Of pennies and senses and palate revolts





The penny dropped. I love that idiom. I am old enough to remember pennies. I was around when the government dropped the penny from circulation. I love short sentences. I love the stubbornness of solid idioms from analog times. What's better than that click sound I hear in my mind when someone voices the idiom? (The absolute best is when banker Dave Mowat employs it.) The penny dropped is the sound of realization, the testimony that insight, like starlight, takes time to arrive, and, when it does, it resonates. Just like a coin-in-slot machine come to life when the stuck penny drops.

Peas, too.

Shelagh was talking the other day about children and their young taste buds. I don't know how the subject came up. For the most part I stay in touch with the subject matter of current podcasts when Shelagh summarizes key points from the 100 or so she stays current with. So, maybe the observation about taste buds was from a pea podcast she had heard, I don't know.

The taste buds of young ones, she reminded me, are just different than those of their parents. Children taste more. They taste different. By orders, some time, and not just degrees. I grew up in an era where children were commanded to eat their vegetables. Sometimes by big people at dinner-table altars who tasted those vegetables quite differently and who used the opportunity to impart from above solid teachings about gratitude. Settle down and eat your peas and gravy, my boy, Colin Hay sings. True, but also hard to swallow for those below.

As a young parent, I followed Shelagh in things parenting. She was just smarter than me about, let's do a quick count without rounding up, everything. And, so, I tried my best not to make food an issue of division in our house. But it didn't really click until the other day that children may taste food differently. That the food is different. Those peas, that crown of broccoli is not the same for them. They may not have the words. They may huff and puff because years haven't given them perspectives and podcasts, but their heightened sensitivities to veggies or liver or Coke from McDonald's changes the nature of the food. The little peasants are in a palate revolt (a clever phrase I owe to wordsmith Mary Sturgeon), but they are also in the right. And they have science on their side.

Thinking about all of this, a couple of other pennies have started to drop.

First: how do those in power stay open to the truths sensed by those not long in the tooth?

Second: how do I stay open to the truths from the still-forming parts of me that haven't found the power that words confer?

"Babies are boring," Marc Maron's Sam character tells Betty Gilpin's Debbie in Glow. "I mean, they don't party, they haven't travelled, they have no sense of irony."


They sense other things.



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