Some deaf people are noisy eaters.
Growing up, I would sometimes get stares from others if I was eating too noisy. It got to the point where during lunch at school I would try to eat as quietly as possible. I didn’t know what made noises and what didn’t, it was a guessing game. I never quite understood how teachers always knew when I was chewing gum or when I was trying to sneak in a bag of snack during class. I couldn’t figure out how my mom always knew when I was sneaking cookies out the kitchen. I didn’t know for a while that smacking my lips actually made a noise until someone told me. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how annoying a person slurping his/her drink could be.
I admit, I’m still a noisy eater at times. Sometimes I just like to make noises because I haven’t heard those noises before. Sometimes I forget.
Whenever I eat around a bunch of hearing people I become self conscious about how noisy I might be. It’s kind of embarrassing when a whole table becomes quiet and everyone looks at you.
A few years ago I read some deaf people’s experiences with being the only deaf person at their lunchroom table in school. They would either not eat, eat in the hallway, or eat really slowly. They didn’t want to be made fun of for eating too noisy, they didn’t want all the attention on them, etc. It can be embarrassing because you don’t know but everyone thinks you should somehow know.
Earlier tonight, I went to a presentation given by Dennis and Mark. I bought a bag of chips and a roast beef sub from Jimmy John’s to eat during the presentation. I sat back in the corner with my delicious supper. My first thought was to open the bag of chips and unwrap the sub before the presentation started so 40 people wouldn’t turn around and look at me. I got my food all laid out and ready as soon as the presentation started. I then started eating the chips and realized I probably should pour them out so that the bag wouldn’t make a noise every single time I grabbed a chip.
I did that and was surprised no one turned around. Hm, I must have been quieter than I thought I was. I started eating the chips and was trying to figure out how to eat them quietly then it dawned on me. Almost everyone there was deaf (most didn’t have CIs/HAs).
I relaxed, laid back in my chair, and crunched away on chips. Not once did anyone turn around to give me a dirty look for being a noisy eater.
After I was done with dinner, I was trying to mentally figure out the quietest way to clean up. Then I remembered I didn’t have to worry about that. So I just grabbed the sub wrap paper and crumpled it up into a ball and stuffed it into the potato chip bag…all with a big smile on my face.
As silly as it sounds, I really enjoyed that.
I was able to relax without worrying or wondering if I was bothering anyone around me. As a deaf person, it’s challenging to figure out what bothers and what doesn’t bother hearing people around me. I don’t want to be viewed as a rude or inconsiderate person for disturbing others.
Sometimes society is too judgmental and uptight. 🙂 Yes, I have been judged based on how noisy I eat.