As a Manner of Fact
Sick of the Slurping and Slouching
February, 2005 - Issue #5
Sick of the Slurping and Slouching
Sick of the Slurping and Slouching
Ladies and gentlemen, here's a surprise: I am disgusted. But first, what most of you will consider good news - my most recent experience in a local restaurant has me boycotting the whole lot of them. That's right, this may be my last article on restaurant behavior for a while. But I digress...

While munching on delicate appetizers (eaten with a fork and knife, not torn apart with my teeth like a heathen), I noticed that the diners seated nearby had ordered soup to start. My envy over the delicious smell of the broth quickly turned to disturbed shock, however, as soon as they began eating. There they were, four well-dressed adults, professionals probably, shoveling hot soup into their craws quicker than this traditional nana can utter "appalling" cattily under her breath. And that's just what I did as I observed the group bent over their bowls, sipping and slurping, not knowing that they looked like a pack of hyenas surrounding a kill. I felt like I was watching an Animal Kingdom program, really. Didn't they learn in their fancy business-etiquette classes that one brings the food to the mouth, not the mouth to the food?

Trying to avoid getting caught staring (I know it's not proper, but at least I am admitting to it), my eyes wandered to other tables within sight. The mouth/food issue again became apparent, and I swear I am not kidding, when I saw a young woman poke herself in the eye with her straw. How did she manage that, you ask? Because, my friends, she was attempting to drink from her glass without lifting it to her face. Instead of using her hand to grasp the cup, she instead bent her face towards the table, ineffectively searching for the straw with mouth agape. Had a sports announcer been present, the play-by-play would have sounded something like this: "Tina moves to the left, just a little more and she has it. Notice how she never breaks eye-contact with her companion. That's the sign of a true competitor. A real champ, this one. But sometimes that makes 'em cocky. Oooh... just missed it. Now she's angry. Wow! Look how she's incorporating the tongue as a hooking mechanism. Going in for the kill, now. Whoa! What a mis-step! Right in the eye. That has to hurt. You hope at a time like this her family isn't watching."

When did sitting up straight at the meal table go out of style? When I was young, my mother would stand behind me and pull my shoulders back as soon as she sensed a slump coming on. It may sound old-fashioned, but it's my belief that people who sit up straight simply look better and appear more confident, more respectful, and thinner (a very important side-effect of good posture).

All this slouching reminded me of my daughter's previous suitor, a bright man who consistently made a transformation from polite gentleman to super-slacker the moment his rear-end touched any and all seating paraphernalia. It's almost as if his spine was made of Jello, the way he so capably matched the curve in his back to the curve on the couch. I'm convinced that his disrespectful manner or sitting, as well as the unbecoming double chin that formed each time he assumed his favorite position, were primary reasons that my daughter rid herself of the man.

I suppose as far as social faux pas go, bringing your mouth to your food or slumping on a couch isn't the worst of all possible etiquette atrocities one could commit. Still, what troubles me is that these errors are being made by those of us who should be functioning as good examples to others. The professional and educated among us, the people that know better, are actively condoning bad manners instead of encouraging others to elevate their own social performances.

I don't like what that says about our society, but I can do little except remove myself from troubling environments. So go ahead, slurp and slouch all you want in restaurants. I won't be there to notice either way.
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