The Flying Christmas Fork

An except from Twirling Naked in the Streets and No-One Noticed…

My father finally grew tired of my embarrassing behavior. Every time he took me somewhere I refused to eat unless I smelled it first, which didn’t guarantee I would eat it, and I sure was not going to try it. More of often than not I wrinkled my nose, turned away, and pronounced, “I’m not eating that!”

I wasn’t trying to be difficult, or rude. I didn’t even comprehend those ideas. I had no idea that my behaviors could hurt someone’s feeling, why would it? My intention was never to make anyone feel bad. It had nothing to do them; it was just that stinky food.

Every Christmas Eve my parents packed us in the car to Aunt Jenny and Uncle Eddie’s house for dinner. Uncle Eddie was my grandfather’s youngest brother. It was a short car ride; he only lived seven blocks from our house.

“You are going to eat whatever Aunt Jenny gives you,” my father announced on our way there. “Do you understand me?”

I said nothing, but the ball that was bouncing around inside of my belly got bigger. There were often many stinky things on the table like artichoke hearts. What if she gives me artichoke hearts? If I don’t eat them Dad will be mad.

Aunt Jenny’s table was set with a red table cloth, fine white china trimmed in gold with matching golden utensils. Napkins the color of Christmas spruce were rolled inside golden leaved holders. Ivory candles rose from holy leaves in the center of the table.

The kids table was set up in the center of the living in front of the Christmas tree. The plastic table cloth had pictures of Santa, reindeers, and elves. There was an assortment of candies in small bowls in the center. The plates were paper, and the utensils plastic.

I never liked sitting at the kids table. Not because I didn’t like the table, but because I would have to sit with the other kids. Kids I did not recognize, even though they always seemed to know me. “Cousins,” is what my grandmother called them, but to me they were strangers. I preferred to sit at the grown-up table.

The strange cousins ran around screeching and laughing as they went by while I sat near the tree worrying about when it would be time for dinner. This time I wanted to sit at the kids table.

Father had me sit right next to him, something he never insisted upon. A heaping load of steaming lasagna was slid onto my plate. Sauce oozed down the sides of the pasta, cheesy strings of mozzarella hung off the sides of the plate. I was able to breathe at last. I could eat that; I liked lasagna.

After waiting for my lasagna to cool down I scooped some up with my fork, brought it to my nose and took a deep breath—breathing in the smells of fresh basil, tomatoes, cheese—

It felt like an explosion. My breath caught in my throat, tears filled my eyes. My hand stung. The fork flew through the air, across the table, and landed with a resounding clank splattering sauce on the table.

“Joseph! What the hell is wrong with you?” Grandma yelled.

“She is going to eat whatever is put in front of her,” he said.

My chest quivered with each sob that started coming out of my mouth. The table burst into shouts and commotion.

“Joe, calm down,” Aunt Jenny said, “it’s alright, she doesn’t have to eat it.”

But it wasn’t alright, it was never alright again. From that night on, every time I smelled my food before eating, which was every time I ate, in front of my father he smacked the food out of my hands. “Just eat it!” He said.

The more he tried to smack the habit of smelling my food out of me, the more I needed to smell it. Eventually, I became immune to the smacks.


7 thoughts on “The Flying Christmas Fork

    • It really was a rediculous solution, not only did it make me more leary about food, but I was worried about trying to eat things that I knew I liked…like the lasagna, a tray of which I just finished making for Thanksgiving.

      The other thing that it accomplished was to make me immune to the smacks. You cannot smack autistic traits out of a child no matter how hard you try.

  1. That made me cry. Before I understood about autism or even that my boy had it, I would never ever have hit him, and certainly not for putting food near his mouth or nose – I’d have been thrilled he wasn’t running from the table. Now he is nearly 15 and eats lots of things, but always sniffs new foods. Always.

    And my wee girl (also asd) will only sit at the table most days if I tell her I would like her to sit with us – there is never an expectation to eat – sometimes she just can’t. And it hurts, but I try so hard not to let her see, because that’s who she is, she’s not trying to be difficult, she can’t always cope. Her sensory levels have been breached before the meal time and she can’t do any more.

    I am so sorry you were smacked.

    • Thank you Karen. My little guys will only eat certain foods. My 8 yr old has eaten french bread pizza every night for dinner for the last year! I used to worry and stress about it, but I don’t any longer. I find that other people look at me, and make comments like, “If that were my kid, he’d eat what I put in front of him.” No–he really wouldn’t.

      • I love how people think they can bully someone into eating offensive food. We all have different tastes when it comes to foods…shocking to me that there are people that font like chocolate! To this day, my father still judges with how my son struggles at the table. My Dad is from the “Because I said so” generation.

      • My family is definitely from the “Because I said so,” generation as well. Sometimes I wish that would really work, but for us, it doesn’t and I know better than to try–again. LOL

        The part of it that bothers me the most about when people judge my children’s eating habits is that they look scornfully at me, and make me feel like that child all over again.

        The comments like, “if that was my kid, they would eat what I put in front of them.” No–no, they would not. Maybe if it was their child, they would be more understanding and less judgemental–maybe.

  2. Pingback: Does Asperger’s Make It Harder to Know Yourself? | Aspie Writer

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