Susan, be smooth! by Nell Giles, 1940: Chapter VI – Oral Exam

Chapter VI

This is a chapter on how to make people stop and listen. It is all about your mouth without lipstick.

It is, in short, a chapter on how to put salt on the bird’s tail with good teeth, sweet breath, a smile and a voice with swing in it. If you have these things, lipstick is only gilding the lily, to continue our walk among the birds and flowers.

There is no need to tell you, Susan, that good teeth, straight, sound and white, are the basis of many a girl’s heart-breaking charm. You’ve seen it done.

But there is need to say that you can have teeth like this if you start early enough.

Naturally you know, from a few doses of physiology, that diet builds strong teeth. That you must drink orange juice and milk and eat spinach and eat not too much candy, to furnish the calcium that teeth are made of. This is a simple fact which will save many a dentist’s bill, and if you’ll make your own private check-up, you’ll find that the X for the girl with the prettiest teeth matches the X for the girl with the most Vitamin C in her diet.

But teeth must be straight as well as sound and white. . . and no one can help you here but your dentist. Today the dentist is a beauty expert. . . rebuilding chin lines, as well as straightening teeth. If he asks you to wear a band around your teeth, please do! The slight feeling of fullness it gives you now is nothing compared with the inferiority complex you can develop later because you have a mouthful of crooked teeth that won’t all fit in. All the women you call “horse face” now might have been pretty if they’d worn bands on their teeth.

We can’t say too much about the importance of having a sweet breath. It is absolutely abominable not to have. If you have the slightest doubt about yourself, do something about it. . . don’t imagine that your charm will smooth over this insult.

Sweet breath comes from clean teeth and a stomach in good working order. We are, of course, not talking about what happens when you eat onions. That’s up to you.

Teeth must be brushed at least twice a day with an alert brush which is dry when it receives the powder, paste or liquid you like to use. That means you must have two brushes, to be sure there is a bone dry one waiting.

Take pride in the color of the tooth brush handle you choose; buy both brushes in the same color. This is not hokum; this is all a part of smoothness. . . a sense of color, a fastidious pride in everything you buy and own. Don’t make a point of it to other people. But other people will notice. . . Susan always has a turquoise toothbrush; Susan has red hair. Why do you think the chemists and the manufacturers’ stylists have been working like beavers for years if it isn’t to give you pleasure with COLOR? Incidentally, sticking to the same color makes it easier to choose yours from the cluster around the lavatory. The stylists thought of that, too.

But brushing your teeth well is more than a choice of bristle and paste. It is a five-minute job, going in and out those crevices, and doing it the hard way, which is up and down. But a minute of extra care will save your breath. It is the tiny pieces of food which ferment and cause bad breath.

As for stomach in good working order, this is a matter of diet, exercise, plenty of water and taking a pill when you need it. Since we’ve devoted a whole chapter to diet, we’ll leave the rest heavily underscored and un-said. Which takes us to the third question on this oral exam. . . how is your smile? It can be sweet, sincere, or sudden. This last is a trick. You meet a glamour girl with a great lack of anything in her face except smoldering eyes. Sudden as the sun in Bermuda, she flashes a smile. Most often, it falls flat the second or third time, because now you’ve caught on. But if you plan to go to June Week, you might practice up on this. It’s good when you seldom meet the same man twice.

The sweet smile is nice if it’s’ not overdone. Be careful that it has none of the “I’m polishing an apple for teacher” feeling about it.

The sincere smile is the only kind, of course, but that doesn’t mean that you only bestow it as a reward for some good deed. Even a glamorous smile can be sincere. And you can smile often if you really are sincere about each one. The point is that a constant smile gives your face a silly lack of poise and character, just as no smile at all makes it expressionless. Our favorite smiler is Browning’s Last Duchess who, you remember, was killed because

“She had
A heart–how shall I say–too soon made glad.
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.”

Without a doubt, the Duchess had charm, and died for it. She smiled from a delighted heart, and she meant every smile she gave.

About your voice, we’ll say little more than “Susan, be Smooth.” Even the sound of these three words will tell you just what we mean. This is a sound of saxophones playing the after-dark part of Night and Day. You see. . .? It can’t be harsh or nasal; it can’t be loud, to attract attention. It has music, and will get what it asks for. Practise!


To Be Continued. . . 

If this is the first time you’ve met Susan, be sure to check out:

Introduction and Table of Contents
Chapter I: Give it a Thought
Chapter II: Keep it Simple with Subtraction
Chapter III: Soap-and-Water Clean
Chapter IV: S-T-R-E-T-C-H
Chapter V: A Hairsbreadth Escape

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