The Thing Speaks for Whatever

The Big Kiss Off.

In In which we watch too much television, Rooks, This verges on the ridiculous, Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. on October 13, 2010 at 2:13 am

So, I’m watching TV.  (Shock, amazement, I know.)  Anyway, I’ve seen this commercial from Dentyne about 12 bajillion times, and every single time, it drives me a little bit nuttier:

Wow, Dentyne – 20,000 minutes?!  I didn’t even catch the rest of the commercial’s potentially problematic characterization of sexual safety, because my ears actually stopped working at 20,000!  Good lord!  That seems like a lot of minutes!  What do you think my mouth is made of, Dentyne?  Delicious?  Which is to say Wrigley’s Spearmint, because my mouth is old school like that?

You know, Dentyne, it may seem like all I do with my face is suck face, but you’re wrong.  I have hobbies.  Interests.  I talk with my mouth, and not infrequently eat and drink with it.  I suppose if bourbon shooters constitute “kissing” I’ve maybe made out with Jack Daniels (rarely a Gentleman, but he’s my man) close to 20,000 minutes in my life . . .

Wait. Hang on a sec.

20,000 minutes is no time at all!  Dentyne, you rat bastards – you totally played on my complete (completely American?) inability to quickly and effectively do simple math!  Had I received a quality public school education, however, or were I a math savant, maybe I’d have realized sooner that:

20,000 minutes = 333.33 hours = 13.88 days

. . . of your ENTIRE LIFE.  Putting the cold, hard math another way, it’s 60+ minutes a month for 333 months, or 27.75 years – that means if you started kissing at, say, 16 years old, and got an hour of kissing once a month, on average, you’d still be done before your 44th birthday.  That’s not a stat, that’s a jack.  And a depressing one to boot, given that the average American life expectancy is roughly 78 years.  This means smooching is in worse shape than Social Security, for fuck’s sake.  There’s no way Dentyne isn’t aware of this fact – if my ears had kept working, had visions of epic make-out sessions not been dancing in my head like so many tasty sugarplums, I might have heard the narrator mention something about having something for the other 40,000,000 minutes, or 76+ years.  For the folks playing along at home, using Dentyne’s own figures, we’re talking an assertion that people, generally, spend one-twothousandeth of their lives kissing.

I find that seriously disturbing, and more than a little sad.

And if you consider how much time lots of folks spent kissing and kissing and rolling around on any semi-horizontal surface and kissing in high school and college, when it sometimes seemed that class was what you did when you didn’t have your tongue in someone’s mouth, or what is basically a front-loading of kissing in life, then it’s even more troubling.  Though I realize the extent to which this behavior, this ecstatic, frantic making out, for good or ill, tends to change or evolve as folks discover a wonderful world of more frequently and/or directly orgasmic methodologies of sexual interaction . . . why?  Sexual hierarchies?  Must foreplay necessarily escalate, simply because intercourse is on the table, and kissing for its own sake go the way of all flesh?

My instinct is that the answer to that last question has to be “no,” despite the fact that, as a cultural matter, its not difficult to imagine why such an eventuality seems somehow normal – or at least normal enough to subtly premise an ad campaign.  Just look at the baseball analogy.  Not only is it socially ubiquitous (at least in the States, I suppose, so much so that I had several web comic options for the previous link), but it clearly sets up a goal, an “appropriately inevitable” destination for sexual interaction.  The point of baseball is clearly to score runs (and obsess over stats?) – it’s how you win – not simply to get on base, or enjoy a casual stroll around the infield, and certainly not to go backwards.

So clearly there’s potentially an understanding of “normalcy” in this situation wherein life simply, in many ways, evolves past kissing, in all likelihood in favor of getting to fucking faster, and more the pity say I.  On the other hand, it’s an equally distinct possibility that people just aren’t, in this author’s opinion, doing it right.  When I searched for the video for this commercial, I stumbled on a number of other blog commentaries on Dentyne’s figures, many of which focused on the sort of calculator gymnastics found earlier in the post.  The key difference is that, apparently, a number of bloggers think Dentyne is making perfect sense.  To wit:

Couples often kiss each other several times per day [1].  If we assume the average day consists of 30 seconds of kissing and the average persons spends 60 years in a relationship, then we can estimate the number of minutes spent kissing in a lifetime:

time kissing = (time kissing per day) · (days per year) · (years in relationships)

= (30 s per day) · (365 days per year) · (60 years in relationships)

= 11,000 minutes.

That’s an average of 11,000 minutes spent kissing in a lifetime.  The commercial’s claim is well within what one might reasonably expect.  Good job, Dentyne and “stub”.

[1] It’s [sic] can be a lot more if they make whoopee.

