Some rules are just obvious. You don’t swear in front of a judge. You don’t slap your mama. And you don’t blow your nose in a restaurant.
Apparently that last one has a few people befuddled. Walk into any restaurant in the greater Muskegon area, and I will guarantee at least one juicy, rip-snorting, nose-blowing incident before you leave. And if you have my luck, it’ll be right as your food arrives, saving you a heaping helping of calories to boot.
Admittedly, I'm one of those people that keep their head down when I hear a vociferous sneeze in a crowded place. I don't want to see the gore. But there are no hard feelings. After all, you can't control when you sneeze. But blowing is another matter. It is not as if you don't have that warm-up sniffle that warns that a good nose blowing is imminent. In my opinion, this is what the public restrooms are for.
It is the gurgly, snotty sound, you see... it just kills my appetite.
Now, I may be a tad on the fussy side, but my mother was a world-class nitpicker at the dinner table. However, it’s not fussy to object to the raunchy sound of nose-blowing as a forkful of potatoes and gravy slips between your lips. It’s a sign of the evolution of our species. But unfortunately, nose-blowing is just the beginning. I’ve seen nose-picking, sugar packet “toothpicks” digging for hunks of food, boil-fingering and toe scratching. And yes, I’ve seen it all in public restaurants.
Perhaps these people think that because their great-grandmother who smoked three packs a day would hawk up lugies at the dinner table, a mere nose-blowing is negligible. Or maybe, like monkeys at the zoo, they think personal grooming at the dinner table is a bonding experience. Even wilder yet, maybe they think that we enjoy hearing them blow and silently congratulate them on their nose-blowing efforts, rating them on a one-to-ten continuum, with ten being the all-snot-in-one-blow.
Look, I’m not buying it. You people know what you are doing is wrong. So, Muskegon, I have a couple questions. Has eating out become so commonplace that we feel as comfortable at a restaurant table as we would at our own dining room table at home? And exactly why would we indulge in these behaviors at home, anyway?
I don’t know if anyone famous has said it, but if not, I’ll take the leap. Good manners are a sign of a civilized society. Opening the door for a woman doesn’t mean you are sexist, it means you have good will toward your fellow humans. Covering your mouth when you cough shows a consideration for the health of others around you. Wearing deodorant helps you win friends and influence people. And blowing your nose in the bathroom ensures that I won’t get up and dump my drink in your lap. Because if I have to sit through it one more time, I may just go postal.
A recent outing with my two young daughters was a colorful lesson in just how bad things have gotten. Our experience began as we walked in the door of a local seat-yourself establishment and were rudely pushed aside by an older fellow eager to get the one good table left. We politely took a less appealing table nearby.
He then removed his jacket revealing a shockingly-grungy, wife-beater undershirt that did nothing to hide his aged man-boobs and hairy armpits. Within minutes, he was joined by his rowdy friends who talked loudly about how their friggin’ car kept belching black smoke and the stupid cop who gave them a ticket for it. Feel free to insert colorful expletives and belching at will.
Then, just as our food was served, a woman began to blow her nose.
Perhaps you think that I had just picked a bad restaurant. Think again: I’d seen it all before. No, it was not my fellow diners' behavior that was remarkable, it was that they were all engaged in my most-hated behaviors seen individually at other times, now united into one unique dining experience.
Thanks to my own nitpicking at the dinner table, it is unlikely that my children will suffer any ill effects from this day-at-the-farm dinner. But one question does remain to jostle me nightly from my pleasant slumber: where, oh where, have all the manners gone?