Crunching Crisis


Arizona has cactus, Camelback Mountain, and wonderful Mexican food.

Arizona has cactus, Camelback Mountain, and wonderful options for good Mexican food. It also has very loud chips.


Jerry and I enjoyed a delicious lunch at a cozy booth in one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. We had no indication a problem would erupt. All seemed well.

The serving staff set a nearby long table for a large party. Perhaps a birthday, I thought.

Traditional Mexican decor with cheerful flair surrounded us in the dimly-lit room.  Jerry chatted on about the special qualities of a Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle.

A rumbling, mumbling, scuffing sound soon interrupted us as a troop of junior high kids marched in and took seats at the long table located next to our booth.

My attention wandered to the party at the long table. I noticed an adult woman in her fifties among the menagerie of adolescence. With everyone seated, the woman announced to the group how pleased she was with the students and their accomplishment as students of the month. She said she had letters written by their teachers and commenced to read the letters aloud. I could only hear snippets of the letters, such as “she has a big heart” or “does well in school.” The chattering din of other diners and the piped-in Mexican music from the speakers above drowned the woman out.

“Venimos todos con gusto y placer a felicitarte…”

The woman,  perhaps the principal or school counselor, didn’t know the students at the table. She asked one girl with long blond hair, “Is your real name Breezy?”  The girl nodded her head yes.

My thoughts drifted. I wondered what made her parents choose the name Breezy.

“What shall we name our daughter? And did you notice how breezy it is today? Oh, oh, I’ve got a name!”

Or, “I love Febreze. It’s so fresh-smelling.  Say, what about Febrezy for our daughter’s name? Maybe call her Breezy for short, since Feb sounds like a month?”

My focus returned to our lunch. Jerry and I resumed our conversation.

La Casa Blanca

La Casa Blanca in Chandler, Arizona.


Suddenly Jerry blurts out, “I can’t stand it! I can’t listen to that kid crunching on chips one more second!”

Steam belched from Jerry’s ears, his face grew purplish-red and his eyes cast a fiery glow. I wondered who could be the source of Jerry’s irritation. I peered over at the table next to ours. A boy, with scraggly hair hanging over his eyes and ears, shoved chips in his mouth like he hadn’t eaten in six months.  He sat about two feet from our table.

Then I heard it. “KA-RUNCH, KA-RRRRRRUNCH.” It echoed in the room like a sonic boom. Followed by “CHOMP, SMACK, SMACK.”

Crunching of chips can break the sound barrier.

Crunching of chips can cause the desire for ear plugs. 

I said to Jerry in my calm voice, which I can have at times, “Why don’t you wait in the car for me, and I’ll pay the bill.” We had finished our lunch.  And if not for the Crunching Crisis, we might have stayed longer.

I glanced over at the crunching boy and noticed he had corralled the chips and bean dip to himself. With the chips placed in front of him, he wolfed them down with ravenous zeal. “KA-RUNCH.”

Jerry has always had a noise sensitivity to certain sounds. The sound of crunching and smacking of food leads Jerry to a state of sheer madness.

After paying the bill, I found Jerry resting in the lobby. His eyes appeared calm once again and the steam had subsided.

“Jerry,” I said, “the next time we come here, let’s ask for a booth in the corner far from the other tables.”

“Great idea,” Jerry said.

And so we learned another life lesson, “Never sit in a booth in the middle of a restaurant if you want peace and quiet while telling your wife about the special features of a Harley.”

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