It doesn’t matter where – sitting on the couch in front of the TV, in an elevator, at the dinner table, or standing in line at the post office – if a person within my field of vision is eating noisily, I find myself going insane. Literally. We’re not talking a mild irritation here – an internal silent wish that the person would stop; I have to physically restrain myself from running out of the room, or, in the case of an elevator or bus, where a quick exit is less realistic, from screaming out loud in frustration. I can’t think of a habit that annoys me more in a person.
I have been afflicted with this intolerance for as long as I can remember. I am the youngest of four, and I recall as a bratty and spoilt five-year-old, I would threaten to leave the room (and actually acted on it) if my brother didn’t stop biting down on the spoon as if his life depended on it every time he ate soup. If I wasn’t only five years old at the time, and had greater powers of articulation and persuasion, as well as access to the then-non-existent Internet, I would have told him to take a leaf out of the Chinese book, and breathe in while sipping from his soup. According to the Chinese, this method prevents slurping.
Definitely the worst offences are eating cereal, munching on chips, slurping on soup, and chewing gum. I really thought that my violent reaction against noisy eating would have been something I would have grown out of by now, but no. If anything, I am even MORE intolerant now than I was when I was a child. I have more words at my disposal to lash out against the offender.
I am vaguely aware that this intolerance is not something to be proud of, and it is even quite trivial in the whole scheme of things, yet I wonder what it is that makes people eat as unabashedly loudly as they do. There are times when I even have to tell certain people in my life that I can’t watch TV with them if they plan on eating, and that kinda wreaks havoc on your recreational activities.
I’m interesting in hearing from either those who share a similar distaste for noisy eating (if so, do you know of a cure?) or better yet those who are noisy eaters themselves, who can help me understand what lies at the root of noisy eating. Is it your background? Your nationality? (I’m British, after all.) Your religion? (Just kidding.) Is it an emotional attitude towards eating that manifests itself once the food is in your mouth? (I know, I’m a freak.)
Before I sign off, I have to say that an interesting element of all this is that the only two people in the world who don’t disturb me when they are slurping or munching are my two little girls. But that’s probably because I am just so grateful that they are eating at all – they eat like birds – that I block out the noise. Hmm.