-open festival site.)
What can be done, short of Barancik and I donning nose plugs instead of assistive listening devices at the theater or ear plugs at a concert? I doubt any celebs will join a public service bandwagon, and the worst offenders probably would never consider that their mouths emit foul. Well, my mom always said, “Bad breath is better than no breath at all.” Maybe.
Disclosure: Although I write this letter as an individual, I am employed by the Warner Theatre, the site of Mr. Barancik’s experience.