Article posted Wednesday, January 15, 2014 4:27pm

Dear Mary Pat,

I have a friend who is an extremely loud “smacker.” Whether chewing food, drinking a beer, or sipping coffee, this person tends to make some sort of noise in relation to their consumption. How do I let them know without sounding rude that their table manners leave something to be desired?

Ready to Smack Back

Fish Creek, WI

Dear Ready to Smack Back,

This is a tough one. You are most likely going to sound rude. If I were you, I would try to make a little joke out of it. This of course will only work if you know them well. If not, you will have to suffer in silence or find another lunch companion. Say something like, “Hey, why don’t you try sipping that beer instead of slurping it?” or “Can you keep it down over there? I can’t hear myself think while you are chewing that sandwich!” Be sure to offer a winning smile and maybe even a wink to soften the blow.

The only exception to this rule is if you are both men. Men can usually get away with saying incredibly rude things to their friends. They soften it up by saying “dude” first (example: “Dude, your breath smells like the backside of my dog.”) This is not an attack on men by the way. I somewhat envy their ability to be blunt, unless of course their blunt comments are directed at me. Then, I reserve the right to be hurt or offended, possibly both.

I wish you the best of luck with this problem. Please let me know if you have any success in attacking the issue head on.

Mary Pat