Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What Happened to Table Manners?!?!

I've run into this several times, but more so in the last week than ever before. It is a plague that needs to be addressed. Do you know what I'm talking about?

People. Young people. People who should know better. Young, smart, up-and-coming people who should definitely know better but somehow don't. Sometimes even old people, and those are the worst because you can't tell them off for doing it. These people are apparently oblivious to the fact that they're doing it, oblivious to the poor ears of others.

Do you know what it is?

Poor eating skills in public. I'm not talking about at restaurants or bus stops or other places that you're supposed to be eating. If you have bad manners in the privacy of your own home then I don't care. Heck, if you have bad manners at a restaurant then you're still paying for the food and space so go right ahead. I won't stop you. I won't even give you a disapproving look. 

It's the people that decide they are going to eat in the quiet places. You know. In the library. Or in a study room. Or when they are sharing a table with a stranger and decide that loudly gulping their drink is the appropriate way to go. Or at a family dinner. Or at a dinner with friends. What do you think you're doing?

You. Yes you. Asshole who thinks that bringing an entire bag of chicken fingers to class is appropriate. You sit there and chomp and snarf and annoy the heck out of everyone around you. Can you not see the various disapproving looks that you're getting? Can you not see how annoyed the teacher is? I hope she docks 10% from your grade just for that.

What specifically has to go is this. Gloops (my mom's name for people with poor table manners) who choose quiet places to loudly consume food. These Gloops lick their plates, fingers, knives, or eating companions. They belch loudly, for no reason at all. Loudly smacking while chewing. Chewing with your mouth open. Holding eating utensils improperly so your elbow is miles high. Eating way too fast or way too slow. These Gloops also may sniff (sounds like *snark*) at the table or in quiet rooms without blowing their nose. I've even seen some of these Gloops refuse a proffered tissue in favor of sniffing it all up again and again. Is your stomach roiling yet?

This is becoming a more and more common problem. I think in part it has to do with people spending more and more time in front of computers with their earbuds in. They don't interact with people or hear themselves, so how can they be possibly expected to know that their eating habits make me want to grind knives into  my ears. 

Maybe the reason it bothers me so much is that when I was younger I used to have unofficial 'best manners' contests with my sister. Both of us had sensitive ears, my sister even more so than me, and the mere sound of someone chewing was enough to drive her off her dinner. So we'd sit at the table with each other and work at not being heard at dinner. Did you know it's possible to eat a potato chip without any sound at all? Well it is. (You want to know how? Go experiment, maybe you'll learn something along the way.) The thing we both learned from it though was how to have impeccable manners. 

Sadly, people with good manners, or even people capable of good manners are becoming harder and harder to find. Here are a few more examples.

There is an older person in my family who shall not be named, but this person has a habit I can hardly stand. Every time a condiment is poured from a bottle, be it ketchup, Worcestershire, or ranch, this person takes their index finger, wipes it along the top edge of the bottle, and then puts it in their mouth, smacking loudly at the same time. Do you want to use a condiment after someone has practically licked the top? You do? Well, maybe you'd better keep reading. This person regularly licks their fingers in the loudest and most obnoxious way possible, and because they are my elder the family rules dictate I do not correct their manners. I have corrected them out of reflex on times, (to both mine and their embarrasement) but it never makes a difference. I suppose if you get to that age you assume you can do whatever you want, but maybe there's a reason a lot of old people are alone. Just saying. 

Also just saying, said older person loves to cook, but the habit they have of licking their fingers without washing has caused some people to be sick from said cooking. It's sad, but true, and no amount of reasoning can get them to see what's wrong with that.

I've heard and read countless stories where someone invites a coworker or professional prospect out for a business lunch and is so put off by their manners that they never invite them out again. It's like, so much for that job, you ate all the bruschetta before your business partner could even pull out the olive oil. 

What happened to common decency and keeping your fingers out of the sauces? What happened to keeping your mouth closed while you chew?

I have another friend with whom I have to put on blinders every time we eat together, otherwise it drives me insane. She eats her food pretty well, but eats it so slowly that absolutely everyone else at the table is done before she even is halfway through. She also manages to push some of her food off her plate while eating so it ends up on the table in a nice, messy, circle on the table. It's really disgusting. I've addressed the issue with her gently, but her reasoning is that if people actually care about her then they won't care about how she eats. I guess that's true, I mean, we're still friends and all. But I do care, so if you're this person, then for heaven's sake get a to-go bag if your entree takes you more than 30 minutes to be consumed. (For comparison, a regular entree takes someone about 10 minutes to eat.)

