Slowly I Turned, Step by Step*, Dept.
The Times (New York's, of course; Washington's I wouldn't insult a puppy's ass with) had an interesting article this week concerning a condition whose existence was unknown to me: misophonia, which the paper describes as being sent "into an instantaneous, blood-boiling rage" by "[t]he sounds of other people eating—chewing, chomping, slurping, gurgling."
I mention it both because it's interesting and because (here I stand up, introduce myself to the group and acknowledge) I cannot stand to watch or hear people eating. Now, it's not quite clobberin' time if I do happen to find myself in, say, a restaurant or even, God forbid, a food court. But there are times when I would gladly push a large-caliber bullet into a diner's forehead with my hand rather than have to watch him—and it's most often a "him"—chew his cud.
Case in point: I'm in a dumpling house yesterday, waiting to enjoy a plate of pan-fried dumplings. Because the kitchen forgot my order, I find myself without food for a long time in a smallish room that holds four other occupied tables. Two of them are occupied by Asian-Americans, whom, the law of averages holding, are likely Chinese-born. I lean on the law of averages in this case because their table manners were very reminiscent of those I saw exhibited by Chinese nationals during my time in the PRC, i.e., they manifested the relish with which they ate by (i) shoveling food into one's mouth as if trying to beat an off-stage timer and (ii) chewing in an open-mouthed style that produced a smacking sound like a wet towel hitting a bathroom wall.
Now, sensitive to multiculturalism as your sobsister is, I did not fling my unused chopsticks at either party (or, cooler, at both simultaneously) with sufficient force to pin his gobblin' hand to the nearest wall. But the thought crossed my mind. Along with that of a 16-ton Terry Gilliam-brand weight dropping on each of them. Call me bourgeois if you must, but there are a few things of which I should be unaware unless I'm rightnexttoyou. One is the smell of your perfume, another is the sound of your chewing. I would add to that list the sight/sound of people sucking the nonexistent contents of an empty cup through a straw and scraping the nonexistent contents of an empty yogurt container with a plastic spoon. Not unreasonable by any yardstick.
So, yes, misophonia. Stand up and proudly own your disorder. I have. And if you happen to be in an eating establishment, and an otherwise-mild-mannered person is lunging, Wolverine-style, at a patron who's rendering the 1812 Overture with only his spoon, his mouth and a bowl of soup, please come over and introduce yourself. I'll need someone to post my bail.
*If you've never had the pleasure of seeing the "Slowly I Turn" bit, feast your eyes on Lou Costello and Sid Fields or Lucille Ball or Moe, Curly and Larry working it.