Mike Zielinski

Mike Zielinski

Except for people suffering from severe health issues, eating is no big deal.

After all, it’s something we’ve done since we were kids.

You would think that most people, once they graduate from the high chair, could eat without making a mess out of themselves and their environment.

Not me. I sometimes have issues with being a tidy eater.

I’m one of those people for whom food sticks to as if my chin, teeth, cheeks and clothes are somehow magnetized.

It seems I have food shrapnel clinging somewhere during every meal. Including my shirts and pants. No wonder I always seem to be hungry. Evidently, I’m wearing almost as much as I’m swallowing.

This, of course, can be terribly unappetizing to my lunch or dinner companions.

Nobody wants to converse with or look at some slob who has spinach stuck to an incisor, mashed potatoes glued to a (facial) cheek, gravy dripping from his chin, noodles pasted to his lips, a kernel of corn perched in a nostril, mustard on his collar and ketchup on his slacks.

Now you know why I never went on many dinner dates.

OK, I’m exaggerating just a bit. That’s what humor writers do – embellish reality just a tad to elicit a few cheap chuckles. And I’m definitely cheap, especially when I suddenly and conveniently develop a case of short arms whenever the dinner check arrives.

Still, I’m serious when I say that I could be a neater eater. Compounding my lack of fork/spoon-mouth coordination, I have a tendency to slump.

My wife is always complaining that I slump over when I eat. Perhaps I do it subconsciously so my tie keeps the shrapnel off my shoes. Actually, I think my slumped posture minimizes the food fallout by minimizing the distance between my mouth and plate.

Granted, I could further shorten that span by lifting the plate to my mouth and slurping food right into my mouth. Efficient, yes. Gross, yes.

Sadly, that style of eating has not been in vogue since the heyday of the Visigoths, who evidently never read Miss Manners because they were too busy sacking Rome.

Truth be told, sometimes at home I will finish off soup by drinking from the bowl. But I’ve yet to muster the courage to mimic that at a restaurant.

Of course, I could wear a lobster bib or even a painter’s drop cloth while dining out, but that would make a spectacle of myself.

After all, as a sloppy eater here in Berks County, I don’t exactly stand out. With the way people love to eat around here, I’m not the only one who sits pockmarked with food shrapnel at area restaurants.

In fact, I’ve seen you and I know who you are. So please don’t make fun of me. Leave those honors to my wife, who, of course, is a flawless eater.

Well, they say opposites attract.

Mike Zielinski, a resident of Berks County, is a columnist, novelist, playwright and screenwriter.

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