Okay, here's the issue. We aren't respecting the food and we aren't respecting other people. Do you think if we respected other people we would annoy them with the chewed contents of our mouths? Do you think if we respected food and how rare good food is for some people that we would mash it around, stick our fingers in it, and loudly and mindlessly consume in study groups? I think not.

I admit I have problems with eating. I'm too sensitive to the sights, sounds, and smells others make while eating. Almost everything bothers me. I prefer to eat alone. Last night my grandma came down to talk to me after I got home from work and was trying to make myself a snack. I got so uptight about her watching me eat that all I could manage was two strawberries and a drink of water. I also prefer first dates because then people are on their best behaviors. You'll never see a decent guy stick his fingers in the dipping sauce on the first date, that comes out on the third or fourth date. That aside, I do what I think is a fairly decent job of keeping these quirks to myself. I eat alone when possible and pretend it doesn't bother me. However, it does help me to see where many Gloops are making their mistakes. So I'm ranting about it here, where you can pretend I'm not actually talking to or about you and thus not hurt your feelings.

This all must go. For the sake of your professional careers, your friendships, and your love lives, please have good manners. Take a little common courtesy, improve yourself, and figure it out.

Here's a poem that I memorized when I was about 7, but sums up the problem facing us and our food today. Memorize it. Learn it. Don't be a Gloop.

The Gloops they lick their fingers, 
the Gloops they lick their knives.
They spill their broth on the table cloth, 
oh they lead disgusting lives.

The Gloops they talk while eating,
and loud and fast they chew. 
And that is why I'm glad that I
am not a Gloop, are you?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Online and Social Media Dating: It's Exhausting

I decided to try online dating again.

Yes, again. I tried it out about a year ago and was met with mixed results. The bottom line became that I just wasn't into it and preferred to focus my social energy on my friend group. (And I went on a date with a guy who said he wanted to eat cats. Note: never EVER say that on a first date. Probably not on a fifth one either unless you're having a heart-to-heart about what lengths you would go to for survival. Not that your reason is you're curious about the taste. Just, ew.)

So I decided to try it again just to see. One reason was that I wanted to expand my range of meeting people. Two was that my BFF made me sign up and I didn't cancel the trial in time and now I'm stuck with a six-month membership. Well, if you're stuck with something you don't really want, you should use it? I guess?

Me: Hmm, a six-month membership. Really? What's the point?
My Brain: You might meet someone you like, remember how it worked for *Merida?
Me: Yeah? What about Velociraptor Man and Beard Dude? Or Zombie Girl and Bendy? Didn't work out for them!
My Brain: All of those people were and are acting within a social construct, meaning they're looking but not ready to accept love, which is why their relationships aren't working out-
Me: Shut up, I hate you.
My Brain: If you can't first love yourself then who will love you?
My Brain: Point is, you should use the membership, really try, and see what happens.
Me: I take no responsibility for the fallout, got it?
My Brain: Fair enough.
Me: While we're talking, if you're so smart why am I not in a relationship yet?
My Brain: talk to yourself?
Me: .....oh yeah.

As you can tell I was off to a great start. So, despite inner turmoil I constructed a dating profile. I pulled some of my best pictures, a few of my not-so-great ones, and mixed them all together with a witty and compelling personal story to make readers interested in me as a person...
     Welcome to my profile, be warned, if you spontaneously fall in love can't say that I didn't warn you! Okay, obnoxious tagline out of the way...
Well, maybe not as compelling as all that.

So, two months in, here's what I've found.

Online dating is, in a word, exhausting.

The sheer amount of profiles, the names and interests. The people that I message who don't message back. The people who message me that I refuse to message back. The people that message me on the same day ten other people message me and I simply don't have the time to go through them all. The weeks where no one messages me and where I go through loads of self-doubt and loathing. It all happens.

While I can't say I've found a relationship or even been on any dates yet, here's what I can say to those looking for advice, male or female. (If you don't want the advice then too bad, you're stuck reading this so ha! Wait, don't click out! Don't leave meeeee!)

