awkward moments: simul sip

So there we were, sitting at one of those rustic wooden tables Korean restaurateurs are all too fond of, the four of us from work nibbling on the various panchan, everyone attacking the dried anchovies the place was particularly well known for. I was getting thirsty from the plethora of salty and msg laden food and reached for the ceramic cup in front of me that held the steaming corn scented water. But oh no, Mrs. Park had the same idea and grabbed her drink. In what felt like slow motion, we raised the cups to our respective mouths and sipped.

The simultaneous sip or simply “simul sip,” I thought was something that everyone had an issue with, kind of like farting or eating an ice cream cone in public. OK, so maybe the latter isn’t much of a problem for most folks, though it should be, nevertheless, I’ll get to that one later in another installment of “awkward moments.”

I first became aware of the simul sip at the splintery lunch benches in second grade. I hated lunchtime; it was our 45 minutes of supposed freedom that felt like an eternity. That’s when I had to pretend that I liked the other kids, when I was actually getting sick to my stomach by their egregious eating habits.

It all started with Lisa Long. She was blabbing away while munching on Cheetos. Her fingertips were orange and she’d periodically suck the powdery substance off making a kissing noise after every cleansing. Anyway, at some point in her monologue on the value of colored pencils over crayons—who would have thought?—out of her mouth came a glob of salmon hued saliva that landed on my leg.

As grossed out as I was, I remained calm like the stoic seven year old I prided myself to be. I didn’t want Lisa to feel bad so the Cheeto juice lied there on my bare leg stretching with my every movement. It eventually trailed down the side of my skinny little thigh and onto the bench.

I grabbed my box of Yoo-hoo as a distraction and took a sip, but across the table Melanie Broussard was taking a sip of her milk. Startled by the synchronicity, I quickly stopped drinking and returned to what was now a faint orange streak on my leg. The lesser of two evils, I thought.

Present day attempts to thwart such awkwardness have helped maintain my sanity. I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting if someone’s ready to take a drink and I’ll try my best to refrain from quaffing at that time. If I am about to pick up my cup—maybe I’ve already touched it—and then someone’s got to pick up theirs, I'll linger a bit. This works especially well with hot tea so I can pretend I’m using it to warm my hands. But then I sense the person across from me is doing the same thing. I wonder if they are also aware of the simul sip phenomenon. In such cases, I will quickly raise the cup or glass or mug or whatever holds the quenching liquid to my mouth, ever so quickly, to avoid an awkward moment and I’ll satisfyingly take a solo sip. What I failed mention, however, is that hot tea and the hurry drink, usually result in burnt tongue, but again, it’s the lesser of two evils.

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