I am writing this in a coffee shop and the woman sitting next to me is on her laptop while chewing kale salad, loudly. She is an attractive brunette wearing nerdy glasses and looks to be about 30, but all I can focus on is the kale crunching between her teeth.
Am I the only one noticing this? I can’t be.
She is now devouring a cacao protein bar and with the strength and decibel of a power drill, not even the barista’s coffee blender can compete with her.
I would give myself a C+ in good manners. I look people in the eye while meeting them, but rarely remember their name. My mom fought like a teamster to teach me etiquette and it wasn’t easy, she was up against a surf culture that silently view acts of politeness as, “giving in to The Man.” Overtime, though, her fortitude prevailed and I can now offer a firm handshake and chew with my mouth closed out of habit.
The utility of basic manners, I realize now, is to reduce distraction. Perhaps the woman sitting next to me is brilliant engineer working tirelessly to bring solar power to scale. Perhaps she owns a cat named Ted. But I have decided to focus my attention like a laser on the way she smacks her lips while chewing food.
Maybe I shouldn’t be so callus. Afterall, I’m no Queen Elizabeth. I still slouch. Come to think of it, I have been slouching the whole time I wrote this vindictive takedown. My muse, however, has been chewing with great posture. I wonder if this whole time she’s been writing, “why can’t this fucking guy sit up straight?”