Friday, March 13, 2009

The rules of Mouth Noise

I have about 1876 pet peeves. Mouth noise is at the top of the list. And to make it worse, I have super-hearing, specifically to mouth noise.

I was born this way. My siblings made it worse. In those days, I called it SMACKING because that is what they did to make me crazy. I have a vivid mouth-noise memory involving salad. I was in what we now call the tweens or Middle School years. They should be called the miserable years, because I was miserable to be around. Especially when there was an abundance of smacking.

One particularly miserable night we were sitting at our little kitchen table, eating supper involving a salad which we were required to eat. Salad=crunchy, right? Right. Just ask my sibs. They used that opportunity to combine crunching of salad with the smacking enhancement of salad dressing. They could really tune it up.


THEM: Smack, smack, smack! Lickety smack.

ME: STOP IT! You are doing it on purpose. Stop smacking.

Them: Smackity, smack, smack, smack (leaning over right next to my ear) Slurp-smack.

ME: YELLING Mama, make them stop. I can't eat. (note, I didn't need to eat - perhaps it was some perverse diet thing they came up with. )

Them: Smack, smack, licking wet smack, stick-out-the-tongue-to-show-the-chewed-food SMACK!

ME: now screaming: You are doing it ON PUR-POSE. (ya think?) I'm going in the dining room.

The dining room was on the other side of the wall from the table in the kitchen. By moving to the dining room, I was moving roughly 6 feet away. The better for them to smack at me. I tried to slam the door, but it was a swinging door and wouldn't slam. That was a shame. I could have used a good door-slam about then.

Them: holding the door open with a foot and laughing hysterically. SMACK SMACK SMACK SMACK. Mouths wide open and food spewing everywhere.

ME: I'm going to tell Daddy when he gets home. Now crying.

They did this a LOT.

Imagine my dismay when I got out into the whole wide world and found out that mouth noise of all kinds makes me crazy. It is the root of my hatred of gum. What is the purpose of gum? Only two things - to generate mouth noise and to attempt to cover up something on one's breath - say smoking, which I never did.

So, I trained my children carefully to chew with no mouth noise. Which is impossible. Everybody makes mouth noise. Unfortunately, not everyone trains his or her children to eat with his/her mouth closed, which is rule number one of table etiquette.

I was horrified to make my first visit to my potential in-laws home to find out that no one taught them to chew with their mouths closed. It was bad. Old country manners, and open mouth chewing, plus talking with mouth full - EH, about closing up your Italian mouth when eating that sloppy lasagna? Actually I didn't say that. I thought it. Lots of times.

To make matters worse, I have some sort of uber-hearing related to mouth noise. Think of the whole drive-you-insane heart-beating scene in Poe's Telltale Heart. You know what I'm talking about, everyone in the world read's Poe's Telltale Heart in Middle School and again in High School. It's the MS/HS English teacher's dream story, because there are all kinds of recordings of it which take a bunch of class time. Except for me, who has never, ever done that for any reason. Bell-to-bell, every single day.

For me, it's not a beating heart that follows me throughout the house, it's the mouth noise. It seeks me wherever I go. Smackity-smack, smack.

And then, to top it off, I ended up with a child who has TMJ and so when said child chews, on top of mouth noise, we have the popping of the jaw joints. Pop-pop-pop, minor-smack-crunch-pop. Can't help it.

Also, I have children who go hide to eat, because they know I hate mouth noise.

My rules for mouth noise are these:
Don't make any.
If you must, don't do it around me.
No gum. The sound will seek me out and find me.
I do not want to see your chewed food.
I do not even want to think of your chewed food.
I also don't want to hear your chewed food.
Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I think that you and my husband would get along very well! He is always accusing my son of "lip smacking" while he is eating...I cna't hear a thing but he swares he hears "lips smacking!"

NostraDennis said...

Ann - I thought it was just me. I'm glad it's really just me and you. I know my hatred of mouth noise is insufferable. I know there's no way for most sane poeople to avoid doing it.

I wish there was a filter I could use to allow me to hear the radio and normal conversation, but not that infernal mouth noise.

As I sit here in my office, one of my co-workers is munching on an afternoon snack of crunchy cereal. She's a nice young lady, and a great co-worker, but I just have to leave the room when the munching starts.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the mouth noise I can't change, and the wisdom not to fly off the handle like I want to every time I hear it.

flinty said...

so post some tips on how to avoid the eating noises,
i know u r supposed to eat with your mouth close and take small proportions. What other steps are necessary.
u can mail me on the gmail account.

Anonymous said...

I just sat through 5 minutes of unbelievably irritating mouth noise while my roommate ate a sandwich. I can't believe how much smacking was involved! Close your mouth and eat quietly... this is not difficult!! Aarrggghhh! Why are some people so noisy and disgusting?????

Anonymous said...

I definitely feel your pain... It is bay far my #1 pet peeve. I literally have to leave the room when this happens, I will make up any excuse to get away. It literally makes me cringe. I wish I could stay there and take it but I can't, I think maybe a disease I have at times.
Another thing that bothers me is people with excessive nervous habits...tapping feet, tapping hands, continuously grabbing one body part like their ears or chin...It drives me up the WALL. When I have kids I will definitely teach them to SIT STILL, and chew quietly with your mouth closed and don't push the food around on your plate.

Anonymous said...

I understand completely, I loathe mouth noises. It started when I was a teenager, and has prgressively gotten worse. Whenever someone is next to me popping gum, I want to tear their head off. My boyfriend is a noisy eater, and he is constantly clearing his throat. He will suck the boogers through his nose and swallow them. It makes this discusting noise that drives me bat crazy. I also hate it when people gulp their drinks, and clink silverware on their teeth. Silverware clinking on teeth is the most annoying and discusting sound ever. It literally makes me want to crawl out of my skin. My boyfriend will do this on purpose knowing that I hate it. We have gotten into arguements because I will tell to be more quiet while he eats. He chews with his mouth closed, but will talk with his mouth open which makes me freak out. We have reached a compromise, he will try to be more understanding of my feelings, and I wont get on his case as much. I know that some mouth noises can't be helped. This is a sensitive topic for me. I have tried to explain to people that I have this problem with mouth noises. People do not understand, they look at me like I am crazy. I enjoy going on these sites because it's nice to know that I am not alone!