I’ve been outlining some character ideas for a new novel and something, as ‘something’ always does, sidetracked me. Character quirks. Everybody has their own character quirks and it’s funny to see them reflected back to us in a story. Character is the motivational force of how I work through plots. And for the upcoming story I’m hashing out here the quirks are essential to the story. But for so long I have kept silent about my own and what I now found out to be a relatively harmless character quirk. But let me just say at the outset here, if you have this same quirk or issue and it is disrupting your life in an unproductive manner you should seek professional help from a licensed mental health professional.
I have Brumotactillophobia, fear of food touching. I don’t think the world is going to end if my chicken touches my broccoli but, honestly, I may not eat my meal if they do. It’s not that I’d rather go hungry but I physically can’t put those foods in my mouth without my gag reflex involuntarily kicking into high gear. This truth has been with me for as long as I can remember. I’ve always gone to great lengths to hide this faulty wiring thing in my brain. Generally, if I’m a guest at someone’s house and am offered a plate of food I would simply eat the top portion of what was on my plate or I’d eat the outside facing parts. When I’d have guests over I’d carefully load my plate, instead of eating off a separate plate for each food group or hauling out my adult sized separator plate. I’m very careful about not making other people uncomfortable about this weirdness. That is my issue, not theirs.
For a long time I thought it was just me with this quirky brain bend. I did not grow up with weird food rules from my parents. My family loves to eat -- the more people, the more food, the more good times were had. Both my parents were good cooks and bakers. My father was making homemade breads and cinnamon rolls decades before it became a fashionable thing to do. I wasn’t abused by or with food so this is all on me. So, what’s with my mild OCD with touching food? Is this a gateway psychological defect? Am I going to end up with severe food disorder?
No. I talked this over with a couple of friends, one of whom just happens to be a psychiatrist. The other one is a systems analyst, for the record. Turns out this ‘no food touching’ thing is very common, and happens on a sliding scale of severity. There are a variety of reasons and/or inciting incidents and/or brain chemistry causes for not wanting your food to touch. Mine is taste and tactile. I can’t eat boiled eggs, but I like egg salad sandwiches. I can’t eat raw tomatoes but I like spaghetti sauce. I don’t eat soup. I don’t eat ice cream, but I like malted shakes and fruit in yogurt. The list goes on. But it doesn’t cripple my daily food intake. I don’t find myself under duress if I order a salad and a boiled egg comes with it. (Well okay, I generally take out the egg and the pieces of lettuce it has touched.) I don’t freak out and run away screaming if someone offers me soup. But if it’s a soup with raisins in it, I really might. Why would anyone in their right mind offer up a bowl of soggy food with Satan’s testicles in it?
But I digress. I was glad to find out I didn’t need to be hospitalized or medicated. So now I can continue exploring mild OCD brain blips and add them to my story characters.