Feed on

I’m given to understand that pica, the compulsion to eat non-food items, is fairly common in children. Sometimes it is a symptom of a dietary deficiency, but sometimes it falls into a very broad category I like to call, “little kids are inscrutable little weirdos.”

I should know. I was an enthusiastic little weirdo myself at a point.

Obviously, I’ve already admitted my erstwhile paste-eating tendencies – at least twice. But I feel that I should elaborate a bit on the proper technique, since it’s considered rather chic to have techniques for things. There are techniques for brewing the ideal cup of coffee or tea, how to create the optimal slice of toast, and how best to savor a roasted potato. These techniques are often completely esoteric and entirely subjective, and so based on being full of useless and nebulous opinions, I’m going to hold forth on how best to eat paste.

Paste is best consumed in very small portions at a time, much like gjetost cheese, the flavor of which is best when it is shaved into paper thin bits. Paste comes with a built in server; the little whippy plastic spatula attached to the lid is perfect for scraping off a thin curl of subtly sweet and minty paste for the occasional snack. Under no circumstances whatsoever should you dig a big glob of paste out and nom it down like congealed Nacho cheese. The delicate flavor is entirely lost then!

Okay, on to other inappropriate things I ate when I was around 6 years old.

  • Paper – when I was a little rat, I was known to eat paper. The edges of my workbooks and notepads during my early years of elementary school were always gnawed to a greater or lesser extent. I never ate textbooks, library books, or my own books, but I had no compunctions about the throwaway workbooks or notebooks. I didn’t eat all of the paper I chewed. Some of it I just treated as flavorless, fibrous chewing gum. Mom griped me out more than once for leaving dried up wads of chewed up paper in the pockets of my jeans and jackets. Or for letting it go through the wash.  Mimeograph paper and the old, shiny Xerox paper were off the menu, however.  Both were incredibly foul and almost certainly rampantly toxic.  Though as lousy as they tasted, you’d have a hard day’s work ahead of you if you were indeed set out to poison yourself.
  • The binding of my Phonics workbook – Normally, I only shredded the edges of my workbooks and chewed on the shreds but I discovered that the glue holding my phonics workbook together was quite tasty, and by the end of my run in 1st grade, I could have convincingly palmed off the old “dog ate my homework” lie, if the state of my workbook was to be taken into consideration.

    I’m not entirely sure why it occurred me to taste and then later devour the bindings of my Phonics workbook, but I expect it had something to do with the scent of the glue. It had a similarly sweet mintiness that I associated with postage stamps, Publisher’s Clearinghouse stamps, and Kindergarten paste, so I must have made the logical inference that it would taste similarly. It did. And so bit by bit, I picked shreds of the binding loose and savored that delicious, sweet adhesive.

  • Bits of string – another short lived craze.  I ate bits of string and yarn for a while, but then, my overactive imagination suggested to me that the string might tie my guts up in knots and kill me, so I stopped doing that.  But for a brief, glorious while, I must say that I enjoyed the sensation of swallowing short lengths of fuzzy acrylic yarn.
  • Sand – another non-food item that I ate for a brief while, somewhere around age 6 or 7.  Not because it tasted particularly good, because I can’t say it had much of a flavor.  I just enjoyed the sensation of swallowing it, much like I had done with string.  But one of the older girls at school caught me in the act of wetting a finger, dipping it in dirt, and licking the mud off and informed me that I’d get worms.  I’d seen the cat when he had worms and wanted no truck with intestinal parasites, so I gave up eating dirt, too.

Nowadays, I’m a responsible adult who doesn’t eat anything not intended for human consumption. People look less and less kindly upon the eating of school supplies the longer you’ve been out of school. Much like lifting your skirt to show off your new, super-cool undies*, you’re not likely to get away with certain behaviors once you’re older than 5.

*not my undies – though darned if they aren’t super-cool!

4 Responses to “Things I shouldn’t have eaten, but did.”

  1. Elinor says:

    I used to eat paper a lot, but erasers were my big thing. The pink ones were awesome. Also, glue stick. but not Pritt, the other one that came in a yellow tube with a white screw on top.

  2. Meetzorp says:

    Oh gosh, I totally forgot about eating erasers, but I did that too. Especially scented erasers. They were crumblier than the standard pink erasers and were somehow more fun to chew up.

  3. SewDucky! says:

    I chew matchstick heads. I did as a kid, and do as an adult. Admittedly, I have a sulfur deficiency, and when my dad broke his back I would eat his sulfur tablets like candy (which led to a medical test that showed I can’t keep it in my system, along with salt so I kinda need it).

    I should give up and buy the pills, but matches taste better.

  4. Meetzorp says:

    I’d never heard of sulfur deficiencies, but I can see how that would lead to a craving for matches.

    I love how they smell when struck and can imagine they have a savory flavor.

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