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LA Affairs: I didn’t like her breath, but I stuck with her cooking – Yahoo News | Gmx Pharm

A male hiker cuts down a heart-shaped tree to the surprise of his companion.

(Jorge Cha / For the Times)

When I first tried to break up with Anna, I didn’t have the courage.

We were together for about four months. I was editor of the student newspaper at Santa Ana College. She was the food and arts critic for her student work at Biola University.

We met at an awards show in San Jose, where she thought I was an arrogant jerk, which was probably true. About six months later, our paths crossed again at a college media conference in New Orleans, where after a long chat at the airport, she found me less annoying. We agreed it was crazy that, even though we lived only a few miles apart, we only saw each other at college journalism conventions.

Anna was great. She was smart, funny, cute, a trained baker and journalist. She loved hiking, which I hated at the time. It felt like I had to work really hard for dates because she always wanted to go to a far off path. She loved camping, which I hated at the time too. (Where do you go to the toilet?!)

Despite my feelings for outdoor adventures, we went hiking. We had a “How I Met Your Mother” date night for which we dressed appropriately, went to Foxfire in Yorba Linda, sang karaoke, and then played laser tag. We read each other the newspaper articles and cooked together in her apartment. Everything about the relationship was wonderful.

But something bothered me. It wasn’t that she was a celibate-until-marriage Christian and I wasn’t religious. (A couple of the guys on the editorial board told me I should definitely drop them because of those factors). What bothered me was that if we could just make out, her breath had to smell nice. But it didn’t. It was awful. It had that sharp, acidic smell that would linger on me for hours afterwards.

I told myself that was why I had to break up with her. Relationships were predictable to me up to that point. No matter what happened, the course of each romantic interaction eventually went unrequited.

That’s how it was with my kindergarten crush in Downey. My only misbehavior in my entire school career was when my teacher caught me staring at my crush’s butt while I was doing math instead of paying attention. I wanted to be her husband when we played house, but she demoted me to postman. And then, in a devastating blow, she never picked up her imaginary mail.

That’s how it was with my crush in middle school. My friends pressured me to ask her around the neighborhood where she hung out with the popular kids. I knew the answer I would get: “I like someone else.”

Such was the case with a former college friend. She left me after graduation for the guy who sang “Happy Birthday” in Italian at Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

See, I’ve never had the burden of breaking up with someone else. I’ve always been the fool – until Anna. I had already avoided New Year’s Eve with her. She invited me to San Diego to ring in the new year. I didn’t want to drive out of Orange County, so I lied and told her I was working all night.

I had avoided her under the pretense that I was really busy with student work. However, Anna and I were supposed to go to the park and I decided that this was the right day. I left my car in a mess, with old issues of the LA Times on the floor and day-old coffee mugs strewn about. It was my insurance policy. There was no way I could take a woman on a date in a pigsty like this.

When I got to Anna’s apartment she gave me a big hug and before I could say a word she showed me a picnic basket she had put together the night before. She had hand rolled veggie sushi, prepared brown rice and to top it off baked individual pecan pies – my favorite.

I was like, “I want to break up with this girl, but I also really want that cake.” After all, she was a trained baker!

We drove to the park in my dirty car and she kept asking me, “Is something wrong? are you ok Why are you so quiet?”

Even though we were already done with lunch and I could very well have broken up with her right away, I also knew that she had more of those cakes at her house. So I lied. I told her everything was great. That way I was able to get my hands on the rest of these cakes, which I later did.

My attempts to break up with Anna in January failed. I wasn’t able to pull myself together until a month later. I didn’t want to commit to buying her a friend-level gift for Valentine’s Day, and then her birthday was two weeks later. I had to take the exit or I would be stuck in our relationship for another month.

Two days before Valentine’s Day I texted her that we needed to talk. She was finishing printing her newspaper and I told her I would call her later that evening. She invited me to her campus, but I decided to text—a really stupid move. I didn’t tell her I wanted to break up with her because of her breath or the hikes or our differing opinions on religion. I told her it was because she and I would probably split after we finished our journalism program.

“Let’s not make it any harder for ourselves. We know we must inevitably part ways,” I told her. (Yes, I was an idiot.)

Anna was very calm. There was no struggle, no argument, no probing to understand why or where things had gone wrong. Maybe that’s because she was so tired from her production. Or maybe I just wasn’t worth the trouble. Looking back on it all almost a decade later, Anna was just the kind of woman I wish I’d ended up with. I now enjoy hiking and camping and have even developed a relationship with God.

A few weeks after Anna and I broke up, I went to the dentist. It was my first check-up in a long time. I opened my mouth to the hygienist and, to my surprise, she held a clothespin to her nose with her fingers.

“Pee-yew! I’m glad you came to the cleaning. You need it,” she said. “Let’s go ahead and get rid of that dragon’s breath so you don’t scare off the girls.”

Guess it wasn’t Anna’s breath after all.

The author is a writer living in Orange County and he now brushes and uses his teeth religiously. He’s on Twitter: @RoldyPierce.

LA Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the LA area, and we want to hear your real story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email The submission guidelines can be found here. Past columns can be found here.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Updated: September 17, 2022 — 12:32 am

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