Tag Archives: toothpicks

38. Toothpicks or When Rednecks Accessorize

16 Jun

At many a Southern eatery, you’ll find a toothpick dispenser next to the cash register. Look for it by the used-to-be-complimentary Andes mints that they now want five cents for. Cheap bastards. But, hey, at least the toothpicks are still free.

I’m not sure how this tradition got started. What am I Wikipedia? But I really wish I could put an end to it. There are few things less appetizing than seeing people pick their teeth in public. Which is why I don’t understand how restaurant owners can recklessly leave toothpicks lying around knowing that the toothpickers will surely be seen by incoming customers.

I’m always tempted to say to the server, “I WAS going to have the filet mignon, but now I’d just like some Sprite and saltines.” But as a former waitress, I try to keep the snarky comments to a minimum. And tip big.

Seriously, people, tooth picking – like nose or belly button picking – ought to be done in private. That’s what bathrooms are for. Ok, that’s not their primary purpose, but still.

What’s maybe even worse than actively plucking food particles is those people who walk around with a toothpick in their mouth ALL THE TIME. Like they never know when they’ll happen upon corn on the cob and must be prepared.

At tote-sum stores in the South, they sell FLAVORED toothpicks for chain toothpickers who presumably aren’t into the natural woody flavor. Cinnamon is popular, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen mint. Maybe even wint-o-green.

Back in junior high, toothpick chewing was popular for about a week. If I recall correctly, we made our own with cinnamon oil. Where we got the cinnamon oil, I don’t know. That doesn’t seem like something they’d regularly stock at Kroger.

Thankfully, some teacher or concerned parent decided that this was a nasty habit/choking hazard, so toothpicks earned the spot of bubble gum’s wicked step-sister. And I was spared from what might have been months of looking like a hayseed. Whew!

What’s your stance on tooth picking in public?

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