This chapter of the Chromie Chronicles comes to us on the eve of Christmas, and in true Christmas fashion, is all about gluttony.
Anyone who knows William will know of his insatiable appetite. There is a more complex developmental reason behind his inability to say no to food; it involves the pleasure centers of the brain, the inability to grasp the concept of general physical wellbeing and that there are consequences for ones actions. It’s just far easier to say the boy loves to eat.
Whilst Will’s unsurpassed hunger is a legitimate cause for concern, it has also been a great source of amusement to those lucky enough to witness it in action. The brothers and I have all, at one point or another, heard a distinct rustling coming from the kitchen and come out to find Will walking down the hall in reverse, hands behind his back, that signature look of guilt on his face. When told to reveal his hands there was always some variation of chips/biscuits/baking chocolate in them. He developed a cunning way to get around this by revealing first one hand, putting it back, and then revealing the other to prove his innocence. You have to admit, the boy is adaptable.
Sometimes he’d get away with it, and would make it back to the safety of his bedroom to gorge on his spoils. There’s no telling how many boxes of Shapes he’s managed to eat unnoticed throughout the years, but inevitably one of us would go to check on him and find him comically frozen, a handful of chocolate wafers halfway to his mouth. One of our brothers swears he once caught Will spooning mouthful out of a bag of sugar.
One summer we were down at a beach house in Mt Eliza for a couple of weeks. As with most Australian kitchens in the summer, there was a box of Favourites in the pantry. Reliably enough, Will managed to sneak some back to his room, and would have got away with it too if it wasn’t for that meddling Mother! His mistake was leaving the wrappers in the trash, which were discovered and a stern scolding was doled out. The next week, the toilet got clogged and a plumber had to be called out to fix it. After some time, the plumber came out saying there had been a blockage, but he’d managed to dig it out, and also proceeded to advise us not to flush foreign objects.
The objects in questions? Candy wrappers. Hidden evidence.
As I said, adaptive.
The only reason Will has stayed relatively trim throughout the years is through strict portion control and trying to teach him the values of moderation, which takes diligent work from those around him. Our Dad tells a tale of a time when he dropped Will off at a friends birthday party. This was a classic Australian birthday; chips, drinks, Sausage Rolls and Party Pies, and of course, Fairy Bread. Everything a food obsessed youth could dream of. Under normal circumstances Will would begrudgingly grab a modest amount of food, ever aware of the watchful eye of either parent of guardian. As it stood, the children of this household were apparently more trustworthy with self-service buffets and did not require supervision.
We have to use speculation here, but it is easy for me to imagine Will looking around, realising no one was telling him “two Party Pies is enough!” and tentatively taking a third just to see if anybody stopped him. And then a fourth. One of my greatest wishes in life is to have been a fly on the wall at that party to witness the look of wondrous comprehension on Will’s face as the gravity of the situation hit him; that there was a mountain of food before him and no one to stand in his way.
Dad returned a few hours later to find Will on the couch, moaning and cradling his stomach with both hands, sporting a face of pure regret. You would think that such stomach pains would cause some behavioural changes in the poor lad, but if I know Will as I do, he would do it all again in a heartbeat.
The issues with Will and food were not only of quantity, but also the method of consumption. To say he “eats like a pig” is a bit off the mark as, to quote Lenny Leonard, “Pigs tend to chew. I’d say he eats more like a duck.” Many urges to slow down and chew his food were met with a steely glare. To Will, delicious food dictated that you eat it quickly, for to eat it slowly was to say it wasn’t tasty. It’s a thin rationalisation, but I can see where he’s coming from.
On an entirely nondescript weeknight many years ago, we all sat down to a dinner of roast chicken, and started bickering about school, work, and whatever was going on in the late 2000’s. Approximately ten seconds after we started eating, someone spat out their drink and yelled, “Where the hell is your chicken, Will!?”
We all looked towards the lad, sitting quietly and innocently enough in front of his plate, a pocket of air occupying the space where an entire chicken breast had sat mere moments ago. We all sat dumbfounded, most of us managing only one mouthful in the time it had apparently taken him to polish off a quarter of a bird.
Then he coughed once….
and coughed a second time…
and on the third cough, an entire, intact, chicken breast emerged from his mouth and fell onto his plate, almost exactly where it had lay a minute earlier.
The story of Will regurgitating roughly 250 grams of poultry is infamous amongst our family, as are the other tales of his never ending gluttony. I am glad to say that, after almost 24 years of persistence, the message has finally sunk in somewhat. Will manages his portions and can appreciate that sometimes, bigger is not always best.
I still caught him in the kitchen with a packet of Shapes the other week, but he said Mum told him he was allowed, and he said it with such confidence that I chose to believe him.
The adaptive little bastard.