Unbagging the Cats 1

Unbagging the Cats 1

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Backroads Miz Manners is Reluctant to Stir the Pot

I am faced with a delicate dilemma.

When, in the course of lunchtime events, it becomes necessary for some people to dissolve culinary bands which have connected them with another...a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

How do you tell an adult that he is chewing with his mouth open? Which, even in Missouri, is frowned upon in polite society. Not just chewing with his mouth open, but rolling the food around and around his tongue like a human cow with a hamburger cud. Making noises like a bulldog trying to lick peanut butter off the roof of his mouth. All the while, the half-masticated food protrudes/recedes, dancing a delicate ballet that mesmerizes the captive audience. They cannot bear to look, yet can't look away, lest a second of inattention enable the expanding blob of foodstuff to succumb to gravity, in a dramatic, slow-motion swan dive onto the white formica.

My dining companions pretend that this chomping falls within the norm of mealtime etiquette. Would they not tell a man his fly was open? Inform a lady that a booger dangles from her nostril. Notify a hirsute fellow when crumbs collect in his beard? Apprise Julia Sugarbaker when she has a big ol' bird perched on her head? I find this non-notification to be cruel and unusual.

My sixteen-year-old son, Genius, has had the experience of repasting with the oblivious offender. He and his cronies cringed in horror, but did nothing to resolve the issue. It's a class concern. Students do not correct their superiors. Genius was hoping that I would do the dirty deed.

"You mean you guys don't tell him? How can you sit there every day and watch that? It's sickening. We all sat at a different table on our trip, and left him and the other sponsor at a table for two, like a date. If one of us at our school lunch table did that, we would not let him get away with it. We would make fun of him every day until he stopped."

I can't do it. I cannot correct another adult's table manners. It's not like we could put a bottle of Scope in his mailbox for bad breath. Perhaps we could model correct behavior. All of us take a bite at the same time, chew with our lips clenched together, moaning "mmmm" like the grub is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I'm open to suggestions.


Linda O'Connell said...

Same problem here. I have been known to blow my cork and just whine, "Hey! Will you pleaaaase close your mouth when you chew?" And then she says, "Oh, sorry."
Few days later, well you know...
oblivious, not deliberate, just duncy.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

There always seems to be one at a table. One who is otherwise schooled in the ways decency. I once worked for a fabric chain in the panhandle of Florida. I had been promoted to District manager in an area that was adding new stores. Now, I know fabric and I can pretty much dismantle and reassemble sergers and sewing machines. I know how to merchandise a store and control the payroll and hire. But, because all the permits and dealing with contractors was new to me, I had to work closely with my regional manager. A man who by all appearances did not seem to be lacking in social graces. There was a lot of driving involved, as my district spanned from Tallahassee to Pensacola in Florida with forays into Georgia and Alabama. I did the driving ........ while he chose to FLOSS HIS TEETH. This is something I choose to do in my alone time. Another annoying habit he had ..... upon completion of his meal, he would pick up his napkin (whether it was cloth or paper) and using both sets of his fingers insert it into his mouth and wipe his teeth. I suppose I should just be grateful that he did not talk with his mouth full, or chew with it open.

I tend to share these stories with my children, who were teens at the time. They were eating with him once when we were opening a store in Panama City (they came to enjoy the beach with their dad, while their mom worked). At the end of the meal, the three of them picked up their napkins in unison and proceeded to wipe their teeth. I was not amused. This boss of mine from Wisconsin did not seem to even notice.

Emulating the culprit won't work, he will think it is normal. Maybe you should have an intervention. No? Anonymous letter?

Josh Hoyt said...

You do such a great job of describing this... maybe too good. I think that a simple over exaggeration could work but like Kathy said it didn't in her case. You could chew up some food put it in a fake mouth of sorts stick it in his locker/desk/car/... and put a note do you like the look of this? I don't either. anonymous of course :)

Val Thevictorian said...

I knew you would have my back, after telling that fast-food gal to wash her hands after touching her mouth. People just don't appreciate our attempts to save them from future embarrassment.

Maybe they weren't doing it to shame your boss. Maybe they were just yanking your chain. Like when my sister got a black eye in a college tennis match, and when my mom's church friend asked what happened, replied, "Child abuse."

Whoa, there! Your dark side is showing again. But at least you didn't type "grin". I lean more along the lines of whipping out a magnifying mirror, like women who care about their looks use to apply makeup and tweeze and exfoliate and shrink pores and whatever else that torture entails.

I'd like to catch The Masticator in full chew, and shock his mouth shut with the extreme close-up reflection.