Mustard – I don’t like the taste of it, the smell of it, the look of it, the texture of it, the colour of it. It grosses me out to the max. As a matter of fact, my aversion to the condiment began inside the womb, for my mother’s cells loathe mustard as well.
My children, who are at the sweet young ages of five and seven, decide to play a prank on their old man.
They take a bottle of mustard and disguise it using their red crayons.
“Hey Dad, we got this new kind of ketchup to try. It’s really good. I think you’ll like it.”
“Um…okay. I’ll try it on my burger.” I cringe at the site of the yellow stream on my hamburger.
“Ah, kids, it kinda looks like mustard to me.”
“Dad, it’s actually ketchup. It’s made from yellow tomatoes. Try it. It’s really good.”
I take a small bite. My senses cry foul at the pungent yellow nastiness. I spit out the mustarded burger in disgust, and my kids laugh and laugh.
Days later, I come home from work.
“Hey Dad, we got you a present today.”
They hand me a mustard shirt. And they laugh and laugh.
One afternoon, my daughter and her friend decided to climb a large maple tree in our front yard. The first large branch is only a few feet off the ground and easy to get to for a kid who’s climbed a couple trees before. The problem, however, was that my daughter had no experience climbing trees. She couldn’t get up on that first branch that’s only a few feet off the ground. She tried a few times with no success. Her initial frustration quickly escalated to catastrophic heights.
As she stormed away from the maple and into the house, she screamed, “I suck at climbing trees! I’ll never be able to climb a tree in my life! I’m a loser!” Then the tears came.
I waited a moment before I followed her into the house.
I found her face down on the couch. I rubbed her back and said, “Listen. Climbing a tree is hard. It takes lots of practice. If climbing a tree is something you want to be able to do, we can work on it. You can’t do it yet. Remember, you couldn’t ride your bike at first, but now you’re really good. You are good at lots of things. You are definitely not a loser.”
Over the next few days, I found my daughter under the maple tree trying different ways to pull herself up onto that first branch. And the look on her face when she finally did was priceless.
Humans are very good at recognizing the emotion of disgust in a person’s facial expressions.
The other night I saw it in four faces: my wife’s, my daughter’s, my son’s, and my own.
There was a nasty smell in the house. Foul. Disgusting. Gross. Rank. It was bad.
I suffered the stench for two hours. It seemed like it was so close, yet for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out where the putrid smell was coming from.
Finally, it dawned on me. The fetid, rancid, putrid smell was right under my nose. The revolting odour was emanating from my own beard.
Imagine the shame I felt and still feel today. Even Brené cannot help me.
It could have been the corn on the cob or the garlic chicken or the Coors Light or the Staphylococcus hominis. It could have been a combination of them all. But whatever it was, I’m telling you the smelly-cheese beard exists. And if you succumb to it, like Mr. Twit and I have, your wife and kids will never let you live it down.
“Dad, tell me what should I draw,” my six-year-old daughter says.
“Um, I don’t know. Draw Joe jumping into a volcano.”
“He’s from a movie. Joe jumps into a volcano to save an island.”
My daughter puts pen to paper. She quickly finishes her artwork and laughs as she shows me her masterpiece:
“That’s not Joe. That’s me jumping into the volcano!”
“Funny, eh dad?”
Yes, funny. But it makes me think at a deeper level. How would I face an impending death due to brain cloud? Would I discover meaning? Would I jump into a volcano? Would I learn how to live? Would I realize my Meg Ryan is right in front of me? And if I would, if I could, I should be able to now—in the present—without a brain cloud.
We had just finished watching a family movie. All four of us are cuddled on the couch as the credits roll. My 5-year-old son nonchalantly says, “Hey guys, I know which one of us is going to die first,” as he points his finger in my direction.
I’m eating breakfast the next morning when my 6-year-old daughter runs into the kitchen. She says, “Hey dad, I just had a really silly experience.” I ask about her silly experience. She says, “I sneezed and farted at the same time.”