1. Be interesting. Put something in your personal story that makes me smile, makes someone else smile, frown, laugh, basically anything more than...
          "Hey, I'm new to this online thing but thought I'd give it a try! Haha. Don't know what else to say but yeah, I'm interested in a lot of things, message me if you want to know more!"
          I mean, seriously? You're basically forcing me to make a decision on whether to talk to you off your pictures so you better hope you look like a freaking supermodel because I'm sure not talking to you for your amazing personality or way with words at this point. Tell me about your Doctor Who or Psych obsession. How you accidentally pantsed your sister at a football game once. On a scale of one to Heath Ledger as the Joker how much you love ice cream. Just pull a bit of your personality out and let it shine. Or sizzle. Or die like a sparkler on the 4th of July. Whatever, just say something!

2. Put up a Good Picture. Please. Don't leave your profile picture blank, otherwise I'm forced to assume you're a 57 year old pedophile who looks like Christopher Walken and sleeps with his mother's dead ashes at night.

3. Don't Take It Personally if They Don't Message You Back. Flipping to third person here, so you wrote a cute and flirty one-liner and sent it off. And...they never messaged you back. "What was wrong with that?" you cry in frustration. "Why don't the people I'm interested in get back to me?" Answer; they're busy. They got ten other messages that day. Their dog died. Reruns of The Office are on. Whatever, don't take it personally.

4. Do Take It Personally If They Don't Message You Back. All you did was send a smiley face and say "Hey."? Or, "Hey, I like your smile."? Don't do that. Don't be that person. Remember rule #1? Be interesting. If someone is forced to pick and choose who they interact with that day, they're going to pick the person who decided to tell them about how they went on a trip to Sochi. Or a trip to their backyard. Or how they pantsed their sister at a football game. Anything that is more interesting then a 'hey'. Take it personally and change what you're doing.

5. Look Within Your Age Range. Seriously, all you 35 year old males, there are tons of 35 year old women out there who love running marathons and cooking and would love to meet an attractive, smart male who is their age. What are you doing messaging me? Now I'm not ruling out that age differences can work. For example, Benedict Cumberbatch is 37 and I think we would work very well together. However, in online dating you need to be able to establish common ground, (any dating really) and at this point we grew up in different decades and didn't even watch the same cartoons! Oh, and all you 18-20 year olds who are messaging me, what are you thinking? I've got siblings your age and that's just weird.
          Honestly, a large age difference can make it hard to connect with your partner. Relationships are based on common ground and mutual respect. If you're male, don't look beyond 5 or so years younger and most likely 2-3 years older. If you're female, 5 years or so older and 2-3 years younger. This is a maturity thing, and there's a reason the majority of people stay within this range. Age combinations other than this can work, but usually don't.

6. Have a Sense of Humor About It. Now, this isn't saying that you need to be funny. Just don't take it too seriously and be able to laugh at all the things that happen. For example, I got a message from a guy who told me instantly that he wanted to lock me up in his basement. Well, not really, here's the actual message:
Hello Dear,
How are you doing today?
I believe you are doing great!
I must confess,that your profile is simple and honest.Am confident that we are a great match.Hopefully you reply me to witness the birth of a wonderful,loving,caring and honest relationship that will last forever till death do us part.The Lord is our guide and protection.
Till I hear from you.
Stay blessed.

I heard once that you shouldn't be discouraged if you have stalkers or creepers. Just because they're stalkers doesn't mean they have bad taste! Roll with it, laugh, move on, and for heaven's sake don't message these ones back.

7. Look for A Connection Through Communication. In the end, we're all doing this so we can meet someone that we could spend the rest of our lives with. We've all got that common ground, so take that into account. When you're talking to someone, keep that in mind. Think about how hard this journey's been for you. It's been just as hard for them, if not harder. Make an effort to reach out, speak to the other person, and really connect. You'll be rewarded greatly, and the amount of effort you put in is what you'll get out of it.

That's all I've got to say. Looking through all the profiles and getting the constant rejection as well as the constant interaction is exhausting. You may think it's not worth it but in the end, you're learning something with each interaction, each date, and that helps get you one step closer to your goal in the end. So many people get burned out and swear off dating. Don't be that person, take a step back if you need to and enjoy the ride. Mr or Mrs right could be right around the corner, that next profile, and you wouldn't want to miss out! Besides, at the very least you'll get some good stories out of it.

*Notes: All names have been changed for privacy and comedy's sake. Also I've been away for awhile. Not really away, more like, just busy doing other stuff. If you want the end of the Sherlock story, message me. It was getting the lowest views so I stopped posting it. Can't promise I won't go away again, busy with school and work and such, also actually writing a book which takes up writing time, but anyway, hope you enjoyed the post!*