Monday, October 01, 2007

Sensory Selectivity and Hamburger Eating

Did you ever notice how we really DON"T watch someone sitting across a lunch table eat? I mean, we look at them, we talk and hear and see their faces: but we don't really REMEMBER the specifics of them eating? I went out to eat with someone yesterday, a very elegant lady. She ordered a hamburger, but I don't remember her eating it. While I remember most of our conversation, I remember the dress she was wearing, the way her hair was coiffed...I have no specific recall any of her eating habits!

I mean, she must have (if my own eating patterns are any indication) parted her lips and opened her wide mouth over and over again, teeth flashing before they cut and tore through bun and oily burger meat, masticating and swallowing, masticating and swallowing, jaws working overtime with each chomp within her mouth, her tongue intermittently flicking across lips to wipe off the larger residue of grease and ketchup before she took the next bite...I think it was ketchup...anyway, as I said, I don't remember the details of her eating.

Isn't human evolution wonderful? As we moved from basic animal to civilized human, we developed selective sensory registering and memory: forgetting the more primitive aspects of our daily survival rituals; we relgate them to indistinct focus and obliterated memory. Nose sniffling and mucus blowing, sneezing, coughing, eating (not to mention eventual waste management) are overlooked, never focused on, like the bent tip on someones nose, the hair protruding from an old man's ears, the purple blemish/welt on a woman's face. Elegance above all.

'Good manners' absolutely require these grosser realities of everyday human behavior must be accompanied by indistinct sensory registering and recollection...unless, of course, they occur from a corrupt business associate, an ex-wife or ex-husband who is collecting too much alimony, a boy friend or girlfriend who have just announced they have chosen to date someone else, especially someone of the same gender, or most especially a son or daughter who refuses to display good manners in the presence of invited guests; in that case, we can remember nothing but the less refined attributes; selective memory indeed. In cases like that what we rememeber most are the disgusting personal habits: wheezing, eating with mouth open, picking their teeth, and the way they swallow.


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