Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Mouths and gatherings

I have found a most helpful marker to enable me to distinguish between the gatherings I can manage gracefully and the ones where my stamina is likely to give out and I might 
a) behave badly 
b) feel the need to leave, urgently and fast  
c) be so drained that I then behave badly all the rest of the day.

I can tell if it’s likely to work out by whether the people’s mouths are open or closed.

The kind of gathering where people have their mouth open is the sort where I am likely not to cope.  I mean the kind of event where people look like this.   If they are looking like this or this, I’ll probably be OK. 

If the socialising is taken a stage further and as well as showing their teeth and red glistening bits of their mouths and standing too close they are also smacking their lips over food, or eating with their mouths open in demonstration of how delicious something is, or making loud wet kissing noises in greeting each other, I definitely shouldn’t be there because it freaks me out even when it’s only on telly.

I have found it very helpful to arrive at this discovery because it helps me sort things out.  At our church, the 10.30 service is the variety where people have their mouths open a lot – at the peace they come towards you with that look, and there is a significant amount of socialising where people look like this.  At the 8.00am service, on the other hand, though the people are still friendly they mostly look like this (only with bigger spaces between them), and I know it’ll be OK. 

I miss Quaker meeting, where their mouths are mostly shut tight all the time unless they have something purposeful to say, which I found very soothing to the spirit.  But I still think I was right to decide to worship in the place my family can feel comfortable – I just have to identify which events to be at, and checking how the people do their mouths is a good rule of thumb.


Bean said...

I loved this post, still chuckling at all of the images!! Ember you are a hoot!!!
On a serious note, I find quite, prayerful gatherings to much more my cup of tea.
I find many social situations difficult and stressful, what to say, what not to say, how to stand, sit, if food it involved it adds a whole new level of stress because just as you take a bite of something someone invariably asks you a question and you have to spend what seems like an eternity trying to chew up and swallow what you just popped into your mouth before you can speak, very embarrassing :)

Blessings to you,


Pen Wilcock said...


Ganeida said...

Oh Ember. I laughed so hard. That is me, behaving badly because I've been forced to socialize with the mouth open sorts! MY children accuse me of being anit~social. My defense is I'm just trying to ensure I behave well. lol I will be sniggering all day over this.

Happy Birthday, BTW. Hope it was a good one.

Pen Wilcock said...


Aha! I'm in good company, then!

Thank you for my birthday wishes but my birthday is in the summer - you must have missed someone else's! x

Julie B. said...

I got a chuckle out of this too, Ember. I've made a mental note now. If we ever meet I must not show my teeth, should keep my mouth closed as much as possible, don't laugh, and don't eat anything. That will certainly be a life-changer for me. :)

Ganeida said...

Ah, Summer here..;P I was reading your post on God's birthday gift & thought it was recent. Never mind. They will keep till your summer.

Rapunzel said...

My self-appointed task for the New Year is to find a place to worship where I feel at home.
I will take your good counsel and watch the mouths. I think you are on to something here!

Pen Wilcock said...

@ Julie:
No, no, you can eat - just keep your mouth shut once it has the food inside it, and don't make wet lip-smacking noises. Modest crunching is allowed ;)

@ Ganeida - summer! I love summer :0D

@ Rapunzel - let me know how you get on and what observations you make!

paula said...

Haha! What about the guy texting in church??

We Quakers miss you, too, dear Pen.

Pen Wilcock said...


Hawthorne said...

Ha ha! Love it! Haven't posted in time to wish you a happy Christmas, so will wish you a Blessed New Year instead x x

Pen Wilcock said...

Happy New Year to you, Hawthorne! x