…I Am Very Tasteful

It seems that as I meander my way through life that I encounter whiffs of my past. You know, I’ll smell a perfume, or a pie, or grape bubble gum and I remember a time when I was growing up. And I started thinking about this. Why don’t tastes remind me of anything?
As I thought about it, I began to remember all the flavors I encountered growing up. There was the usual; an envelope, a postage stamp, liver and onions, or grape bubble gum.
And then there was the all the other stuff.
I don’t exactly remember how old I was, but I’m pretty sure it was before I was in school. My brothers and I were outside playing in the dirt. Somehow we had spoons which we were using to shovel dirt into piles or into each other’s hair.
It wasn’t long before one of us asked the age old question. How does dirt taste? It was a natural question; we were sitting down together, with spoons, kind of hungry. I decided there was only one way to find out. So I ate a spoonful of dirt. It must have had some sand mixed in with it, because its flavor was a lot like sand which I must have already tried, only earthier. I’m pretty sure I swallowed it too. I decided it wasn’t bad, but it must not have been that good since I don’t remember eating any more. Well, not on purpose with a spoon anyway. Later we all used our spoons to eat a spoonful of sugar, which would have made the dirt taste better, we decided.
There were other things I experienced. Once on a hot fall day my class had done something to offend the teacher. So we were all sitting with our heads lying on our desks. I was pretty bored, and hot. And I got to wondering what a desk would taste like.
It’s a lot like salty, varnished wood. It was okay. Not as good as the wooden spoons you got to eat the little cups of ice cream with at the rodeo. But now I know where the salty tang probably came from and I’m not going to try anymore desks. I did try salt right out of the shaker. If salt was salty on food, it was even more salty by itself.
I had to check the white paste in kindergarten. Somebody told me it was okay to eat it. So we ate some. It seemed to stick to our mouths. It didn’t have the slippery texture likes Elmer’s Glue. But it did have more consistency than that glass bottler of mucous paste with the rubber lid. That stuff wasn’t so good, but it was fun to chew on the lid. And do you remember watercolor paint in the black trays? It didn’t seem to have much taste other than the bristles of the brush but it did turn my tongue a cool color.
You know if a youngster is curious about flavors, he’s curious about bathrooms too. So one quiet afternoon, I was all alone in the bathroom. It was kind of interesting to see all the neat stuff Mom and Dad had in those cabinets way up high. There were razor blades, and hair stuff and one thing that was in a colorful bottle that smelled really inviting. It had kind of a sweet, spicy fragrance. You know I couldn’t resist. I lifted the bottle to my lips and squeezed. A bitter tasting liquid filled my mouth. I spit and spit into the bathtub but I just couldn’t get rid of that foul bitterness that was puckering my mouth.
I guess when I think of it, the world seemed like a big place full of unique things to experience. Not all of them were a good idea though. I was about six when I had mangled my fingers in a bicycle wheel or something. My Mom sprayed my scraped up fingers with a liberal dose of Bactine and sent me to bed at the regular time. This stuff sure smelled good. My fingers throbbing and I decided to sample that stuff by sucking on them. When I figured out it wasn’t as refreshing as it smelled and that Band-Aids actually were too plasticky, I thought maybe I had gone too far in my quest to sample all the world had to offer. I crawled out of bed to the living room where my Mom was watching our black and white TV and ironing or something. She asked me what I was doing out of bed, but then looked back at the TV.
I asked her if I could die from eating Bactine.
“Yes, of course. Don’t eat it.” Mom said as she watched the TV. “Get back in bed!”
Well it was a long night. I kept waiting to die, but I guess I didn’t eat enough because I never died.
You know if a youngster is curious about flavors, he’s curious about bathrooms too. So one quiet afternoon, I was all alone in the bathroom. It was kind of interesting to see all the neat stuff Mom and Dad had in those cabinets way up high. There were razor blades, and hair stuff and one thing that was in a colorful bottle that smelled really inviting. It had kind of a sweet, spicy fragrance. You know I couldn’t resist. I lifted the bottle to my lips and squeezed. A bitter tasting liquid filled my mouth. I spit and spit into the bathtub but I just couldn’t get rid of that foul bitterness that was puckering my mouth.
When I regained the composure of a worldly eight year old I walked out into the kitchen where my mother was doing something. I ventured a question, trying not to show my puckery mouth.
“What’s that stuff in the bathroom in that red bottle that smells good?”
“What?”
“Up in the cabinet over the bathtub.” I explained. “It kinda smells like candy, sort of.”
“Oh, that’s your father’s deodorant.” I didn’t at the time know what deodorant was. But now I know and I wouldn’t recommend putting it anywhere other than your armpits.
The problem was I wasn’t cured of my habit. A few years later I got a chemistry set for Christmas. And you know I wanted to know what that litmus paper tasted like. So I licked it. Almost immediately I was filled with taster’s remorse. But when I was in high school I found out it was okay to lick litmus paper, to see if you had acidic spit.
Of course I also found out I shouldn’t have tried the sulphur.
Over the years I managed to run my tongue over tree bark, the end of a nine volt battery, wall to wall carpeting, spruce trees, ladders,(both wooden and metal), nails, telephone rotary dials, corn stalks, dog hair, saddles, shoe leather, my glasses, bicycle handle bars, handle bar grips, bicycle spokes, innertubes and lots of grape bubble gum. This is not an exhaustive list you understand, but it will give you some idea of how a prolific taste tester I was.
Now that you’ve read this, maybe you should keep it to yourself. I don’t really want people knowing all the things that have encountered my taste buds.
But there’s no need to worry about me. I was so young I can barely remember tasting a booger in front of my grandmother. She immediately scolded me. “Paul! Don’t eat your boogers!” And I never have since. But I still remember what they taste like.

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