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Nose Whistling, Mashed Potato and Other Totally Reasonable Fears


It's Mashed Potato Time

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My nose whistles. Not all the time, but probably for a full day once every month or two and I have no idea why.

In between whistling fits, I don’t generally give it much thought, kind of like having the hiccups or the flu, when it’s not actively destroying your life, you forget that it exists. But when it does re-appear, it is always at the most inappropriate of times. Most often at work and always when it is so quiet that you could hear a pin drop.

I’ll often be halfway through a staff meeting or trying not to laugh at something or someone in a serious situation when the nose starts whistling like an angry kettle and it will generally last the duration of the day.

I had totally forgotten about this affliction until I was re-watching Arrested Development last week and the episode came on where GOB broke his tooth and kept whistling (freaking hilarious!), which is pretty much exactly what I sound like when having a nose whistling attack. It got me thinking about quirks in general and the funny things that make people themselves. As we all know, I have a fear of high five-ing, which has plagued me since my teen years. I also have a fear of mashed potato.

I’d like to pre-empt this by saying that I love potatoes in general. Give me a chip or a roast potato any day. Baked (jacket) potatoes – love them! Even boiled potatoes bring me great joy. But mashed, or boiled to the point of mash, is just never going to fly with me. It’s a total crime against the sturdy potato!

I have had issues with it for years, but it wasn’t until about six years ago that I finally admitted it to other people. I was a vegetarian at the time and the cases of unintentional mash eating were becoming too much for me. Once I had announced it out loud to those closest to me, I was finally able to move forward fearlessly in my life.

It’s not generally accepted without questioning, in fact every boy I have dated since then has said (I quote) ‘That’s just because you haven’t tried mine. I make the best mash’ Yep, I’m sure you do and I’ll even pretend I enjoy it… but really, it makes me want to throw up. On myself.

The worst mash-related incident I have had was when travelling in Chile in 2006. I was traveling with a Chilean friend and we spent a fair amount of time with her extended family, eating until we couldn’t move. Vegetarianism wasn’t openly accepted in Chile and I was quite used to picking meat out of my sin-carne food while responding to comments of ‘that’s not meat, that’s ham’ with ‘oh, sorry, my mistake, muchos gracias’.

One day we were going to an aunt’s house and my friend had emphasised the whole sin-carne situation beforehand, clarifying ‘you do eat everything else right?’ ‘Yep, anything, just no meat!’.

So we rocked up to lunch, sat down at the table and aunty puts a plate of food in front of everyone. When my plate came out, she was looking thrilled to bits with herself as she placed it in front of me and I looked down in horror. In front of me sat a plate at least 20cms wide, piled high with nothing but grey, sloppy mashed potato. I looked at my friend in horror and had a small panic attack, before taking a deep breath and hoeing into it.

I still feel sick remembering it and when I hear the words mashed and potato in the same sentence, I still remember the sight, smell and taste of that plate full of mushy hell.

I was discussing quirks with my friend today and went through these main ones of mine, the mash, the high fives and the nose whistling. Hers were an inability too cross the road without a green man (kissing goodbye our chances of ever getting on The Amazing Race) and a serious hatred for chicken. The chicken thing is understandable as it’s a fairly hit and miss meat and was actually the last thing I returned to eating when I came to my senses after 7 years of vegetarianism, however my friend consciously buys and eats cage eggs without hesitation. Apparently she’s breaking even on the chickens she’s saving from being bred for food…

I realised during this discussion that the people I love the most are the ones with the funniest quirks, fears and passions. Fears of buttons, fear of cotton buds and an addiction to tuna are a few that spring to mind amongst my friends.

I’m now on a mission to discover the strangest thing about each of my good friends… Expect to be grilled, people!

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