Thursday, October 19, 2006

whose kids are they?

So I was just totally chased out of the JCR (that's junior common room for the uninitiated) by the most disgusting public display I've been forced to endure in a very long while.

Now, the JCR is not a quiet place. It is not where students go to study. We are not foolish enough to believe that actual work gets done there. After all, the room doubles as the pub on Thursday nights, so it's nearly dark in there at all times of day or night. However, there are two TVs with full cable and plenty of comfy couches and chairs for relaxing between classes and socializing. Legal & Lit (the students council-type body here) has even been nice enough to provide us with a couple of microwaves and a piano for our enjoyment.

So what, might you ask, could someone possibly do that is so revolting, so utterly disgusting, as to drive me out of this otherwise social space? I'll tell you what:


With his mouth open.

And many droplets of spit flying out.

While talking.

There are few sounds on this earth more revolting than the sounds produced while one is industriously masticating one's food, while speaking, and with one's mouth busily hanging open and one's lips steadily smacking. I was truly torn between fleeing the scene altogether and turning to ask this person in their obvious oblivion if they had, in fact, been raised in a barn!?

C'mon people. I learned at an early age, certainly by the age of six, that chewing with one's mouth open is rude, and while talking, far more rude. Granted, I have been known, on occasion, and in the company of close family, to chew in this obnoxious fashion in order to move my sister to temper tantrums of epic and hilarious proportions. The key difference is this:

I still know I shouldn't be doing it.

How does someone get to be at least my age (24), or from the looks of this guy, far older than that, and never have anyone tell him that the noises emanating from his mouth while he chews (AND talk!) are unendurable?? I mean, let's just pretend that he can't hear himself, which, in and of itself I find difficult to believe. How does one negotiate myriad social situations without discovering that nobody wants to sit anywhere near him during a meal?

I suppose I could fall back on cultural explainations. After all, perhaps where he was raised, the social niceties varied a great deal from our traditional North American ones. It's possible. However, I'm not really convinced that this alone can justify the complete and utter cluelessness of this lunchtime diner.

Perhaps we, as a society, have just become too lax. We can all remember hearing about a time, if not living during one, in which social norms were different; more formal. I can still recall diligently praying before every (lunch) meal at school during my early childhood, heads respectfully bowed and hands neatly folded beneath our chins. To not say "please" and "thank-you" meant to not receive whatever one had requested and to feel great shame upon having to be reminded. Any sort of quarrel or altercation witnessed in public was thought to be quite scandalous.

By contrast, just this morning, I heard a story on the news about how a British newspaper had managed to dig up confidential divorce-related filings from Heather Mills regarding Paul McCartney's alleged misdeeds and acts of abuse during their marriage. I can't seem to go to the grocery store, get on a bus, or walk down the street without witnessing and/or overhearing a TMI conversation either via cell phone or in person. "My b!&*h" has become a term of endearment for one's girlfriend for pete's sake!

I dunno. Maybe this is just my age showing, but I for one, am wishing for the time when things were a little more formal; when people were (perhaps only superficially) a little bit kinder and more considerate; when manners mattered more than on just the most formal and special occasions. I could do with a little more respect - for oneself, for others, and for the systems and constructs that form the framework of our society - and a lot less expectation. It's all fine and good to know what one wants and to go after and get it. It's quite another to expect it handed to you on a silver platter, while you lackadaisically consume chocolates in your dressing gown, while a maid fluffs your pillows. I certainly don't endorse carte blanche all systems and constructs of our North American society. I recognize that there are many flaws of many varieties. Yet I can't help but point out that if you don't know where you've been, you can't really know where you're going. Without first understanding the principles underlying that which you wish to alter, you cannot see the ramifications of that which you wish to change. Evolution should absolutely be a constant, but not if it's a headlong rush into the "new and improved" without due regard to ensuring that this is in fact both new, and an improvement.

I would like to sum up this rant with some pithy comment on society and manners et al. and the proposed changes that will fix this whole mess. However, I recognize that, quite frankly, I am far too young, inexperienced, and unschooled in the subtleties of the subject matter to propose I have a sufficiently nuanced and brilliant solution. I am only far enough along in my intellectual development to be able to recognize how very little I know. So, instead, dear readers, I turn to you.

Barring a "stupid island" where all "stupid people" will be sent to be sterilized and live out their "stupid" days, got any suggestions?

I'm listening.


Post a Comment

<< Home