Back in university, there was a guy who lived across the hall from me in residence. His name was Eric. Eric was clearly a nerd. Still, that was no reason not to like a guy. Lord knows I was in no position to judge (all wide-eyed and Timmins-haired). Some of the best people I know are nerds. So, in the first, fresh week of university life - my roomate and I decided we'd get to know our neighbours. We asked Eric and his roomate Matt if they wanted to go for dinner - hang out, get to know each other, make some new friends at university.
We walked over to the Eaton's Centre in downtown Toronto and grabbed a seat at a restaurant inside. Everything was going swimmingly. There we were - 4 freshmen - new to the city and the school, making good first impressions. Then Eric ordered the ribs.
Ribs. They are a messy food. Not usually a menu item you'd feel comfortable eating in front of new people. Sloppy, greasy, eat-with-your-hands...definitely not a first (or fourth) date food. Either way, Eric got the ribs. And the way that Eric proceeded to EAT his ribs is something I had not seen before and will (hopefully) never see again.
Eric - a slim, understated, dark-haired boy dove into those ribs like he'd never seen food. He squished each piece up to his face, smearing barbecue sauce all over his cheeks, gnawing every last thread of meat from the bone. He moaned in culinary ecstacy. He chewed, smacked and gulped his way through a massive pile of ribs like he was a blue ribbon food-eating champ at the county fair. Eric was oblivious to the 3 of us - sitting stunned - as we watched him chow down. It was honestly like watching a hyena tear through a zebra carcass.
What surprised me most was the fact that Eric never ONCE used his napkin--even a sleeve would have sufficed! The rib sauce was smeared all over his face, INCLUDING his forehead and it didn't seem to phase him that we were in a busy, public restaurant. Finally, I had to say something, which felt awkward considering we barely knew each other but....
"Eric? Why aren't you wiping your face?"
"It wastes time".
It wastes time. In other words, it impedes the food-eating process. The more time you spend being hygenic, the less time you have to smash food into your face. And once every scrap of food was gone from view (save the few meat bits stuck to his face) he stood up, smothered in sauce and casually strolled through the crowded restaurant to the bathroom. And that is where he washed his face. I'm sure if they had a shower, he would have. A total body experience, to say the least.
Why am I telling you this story today? Well, back then I didn't understand it. But now, 12 years later - I wonder if maybe Eric knew something we didn't. Maybe there was some sort of reason to his rhyme. Maybe he was in training for something..hurriedly packing in the nutrients to feed his brain so he could one day catapult himself into the upper echelon of nerd society.
Smart guy. Too bad about the ribsauce.