Thought Piece: Eating

by Wartank

I was eating lunch with my parents in a slightly over-trendy, new-age Asian cuisine restaurant the other day, casually looking around for people I might recognize, and likely despise. It’s also possible I was looking around the rather crowded establishment for attractive girls to tune into when conversation with my parents flagged. I found a pair to my left, not three tables off.

They were both blondes, sitting on opposite sides of the table, similar enough looking so that they were likely friends, different enough so that they were unlikely to be siblings. They were probably only a few years older than me, but both enjoyed a mature, pleasant beauty; they looked like nice, modest, down-to-earth girls you would be proud to take home to your mother. After discovering them in an early scan of my surroundings, I was more than pleased to be able to glance over once in a while to take in the pleasing profiles of not one, but two gorgeous women.

That is, until I saw them eat.

My attraction to one girl dropped to positive mediocrity in comparison to the way the other had me singularly ensconced.

Watching her eat was indeed a captivating thing, one which I can hardly describe. Now, please don’t get me wrong – if you will, purge all images of me as the slavering Neanderthal, hypnotized while the woman used her tongue to exhibit suggestive and hitherto unimagined designs. It wasn’t a sexually charged event. She simply radiated culture and elegance in a way I had never been exposed to.

After recovering from my sudden fascination, my mind immediately jumped to repercussions of this discovery. If, indeed, I have not developed an obscure new fetish, I wondered about how, like most attractive traits, there are certain types that are more attractive to the larger public. In fact, if you consider a smaller group, such as the North American culture, I would argue that many common conceptions of beauty, especially in terms of observable behaviours, are fairly specific, narrowly-defined, and unwavering.

However, the way you eat is something that is so unconsciously and carelessly passed on by mere mimicking of authoritative figures during your upbringing. It may also be heavily tempered by individual habits and comforts, and unencumbered by any kind of physical necessity to perform in a specific manner. To clarify, I would draw the example of walking versus running; many people have very distinct walking styles, so much so that an indistinct image, even a silhouette, can allow you to identify a specific person by intimate familiarity with that person’s walking style. Conversely, running is more heavily controlled by physical impetus, and therefore styles tend to be more uniform.

So back to eating style, as far as my personal experience goes, at least, kin of my generation often receive general guidelines on what not to do (chew with your mouth open, make loud noises, slosh liquefied solids between your teeth), but we are given startlingly generous leeway with which to control the 50+ muscles in your face that control your mouth.

I suppose this is just one of those long lost customs, that mostly went out the window along with not slouching, walking with a book on your head, and sticking out your pinky finger when you drink. And like these specific behaviours, your eating style is something that has become so ingrained, so absolutely absorbed into every reflexive pore in your body, that you have absolutely no chance of changing it. I think a general guideline is that if you have started to become interested in the opposite (or similar) sex, chances are you have lost the ability long ago to defeat any bad habits you may have acquired when you eat, sit, walk, or drink tea.

So what’s the moral of this story? Let me start with one – in many instances, most people would consider it only friendly behaviour to correct a pal when the unintentionally present themselves poorly. The Thing In The Teeth is a perfect example. While it can be uncomfortable and awkward to say so, most people will want to know if they have a The Thing In The Teeth. And if you are a friend, you should bite the bullet and do so. Similarly, brother The Thing On Your Face, and more malicious cousins The Stupid Thing You Did To Unintentionally Hurt Someone and The Interesting Way You Smell can all be difficult messages to pass on, but it is generally acknowledged that you should make an attempt to do so. After all, these are things that your friend can defeat. These are things they can change.

Now, what about horrendous eating habits? Has the ship sailed by the time a person hits puberty? Are these habits incorrigible? Are you a terribly uncomfortable person to eat around, and you don’t even know it? Would you have the heart to mention this to a friend? Would it even be a wise thing to do, or should you let his/her ignorance keep your friend blissful?

There are some ideas for us all to ponder, the next time you’re at a bus stop or daydreaming during a commercial break. To be sure, like many traits, while most people will appreciate a certain common look or behaviour, they are all ultimately quite subjective, with preferences ranging the wide spectrum. Find that special eater for you, and they will appreciate the way you eat as well. Or at least, they won’t pay it much mind.

  • Thought Piece: Eating
  • by Wartank
  • Published on March 1st, 2004

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