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Monthly Archives: June 2008

I haven’t been around much lately. I apologize for this; there is simply no excuse.

Something I really dislike is icebreakers. You know, those games you play in awkward group situations to try to ‘get to know’ everybody. They never work. People either try too hard to make a certain impression or, alternatively, don’t try at all and, typically, end up losing my interest.

A question that might commonly come up in one of these games is, “What is something most people don’t know about you?” or “Tell us something unique and interesting about yourself.”

I firmly believe that there is something unique and interesting about everyone, but such things never come up in these games. People always resort to mundane things like unique places they’ve lived, unusual hobbies they’ve maintained, or weird formations they can make with their tongues.

Let’s pretend I’ve been asked to play this game. A few things that, in the past, I would have shared:

1. I lived in Saudi Arabia
2. I’ve never broken a bone
3. I can’t whistle
4. I like to cook

The list pretty much ends there, though I would occasionally make up a hobby like stamp or rock collecting just to seem normal. Seriously, though, what’s normal about either of those two things?

Anyway, I’m really disappointed in myself for never sharing what is clearly the most unique and interesting thing about me in such settings. From the ages of 7 to 11, I didn’t eat a single bite with a fork. Just spoons. Maybe an occasional knife. But no forks.

The reason for doing so is, of course, completely irrational, but I’ll share nonetheless. My best friend, for a long time, was a kid named Teddy. We had a lot in common, and I really enjoyed spending time with him. However, Teddy didn’t value personal hygiene quite as much as myself. One morning, after Teddy had slept over, my parents made us breakfast. As Teddy took one bite after another of syrupy french toast, I became fixated on all the germs that were clearly escaping from Teddy’s polluted mouth and attaching themselves onto the prongs of his fork.

So repulsed by the thought, I vowed to never stick that fork in my own precious mouth. The only way to do so was to invent a more logical excuse. I carefully informed my parents of the dangers of forks, mostly the chance that a prong, if misdirected, could cause serious damage to the inside of my mouth.

Amazingly, they bought it. Well, maybe not, but they were willing to accept it as just one of those ‘phases’. Bemusement gave way to amusement, and they were able to have a private laugh about it.

Salads, steaks, and spaghetti certainly presented a challenge, but nothing was as discomforting for a shy pre-adolescent as coyly asking waiter after waiter for a spoon. Most of them didn’t question me, but those who did received an intimidating stare from my 9-year-old eyes. My parents, I’m sure, joked uncomfortably with them.

The end came too soon, when, at a Rainforest Cafe in Houston, I just had to give up. We had waited forever, my body was changing, and it looked delicious. Leave it to sausage.

It was a cool time in my life, and I was finally able to fully exploit it in a few college essays last fall. Hopefully you care.