I was really trying to be polite, but something snapped. ‘You’re chewing with your mouth open!’ My dinner companion looked at me like it was a bad thing to chomp her food like she was in a petting zoo. A pet in a petting zoo. Like someone offered her an open hand filled with food beckoning her to eat it all quickly. It was awful. This was about the third or fourth time I’d eaten with this person. She would not take any of my hints.
I would cover my mouth to tell her I couldn’t answer her questions, because I was eating. Hint.
I would turn my head away from her when she tried to talk and chew. Hint.
I would not look up from my plate or answer her when she tried to talk to me while chewing. Hint. Hint. Hint.
In such a sincere way, she replied, “I didn’t know I was doing that.” I believed her, but I refused to cave to guilt for my outburst. So I asked her, ‘No one has ever said a word to you about chewing with your mouth open?’ She shook her head.
‘Do your sons eat like that too?’ She nodded.
‘Does your husband eat like that?’ She nodded.
I would have gone through her entire lineage, but was convinced that no one in that family had ever been checked for eating with their mouths open. Not a soul. I guess we really don’t know what we don’t know.
All I could do was illustrate what it looked like to me. I mashed up some of the items on my plate until they looked as unpalatable as possible. I asked, ‘What does that look like?’ She said gross, and I nodded, while pointing at her mouth. She got it.
It’s important to correct people about chewing with their mouths open. It’s unkind to let them continue.
It’s discourteous to chew with your mouth open. You’re giving people a show, and it’s not a good one. I can’t think of a person who wants to watch another person chew their food…as they chew it…before they swallow it…while they are eating also.
Meal time should be pleasant. Dinner with family or companions should be mutually enjoyable. It’s hard to enjoy a meal watching someone masticate their food.
I would not recommend correcting anyone the way I did. Catch them privately, and tell them with discretion. Some adults will be easily offended like my dinner companion. It’s understandable given everyone in her world, except me, eats like her. Other adults will welcome the correction, because they want to do better and be perceived as knowing better.
To my credit, I did explain to her that etiquette was about common courtesy. I told her that I didn’t want to offend her so I kept my mouth closed while I chewed.
Who am I fooling?
She probably still chews with her mouth wide open. I would not know. I’ve refused to eat with her anymore. Truly not giving a rat’s behind what anyone thinks of me for that decision.
Just do me one favor? Correct your children now, and before they ever eat with someone like me. Please.