Before we were married, my husband and I had a married couple over for dinner one Sunday evening. I had met her through a friend of mine originally and had met him through our community. I was immediately intrigued by the fact that he’s a bull fighter and an engineer. I didn’t know much about bull fighting, so our first conversation involved me asking many questions. Really, what do you expect when you show someone a video of you bull fighting? Mind you, he showed that video to other people there that evening who took much less interest in the matter. When we had them over, I was currently working with his wife and saw her regularly.
We had a lovely dinner planned complete with roast beef, mashed potatoes, and salad. They brought cookies for dessert. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I’m sure it was a lovely conversation- don’t worry it didn’t revolve around bull fighting this time.
The next time I saw her was at a work meeting. She’s the honest and frank type of person, who is willing to talk about all kinds of awkward things that you normally would only talk about with your most intimate friends. One time she even broached the subject of bowel movements, “No one likes talking about it, but everyone does it.” Yes, she broke the taboo of poo. On this particular day, she informed me, “My husband and I were talking on the way home from your place on Sunday. I asked him if he noticed that both of you chew with your mouths open. He had also noticed.” Apparently, it was quite obvious and perhaps distasteful to them that we ate this way.
“I didn’t know I did that!” I exclaimed. “Thank you for telling me.” I also had never noticed that Allan chewed with his mouth open, I had noticed that he could eat really quickly, but that was all. I probably hadn’t noticed it since I do the same thing.
I started asking some of my other friends about this and asking if they had also noticed that we chew with our mouths open. One friend who had known my husband before meeting me, told me, “Oh yeah, it used to annoy me so much that Allan would eat like that.” Perhaps out of kindness, she didn’t include me in that statement.
I talked to my sister about it, she laughed and said, “Yeah, it drives my husband crazy! One time when you and Allan were eating in the kitchen, he came into the living room and made big chomping gestures with his mouth.” My brother-in-law’s mom teaches etiquette classes. I usually don’t set the table properly either, so imagine how much this must have bugged him, much to our unawares.
I couldn’t believe this! All these years I’ve been eating this way and I never knew. Allan and I decided to set out and remedy the situation and pay attention to closing our mouths when we chew. I don’t know how long that resolution lasted. There’s just so many other things to think and talk about when one is eating. There’s so much going on- the conversation, the taste, the texture, the smell, etc. If I’m busy focussing on keeping my mouth closed, how can I enjoy the rest? I imagine that seated at the head table for our wedding we were chomping away with our mouths open, for all we knew. Our guests probably thought, “They’re perfect for each other- just look at how they eat.”
Just the other day, Allan was trying to focus on the work he was doing in the living room. We live in an apartment, so even though I was in the dining room- I was pretty much in the living room too and I was eating lunch. Allan kept looking up in annoyance at me as I chomped away. I wasn’t sure what the problem was, so I continued as I was. Finally he couldn’t keep it in any longer, “Could you please chew with your mouth closed?” I looked at him and kept chewing, “Oh, you are chewing with your mouth closed.” Now this made me wonder- is my mouth actually open when I chew, or am I just really loud? Maybe I should video myself and find out the truth.
Still, every once and a while, Allan and I remember and will try to make the effort to chew with our mouths closed. Have we improved? I’ll have to ask my brother-in-law.