It has been said that you can tell a lot about a person by how they eat an ear of corn. Who needs fancy-schmancy personality inventories or the opinion of some accredited guru to learn the depth and breadth of someone’s quirkiness? Just watch them eat. The proof’s in the puddin’—or in the corn, so to speak. All sorts of dining-related peculiarities surface once those steamy plates of golden-y yellow are set before a hungry crowd. And I’d daresay the oddities are stunningly similar to the ones exhibited when they’re NOT chowing down on anything—least of all, those sweet and succulent kernels of perfection.
Just for fun, I decided to test my theory by conducting a little research of my own—at the kitchen table, of course, where most of life’s important discoveries are made over Spaghetti-O’s, Kool-Aid and tuna casserole. So is it any wonder that such vital data would be best gathered there? Perhaps the only location or event better suited for said clinical study would be at a backyard barbecue or at a mid-summer’s family reunion; but then again, my clipboard and frenzied note-taking might frighten the subjects and skew the results. At our modest dinner table, the variables were controlled as much as humanly possible and the gathering of information was discreet in order to maintain the integrity of the analysis. Needless to say, names were changed to protect the eccentric.
There was the child with buttery elbows who nibbled and gnawed at the cob, slowly and methodically inspecting each and every row upon completion, ensuring that no kernel was left behind. Pun intended. She would then return, typewriter-style, to the left-hand extreme and repeat. She had a system, sound reasoning and a need for logic and order. Naturally, fastidiousness is nothing new to this particular individual. For a long time she got her jollies by stringing a 30-foot procession of plastic cups and saucers, pots and pans across the floor through the kitchen and into the dining room (arranged first by size, then by color). She did the same with Beanie Babies. And Matchbox cars. And books. And pillows. Finally, with animal crackers. So truthfully, it was no surprise to discover how she might tackle an ear of corn. No doubt, a future candidate for OCD.
My other smallish nibbler employed a completely different strategy for the task at hand. She picked and pecked at those plump little nuggets of corn like some deranged bird, striking randomly and fiercely with every pint-sized bite. No identifiable pattern ever emerged. At least none that I could see—except for the flecks of yellow sprinkled on the floor, perfectly outlining her chair. There appeared to be no method to her madness. No logic to her lunacy. Once again, the personality characteristics in question matched uncannily—she’s a veritable live wire, bouncing from one thing to the next, blessed with the attention span of a gnat. Of course her corn would be consumed with haphazard flair. The typewriter thing just wouldn’t fly. Not for this free spirit.
Captain Quirk (not disappointingly) earned his stripes yet again, proving to me (and soon, to many) that his weirdness is without limit. A nonconformist to the core, the man devours corn-on-the-cob in perhaps the most unorthodox manner in existence. He begins by gnawing kernels from left to right, pausing in the center of the cob only to return to the left end again. He rolls it precisely one-quarter turn and follows with the very same action, over and over until exactly one-half of the ear is consumed. He then does the unthinkable. He sets it down on his plate to eat (Gasp!) something else, returning to it later. A heinous crime in most states, I am certain.
I, personally, don’t surface for air until the job is finished, classic type-writer style. And I’d never dream of touching a hamburger or hotdog in the midst of a session with hot, buttery corn-on-the-cob. It’s absurd even to entertain such foolishness. Pass the potato salad? Make idle chit-chat? Fat chance. I’m in a zone.
Quirky? Nah, just passionate about my corn.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live (where napkins are entirely optional).
Copyright 2006 Melinda L. Wentzel