Wow.  Ignoring, if possible, how the amount of kissing “can be a lot more if they make whoopee” [emphasis clearly added], just look at the figures the author cites, presumably for mouth-on-mouth kissing only (it’s even worse if we’re talking kissing, period).  30 seconds a day for 60 years. If I’m ever in any sort of relationship wherein I average a mere 30 seconds of kissing a day, you have my permission to shoot me.  No, seriously.  It’s in writing.  And I’ll probably thank you for it, after I get over that whole being shot part, because I simply cannot imagine spending a month, much less a lifetime, with someone(s) I don’t want to kiss not only regularly, but frequently, prolongedly, and with as much skill and finesse and desire as one lil’ mouth can muster.  I’m not saying that people who don’t spend hours a day kissing can’t have awesome and fulfilling relationships in which they are happy . . . but I’m betting the pucker up helps.

So does all this bother anyone else?  Or am I just making mountains out of mouths?

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  1. Reading this made me want to go make out with someone immediately.

  2. It’s not that I disagree. I agree. I most definitely agree. Sucking face is a lost joy. 20K minutes are not enough. And, frankly, I’m not a fan of the mathematical alchemy occurring in this here commercial, my friends.

    That said, the above doesn’t bother me too much about this commercial. (By the way, analyzing commercials is one of my favorite pastimes. Expect similar blog posts from me in future.) I’m more perturbed by two other problems (which I’ll try to keep brief since technically I’m at work).

    1. “Practice safe breath” for all 40,020,000 minutes of your life with Dentyne gum = assumption: Dentyne gum effectively keeps your breath fresh all the time.

    Just like you, I’m going to ignore all the potential problems inherent in a phrase like “practice safe breath” for now. The real kicker here is that Dentyne gum, like every other polyisobutylene-based synthetic sugar distributor, treats you like a bad lover (even the type that does wear condoms): it dies on you and only manages to help you forget your problems for a short, acridly sweet time.

    That’s right, folks. The flavor fades in no time. And even when it’s there, your halitosis is still camping in that festering pit you call a mouth hole. For a surprisingly high number of people, bad breath is not just related to what they ate for breakfast — it’s a direct result of bacterial infections in their gums or tongues, and sometimes deep in their soft underbellies of their teeth. For about 30 minutes, the suffocating explosion of mint manages to cover up the stench, but by the 45 minute mark, even though you’re still tasting mint, your coworkers are smelling dog shit. By the time you no longer taste mint, you’ve been stirring up gossip for nearly an hour.

    But it’s not just you. It’s a lot of us. We stink, and Dentyne isn’t going to stop that. Ironically, if you chew enough Dentyne, you’re just creating fertile soil for more halitosis.

    2. Aw crap, I just received a new deadline. I’ll have to come back to my second point later. Let’s hope I don’t forget. I’m sure these commercials will annoy me enough to ensure that I don’t let this slip.

    • I look forward to breaking down commercials with you well into the future – we’re like the advertising focus group from hell.

      That being said, I agree with your points, though I’m not a huge gum chewer, and thus care less about the obviously erroneous freshness claims on a personal level, if that makes sense. I will say that, as a person who does not like an aggressively mint taste while kissing someone – i.e. given my druthers, I’d probably give it a couple of minutes before french kissin’ someone who’d just brushed their teeth, say – I’m glad that shit doesn’t work as well as they say it does. I suppose I just don’t like Dentyne throwing around numbers like they’re facts (like you), but when they do it in such a way as to highlight a potentially problematic cultural phenomenon, that’s where my panties get into the bigger twist.

    • I remembered to come back to this, but I forgot my second point. ARGH!

  3. The 60-year guy makes me super sad not just because he has cosigned the world to 30 seconds of kissing a day, but because that calculus encompasses multiple contacts. So his math actually breaks down to, say 5 or 6 kisses a day. Which means that each potential make-out would actually continue for 5 short seconds. When people hear the word “kiss” and imagine the chaste pecks one would exchange with an elderly grandmother as an adequate amount of hotness, fairies get their wings ripped off by maniacal trolls.

  4. (1) Chewing gum is a disgusting habit, practiced by the ill-bred and vulgar. Especially when you are in my dance class and I am trying to teach your ass something and you are chewing chewing chewing. You know who you are.

    (2) Nevertheless.

    (3) Dentyne clearly does not intend to target those of us who enjoy kisses of the long duration. I, for instance, consider myself a marathon kisser. Both in the sense that I like to do it for a long time, because it is fun, AND in the sense that I occasionally kiss for twenty six miles and three hundred and eighty-five yards following the defeat of Darius and the Persians at the hands of the Greek city-states. Not all the time, but occasionally it happens.

  5. Also, GUM IS NOT A SNACK. I didn’t even consider it a snack when I had an EATING DISORDER.

  6. A kiss can beautify souls, hearts, and thoughts. Or so said the fortune inside the cookie that came with my Chinese takeout this evening.

Whatever, yo.

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