Yesterday I wrote about a dilemma I faced at a small restaurant: whether to sit next to people who were talking so loudly I wouldn’t be able to have a conversation with my dinner companion or to sit a few feet from an aggravated open-mouth chewer who was in my line of sight and who would wreck my appetite if I looked.
I compared it to Odysseus’ dilemma of having to navigate close to either Scylla, the multi-headed, sailor-eating monster, or Charybdis, the giant mouth in the sea that could swallow ships in its whirlpool. Odysseus decided to sail to close to Scylla figuring that maybe he could escape with the loss of a few men instead of sailing close to Charybdis and risk losing the entire ship.
My call? Obviously I couldn’t control loud talkers or an open-mouth masticator–all I could control was myself. I couldn’t shut off my ears, but I could avert my gaze–even if the gaping maw I didn’t want to see was within arm’s length. So I turned away from the human food processor and averted my eyes. Yes, I could still hear the chewing and smacking, but I focused on what my dinner companion was saying and that did the trick. And–miracle of miracles–just as our food arrived, Mr. Cuisinart and his companion got their check and left. (Not before he let out an audible, good-bye burp, of course, but he was gone nonetheless.) Odysseus should have been so lucky.