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Ms. Manners

Posted by Mummy Dearest on Nov-8-2003

Our unexpected house guest is an utterly polite man, well mannered and neat, so while what I am about to say might sound catty, it isn’t. It’s more along the lines of ‘ minor cultural differences’.

Given the ages of our children- 10, 8 and 4- we are still working on table manners. Things such as keeping one’s mouth closed when it is full of food being chewed, not tucking a wad of one’s dinner into the side of one’s cheek like a squirrel and talking, slurping soup- you get the idea. And so our first meal together with our guest found the children raising their eyebrows and looking at me for answers.

For, I am guessing, the polite thing to do during a meal in China is to let out a steady stream of smack,smack, smacks.

I haven’t had much chance to speak to The Father privately this past week, but last night after dinner we found ourselves alone in the kitchen, having an after dinner smoke. So, The Father asked me, what do you think of the smack-smack-smacking ? Did you see The Girl’s reaction, I asked him, the first day ? You should have seen B. ( a man from Bangladesh who spent a week or so at our home while the kids and I were in the states), he told me, I finally had to tell him that he was in Europe, eat like a European and close your mouth.

Later on in the evening, we were all watching some late film together, drinking a glass of wine or two when our house guest decided to have an apple. Smack-smack-smack-smack-smack.

I had to leave the living room twice, being struck by an uncontrollable urge to laugh.


  1. Bridget Said,

    At least he likes your cooking….

  2. Edwinek Said,

    Makes you wonder whether Confucius smacked like that too. And isn’t this an excellent example to show the kids how people from different cultures might sometimes have funny customs, and still be nice people. When I started to get lots of contacts with Poles, I was amazed at how they apologize for every little thing, often things nobody else could possibly see or hear. It could be very funny at times, with apologies flying across the room at high rates and me in the middle wondering what it was all about.

  3. Catherine Said,

    I have to leave the room when someone is smack-smacking an apple or anything else – because I just cannot stand it (I am rather irritable). I have a friend who has it worse than me – he can hardly bring himself to look at an apple.

    Wishing you a restful week.

  4. sue Said,

    Hi Catherine- I’m busy installing my software…yet again. I once had my computer die while installing FrontPage. I’ve just installed it again and have a very bad feeling indeed.

    Like if I turn this computer off, it will never go on again.

    Hope you had a fine weekend-

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