I mean, haven’t most of us been told not to talk with our mouth full? I’ve been told. Have you been told?
Not too long ago, I was sitting by myself, in an eating establishment. Suddenly, I heard these words, “Do you mind if I join you?”
The person sat down at the table, across from me. We then ate, drank and conversed.
You see, the problem is, how do I synchronize the amount of food in my mouth with the amount of food in the other person’s mouth? And, how do I match my chewing speed and power with the other person’s chewing speed and power?
What if I’m gnawing on an over cooked piece of steak? What to do, what to do?
And worse still, what if I’m sitting at a table with a whole pile of chewers?
I was once given a tip. Never talk while your mouth is ‘technically full’. Quite a bit of nuance there, folks.
Maybe I should write a book. An Anal’s Guide To Good Food And Conversation.
Unfortunately, I have a soft voice so they probably don’t hear a word I’m saying. Which, maybe, is a good thing.
We were visiting a couple in their apartment for the first time. We all politely talked and laughed, but I knew, I knew, that inevitably, it had to happen. The time when we’d have to sit down and eat while still continuing on with our gab-fest.
The server arrived holding large round plates. Each edible had its own space with plenty of room to spare. A slice of pork in its rounded corner, a baked potato kitty corner to the meat and two overly large hunks of brussels sprouts kitty corner to the kitty corners.
We began to eat. I was nervous. Struggling, once again, to get the hang of the eating nuances. Desperately attempting to watch all three eaters as they forked food into their separate mouths. This person said that. That person said this. Fork in. Spoons stirring and clanging and reminding me of my past wedding reception, while the extra cutlery loitered beside my plate and filled my heart with anxious expectations.
You see, when I grabbed my napkin for the conversation dab dab, wipe wipe, I suddenly realized that I was the only person who had a napkin.
But, just to be sure, I double checked. Not another red napkin in sight and it was only then, and only after I’d fully masticated my food and swallowed that I spoke.
“How come I’m the only person with a napkin?” I asked.
The response was quick and sharp. “Because our napkins are on our laps.”
I have, however, just as I did with the chewing and talking problem, come up with a solution. What I now do is look to see what the other person does and if I’m in a group then I use my statistics background to solve this problem. I count how many eaters have a napkin on the table and how many have shoved their napkins down on their laps.
I make the decision based on first past the post. The majority wins. Napkin top-side or napkin under-side, doesn’t matter a whit to me. Majority rules and that’s where my napkin goes. No nuance here.