The Problem With Being Picky

I think I was told long ago that when I got older, I wasn’t going to be so picky about food and what-not.  Apparently, when I was just a young TKT, I used to eat anything and everything without question.

Mushrooms?  Sure.
Beets? Okay.
Fish/fish sticks? Why not?
Assorted creamy white sauces and such? Pile it on.

Somewhere in grade-school, I think my taste buds developed, or in my case, over-developed.  Suddenly, stuff that I used to chow down on became sheer culinary torture for me.  I remember on one instance having tuna salad put in front of me and was told I had to eat it.  I got a whiff of it and it was all over for tuna.  Never again.

Cut later to a dark kitchen hours later and there I was, still sitting at the table in front of the stinky mass of pasta and garbage.  I thought to my young self:

I can’t even pass this under my nose, let alone chew it.

I think my parents thought I’d give in and shovel it down, but I didn’t.  Eventually, it was bed time and off I went.  I was relieved and not even a little bit upset that I was going to bed without supper.

It’s safe to say that my over-active sense of smell has A LOT to do with my eating habits both then and now.  I also think having a choice (somewhere around 5th or 6th grade) had a big part in that, too.  I simply wouldn’t and couldn’t eat something that, in my mind, sucked.  I wish I could say that my mom and dad were right and that I’d try a lot of new things, but I just don’t.  Heck, they told me I’d develop a taste of coffee and I think that stuff (again) smells awful and the taste?  Good lord.  It’s hot bean juice, people!  Gross.

But, being wired this way isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Twice in the last couple of weeks, we’ve had dinner with friends.  On one occasion, my friend’s wife was worried about bringing a dish over to our house in fear of me not eating it or whatever.  While the TKT of yesteryear would’ve said: “Good, keep that @#%^ at home, then!”  The grown up “mature” me felt pretty awful.

Seriously?  People are worried about what I will and won’t eat?

The same thing happened this past Friday, too.  Some friends had us over for dinner and the hosts were worried about what to make for us.

Man, I’m the worst.  And the horrible part?  It’s like my reputation as a picky eater has spread like some sort of zombie outbreak! (sorry, I had to)  It’s like EVERYONE knows about my pathetic eating habits.

If there’s a point to all of this (and I swear there is), there’s some karma involved.  My mom, at some point in the past (during one of my many dinner-time stand-offs) warned me: “Just wait until you have kids.”

At the time, I laughed.

Yeah, right.  I wouldn’t make my kid eat something as rancid as beets (floating in nasty mahogany-colored water!) or force them to eat something that smells as rotten and nose-puckering as tuna-fish.  And cottage cheese?  Aren’t there curdles in cottage cheese???


Also, mushrooms are neither plant nor animal and are grown (typically) in feces.  Bon appetit!

Karma strikes: Many, many years later…my son Travis is born.  When he’s a toddler, he eats almost everything we put in front of him.  Now, at the ripe age of 5.5, he’s got a menu of stuff he’ll eat about as long as his hair (which is short, BTW).  He doesn’t eat hamburgers (what???), he plugs his nose when we go to Arby’s (whoa!), and he thinks vegetables are his mortal enemy.  Not just some vegetables…nearly ALL of them.  Eating dinner at our house (and at the houses of guests) is what many would consider…a nightmare.  If something is cooked a little too much, it’s ‘burnt’.  If there’s a crust, he won’t eat it.  He gets mad when his food falls apart as he’s eating it.

Well played, Mom.  You were right.  This picky eater thing?  It stinks.

So, I find myself in the odd position of trying new things in front of Travis.

An example: I’ve never had strawberry shortcake.  Yes.  I know.  I’m a mutant.

But, I figured the time was now.  At a friend’s house for dinner, that was the dessert of choice.  Even though it has one of the things on it (white creamy) that is like garlic to a vampire, I dug in.  It was (seriously, friends) absolutely delicious.  I felt like a door somewhere in my childhood had opened.  I posted an update about it on my dumb Facebook wall.  I wanted to share my “new” discovery with the rest of the world.  I turned to Travis to see if he wanted to try a bite.  It had fruit.  It had cake.  It had whipped cream.

Can’t fail, right?

“No,” Travis said.

I looked at the kid and I realized what I had unleashed unto the world.  To quote the “Cats in the Cradle” song:

My boy was just like me.

So, long story short?  I’m trying.  I really am.  Sure, I may still order the EXACT same thing whenever I got to a specific restaurant and I may never put another mushroom in my mouth for as long as I live, but I’m going to sort of give it my best.  It’s weird to be standing on the other side of this many years (almost 38, confound it) and look back at a mini-me of sorts who is likely much, much pickier than I could ever have been and realize that my parents were almost like prophets of some sort way back when.

The funny thing?  Jake, at 1.5 year old, is a virtual garbage disposal.  It’ll be interesting to see how long THAT lasts.

I give it a couple years.