Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bad habits

I have indulged in (and fortunately mostly overcome) a lifetime of bad habits. Most all of my bad habits can be attributed to the fact that my mother didn't nurse me (you have to blame somebody) and have involved smoking, eating, drinking, sucking my thumb (until I was thirteen when I replaced my thumb with a cigarette) - oral things. When I was young, one of my bad habits was eating paper. For those of you who have never had this predilection, let me give you a run-down of paper flavors:

Notebook paper is very bitter - the ink, I guess.

Tissue paper is very bland, but balls up nicely in your mouth.

The paper in old books actually tastes musty.

Sucker sticks can give hours of pleasure as you unwind them. They don't have much taste.

Napkins make nice after dinner treats. Especially if you've wiped chocolate ice cream on them.

Construction paper is salty.

And speaking of construction paper, this is the event that caused me to stop eating paper:

In kindergarten, I was on the swings, contentedly swinging and chewing on a piece of black construction paper that I had surreptitiously torn off the corner of my art project. I saw my teacher glance over at me and then she yelled, MARY ANNE LEWIS (for this was my name in kindergarten) WHAT ARE YOU EATING? And she proceeded to grab me from the swing, fish her fingers around in my mouth and retrieve the offending piece of paper. Then she rushed me to the building and had me wash my mouth out with lots and lots of milk. What was all the fuss about?? Humiliating!

After my mother came and got me and gave me a stern talking-to about the chemicals in paper, I finally cried. And I only ate sucker sticks after that.

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