My son can have his stomach turned almost instantly. And by turned I mean this, if you do not wipe your mouth after eating, or if you show him a picture of a zombie, or if you generally mention anything of potential disgust then nausea will set in and any hope of his finishing the meal will end.
This is a problem since two of his siblings are ages 3 and 6 months, so the chances of his seeing something that could turn his stomach during a meal are about 99 percent.
Frankly, the whole situation used to infuriate me. My response was usually a less-than-rational, “You can control this. You need to man-up and eat!” That is until my wife put things into perspective for me by saying one word.
Let me tell you about bologna… I don’t like it.
When I was growing up, we went through a period of low economic means. We never went hungry or without, but certain changes had to be made. One of those changes was that bologna became our primary meat because it was cheap. So, as you can imagine, I have eaten bologna in every conceivable fashion.
I have had it raw, fried, baked, cubed in eggs and/or macaroni, in casseroles, pickled, and in soup.
Did you know you can add bologna to cake and make bologna gravy? I do. It’s not good.
I was content with my bologna meat existence until one day in the first grade. As I ate my bologna and mustard sandwich, I took a large first bite and apparently did not sever the meat completely, because as I pulled away I was greeted by the entire piece of bologna.
My perspective on the food changed instantly. Rather than an acceptable type of lunch meat, I discovered an unsavory food-like substance hanging from my mouth to my chin. It is almost impossible to describe. In that single moment, I became aware of bologna’s every impact on my senses.
Its texture was like an oiled sheet of gelatinous rubber. “Floppy” would be a word to describe its consistency, but even that does not express the almost symbiotic way the flesh-toned circle conformed to my chin. The smell, like a corpse soaked in vegetable oil.
Needless to say, I no longer like bologna.
In fact, the thought of it will make me nauseous to the point that I can’t eat. The smell… oh, yes, there is a smell… I can detect through a sealed package in a freezer.
It is not welcome in my home.
So now when my son sees food around someone’s mouth and has to get down on all fours to avoid hurling, I cut the boy a little more slack. I guess I better before he figures out that bologna will bring me to my knees right next to him.
Chris Donnelly is a working dad with four children. You can read him every Thursday on momaha.com
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