Ya Got Lipstick on Yer Teeth

Lipstick is messy business; it often gets on teeth, and since I pay attention to detail it's quite distracting to me. I always want to lean over with a tissue or something and say, "Here, let me get that for you."

Of course, that would be socially unacceptable (I think. I've never tried, actually. Let me know if you have and how that went for you.).

I have a friend who says that 'girl code' is to run your tongue over your teeth, then the other lady will know you're telling her she has lipstick on her teeth and she'll do something about it. Apparently I got the wrong 'girl code' curriculum, because I would just wonder what they were doing.

It seems like it would be embarrassing for the lipstick wearer, probably lower than the 'booger in the nose,' but higher than 'your shoes don't match your belt.' This adds to my inability to say anything, because you never really know how someone will react. Presumably they'd be grateful . . . but you never really know.

Mostly I'm in a state of eternal limbo, because I'll always be distracted by lipstick on women's teeth, and I feel like I can't do anything about it.

But this isn't really about lipstick on teeth.

When you're reading a story, extra words are like lipstick on someone's teeth. They're distracting, you can't quite figure out what to do about them, and you're vaguely embarrassed for the writer.

When you're writing a story, extra words seem so easy—they make your stuff sound fancier and look cooler, and big words seem to equal intelligence these days.

But, remember, anything that does not drive your writing forward is unnecessary. It's like Strunk and White consistently drive home in Elements of Style

Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

Adding extra words is like lipstick on teeth: awkward, unnecessary, and very distracting.

Edit ruthlessly and your reader will appreciate it for the clarity, speed, and brevity—just like we all appreciate when the lady realizes her teeth are stained bright red and wipes them clean or licks them or does whatever women do when they realize their teeth are covered in lipstick . . .