Mum and Dad were embarrassed, and I was in big trouble. I would hear about this when we went home. We were visiting friends of theirs, and these friends had gone to a lot of trouble, making dinner. And I could not eat it.

I tried to eat it. I tried many, many times. But it smelled weird. It felt weird in my mouth. It wasn’t like my mum’s cooking. Though there were times I couldn’t eat Mum’s cooking, either. Food was hard. Food was a world of anxiety and stress. And on this occasion, like so many others, it was making me gag. I was close to vomiting right there at the table, in front of my parents and their friends, and their friends’ own kids. Mum and Dad were glaring at me, whispering urgent instructions, telling me to get on with it, to stop making a scene. Mum and Dad’s friends were all stiff smiles, wanting to keep things light and fine, to reassure Mum and Dad that It Was Okay, and in their house nobody had to eat anything he didn’t want to eat. And you could see that Mum and Dad were not buying this for a moment. They were mortified.

They weren’t the ones worried about spewing undigested corn all over the table, though. I knew very well that I was the focus of all this stress and fuss. I felt awful. I did not want to be the weird kid who didn’t like certain kinds of food, but there were certain foods that I only had to smell to make me feel queasy.

Maybe this is why, when we went visiting other people, sometimes I wouldn’t get out of the car? I don’t know. I just know that food was always trouble, and I never knew why. It just was. Sometimes I wondered if I was a “super-taster” with exceptionally acute taste, but I don’t know. Food has always been trouble, to this day. I can’t stand chicken, for example. I’m not much for anything seafoody. I still cannot abide corn, which always makes me think of yellow teeth. Mushrooms. Raw tomatoes. Salads. Anything that smells “funny”. Don’t get me started on foreign food, though I have tried some Korean and Japanese food which, to my enormous shock, I liked.

I’m unhappy about this. I’m still that little kid gagging on the boiled corn. My psychologist and I have talked about it. She’s given me a referral to a woman who is part nutritionist and part psychotherapist, who might understand about this experience of food-related trauma. I’m interested in meeting her. If I do I’ll report in.

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