To say I was a unusual child is a vast understatement. I had weirdnesses that I cannot begin to cover, no matter how many blogs about my childhood I eventually write. My poor mother had me at 40, child number seven. She was about the age I am now when I was peaking in my peculiar ways. Nowadays they would call me “learning different,” back then….I was just one royal pain in the ass.
First grade for me was hard, very hard. Not in grades mind you….I was tested and got to skip kindergarten altogether. In first grade, everything came very easy too, maybe I was bored and that led to the problem. What could the problem be, you ask? I puked every day for the first two months. I was a puking machine. I puked in the cafeteria, I puked in the hall, and I puked in the nurse’s office. I even puked all over poor Mrs. Brown, my first grade teacher whom I adored.
My mother took me to our family physician, Dr. Bullock, and he could find nothing wrong with me. She was told it was a nervous stomach and they tried to pinpoint the problem. The doctor asked me a series of questions. It was determined that I had a problem eating in a large room with other kids. I had a problem with the cafeteria women and the food that they slopped on my tray. I had issues with the food my mother packed in my lunch-box and its temperature. I had issues with food in general.
Looking at me now, an overweight baby-boomer, it is hard to believe isn’t it? I have had food issues my entire life. At the age of three I ate chicken noodle soup for an entire year…and nothing else. At the age of four I ate canned green beans and corn for an entire year….and nothing else. I was predictable…..if nothing else.
So here I was at six and puking my guts out at Harrison Lane Elementary. My mother caved in….she was tired for Pete’s sake!! She was forty-six and had seven kids…including two sets of twins…eighteen months apart!!! I was lucky my mother didn’t live in a mental institution by the time I came along at 10 pounds, 14 ounces. My mother made an arrangement with the school officials to come pick me up for lunch every day and return me back in time for the afternoon session.
Lord knows Mrs. Brown didn’t object and the Principal, Mr. Arnold was tired of seeing me hunkered over every trash bin in the main hall when the lunch bell sounded. So every day at 11:15am my mother Jewel, would be sitting in the parking lot, reading the paper, and waiting for the pain in the ass, her lucky number seven.
My pattern was continuing…..if it was 1968, that meant fishsticks. Yeah, you got it right….I ate Mrs. Paul’s Fishsticks for an entire year. The sticks would hit the plate at my house on East Oak Drive at about 11:30am…the same time my mother’s favorite daytime TV show started. This is Jeopardy….with Art Fleming, your host, the announcer’s voice would bark over our television set. Mr. Fleming hosted the game show from 1964-1975…coinciding with my dietary wasteland years. Our TV set was basically the entire north wall of our living room. The console was as big as a 1965 Ford Fairlane, and long squiggly lines would run continuously across the black and white screen.
I would crunch on my fishsticks as my mother would yell her answers in the direction of Mr. Fleming. On occasion I would have to remind her to phrase her answer in the form of a question. This is probably where I developed my love of trivia and all other useless information that I have stored in my head to this day. Most days I cannot remember what I had for dinner the previous night, but I can tell you what picture won the Oscar in 1959…it was Ben Hur.
You are probably wondering…did I eat tartar sauce with the sticks? Hush puppies? French fries perchance? No….just fishsticks…every day, at 11:30am for twelve months.
About the time I lost my appetite for Mrs. Paul’s I was placed on a new medication that Dr. Bullock had found. It was a miracle drug….it stopped my puking at school completely!! I told my mother my nervous stomach was cured!! I could take the pill and eat anything she put in my lunch-box…within reason. I was so happy every day when my second grade teacher, Mrs. Short, would place the wonder drug on my pudgy little hand! Mrs. Short was tearfully happy too. She had lost the second grade teacher lotto regarding who would have to deal with the infamous pudgy puker.
My mother waited until I was in junior high before she told me it had a been a placebo, a simple sugar pill that had cured my tendency to hurl daily in the hallowed halls of good old Harrison Lane. By that time I had ended my proclivity for food binges and had actually started eating something different every day of the week….variety, imagine that?
Name the food products that are processed using a whitefish such as cod which have been battered, breaded, or deep-fried. They are commonly available in the frozen food section of supermarkets, and on children’s menus in family-oriented restaurants.
What are fishsticks Mr. Fleming? That, you little pain in the ass, ….is correct!