international palate cleansing day sexylittleideas
or International Palate Cleansing Day
(click here for Part 1)

Sometimes it feels like there’s never enough time (together). And then sometimes it feels like there’s actually too much. There’s no menu or basket of bread on the table or TV to glance at. It’s just us looking at each other. Which can be great. But sometimes you just need to look away.
–Piper Kerman

A palate cleanser usually refers to a more or less neutrally-flavored food that helps to clear your sense of taste and reset your taste buds when gustatory fatigue sets in.

Would our relationships be much happier places if we learned to look at affairs as palate cleansers that, rather than pulled us apart, drew us back together and made us appreciate each other more?

I spent half an hour writing those first two sentences because I just know this is a brilliant idea that could help so many tired and bored couples, but I want to get it just right. Excuse me while I go snuggle with someone beautiful lying in my bed in the middle of writing this, because I can promise you that after clearing my head a bit, my next idea will be more brilliant than the last.

… …

It occurred to me that palate cleansers are needed and socially acceptable in practically all areas of life. And with very few exceptions, it is generally accepted that “looking away,” even for just a moment, will make that part of your life better.

Perfume shops have their coffee beans. Wine tastings have their white bread or sparkling water. In countries such as France or India, where diversity of flavors in dishes is common, a light entree between courses is an obligatory meal companion.

When your computer has been on for too long and has too many things loaded into its memory, you reset it. Google makes available to its employees high-tech sleep pods that surround the occupant in a private space and shut out all external stimulus, allowing the mentally fatigued to recharge with a quick nap – in the middle of a work day.

Efficiency experts have been proponents of the mental palate cleanser since the dawn of efficiency expertise. You’ve probably heard that something as simple as putting all your work away and staring out a window for 30 seconds can unleash within you a creative monster that will swallow in one big gulp whatever hideous problem you’re tackling.

Why would a principle like palate cleansing, which has been so universally proven to achieve consistently dazzling results in practically all areas of modern human life, be so rejected among those last bastions of emotional exclusivity – monogamists? According to one monogamist I interviewed while preparing for this piece, it’s simple: Jealousy.

Jealousy, he said, just wouldn’t allow him to grasp hold of this (seemingly unorthodox but actually, as seen in many other spheres of life, quite orthodox) lifesaver, even if it would rescue his drowning, sputtering relationship with a man he has for six years considered his soulmate.

But is losing the love of your life to the relentless, monotonous erosion of time – something that is so predictable and so easily evaded – really worth the ’10 seconds’ of selfish jealousy you will feel while he or she is ‘smelling’ the ‘coffee beans’?

Maybe I’m just a sappy, old-fashioned non-monogamist, but that seems like a silly trade to me.

Let’s disect some statistics for a (very brief because statistics are boring) second. Infidelity exists in 8 out of 10 marriages in the US. Additionally, about 70% of both men and women admit that they would have an affair if they knew there was no chance that they would get caught. While 69% of discovered or admitted affairs end the marriage, 80% of these couples regret having divorced.

With infidelity already running rampant through our supposedly monogamous society, it may be time that we change our outlook on affairs. These statistics suggest that human beings both crave sexual variety and can tolerate this need in their partners. Imagine how much more durable and enveloping our relationships would be if having an affair was seen as a quick dalliance, an acceptable part of coupled life, and certainly not grounds for quarreling or separation.

Also, 56% of divorces are supposedly caused by an obsession with pornography. Clearly, when palates need cleansing, they will find a way to be cleansed.

If the thought of your soulmate leaving you for his/her lover seems scary, remember that only 10% of adulterers end up marrying their lovers, and 75% of these relationships that started out as affairs end in failure. This seems to indicate that palate cleansers can rarely take the place of the main course.

All statistics taken from the Oprah Winfrey Network at:

Of course, I would go further and say that you should be proactive in cleansing your palate before it becomes fatigued. I would say that the consistency of the palate cleanser is important (light, cheery flavors are usually used – sorbet, sparkling water with a twist of citrus, mint tea, celery sticks or fresh tart apples). I would say that different flavors of palate cleansers are best used after different types of intense dishes. I would say that you have to go into your palate cleansing keeping in mind that it’s a snack, not a main course. I would say that in the early stages of a relationship, cleansing your palate can confirm to yourself your true feelings about your partner. I would say that communication or lack of about your cleanser can either be essential or hurtful depending on the personality of your main dish.

Palate cleansing is both an art and a science. But like art and science, you don’t have to be a scientist to flip a switch and light your house or be an artist to use a masterpiece to light up your room.

August 27th is International Palate Cleansing Day.

Let’s all have an affair today. For the good of our relationships.