Pine Nut Mouth
I blamed the banana, and I blamed it in a number of four-letter ways that would’ve made my mom wash my mouth out with brands of soap only familiar to Russian intelligence agencies and the Mossad. I cursed every banana republic I could think of and made up a few (Sonofabitchiti being the most the most colorful) just for good measure. I accused the banana of having sexual intercourse with its mother. I was unhappy with the banana.
Then I blamed the whole organic industry. We eat a lot of the organic stuff and bananas are no exception. I try to eat healthy, you see, and so when it came time for a mid-afternoon snack, the banana seemed to be the best bet.
Since I ate the last bite of that damned piece of fruit, nothing has tasted right. In fact, no matter what I put in my mouth, it all tastes like I took a piece of orange rind and chewed it up something fierce. My taste buds refuse to register sweet, salt, sour, or the fabled umami. I am, in a word, nothing but bitter.
That night, I ate roasted chicken, sweet corn, and couscous. Bitter, bitter, bitter.
Before bed, I had some sunflower seeds and a diet 7-Up. Bitter, bitter-up.
Breaksfast: Kashi and a mimosa. Healthy, boozy bitter.
I could go on through the rest of that day, but it’s the same thing time and again.
So, I thought I was dying, of course. I figured myself for a brain tumor or that mouth cancer that adults have been warning me about since grade school. I figured my tongue was one big malignant mass of death. I told no one for a while, figuring it would be best to suffer in silence and then fake my death in some honorable way that would allow my sons to say, “Daddy died in the failed rescue of six nuns and six school children” instead of “Dad had a dirty mouth and died without a tongue.”
Finally, I told my wife. She deserved to know. She’s been a good woman and a good wife. The truth, no matter how bitter, was something she should hear.
“Everything taste bitter,” I said over dinner.
“It tastes fine to me,” she said.
No, I explained. Everything. Everything tasted like the rind of a citrus fruit. I was going to die of some rare illness carried by organic bananas. She thought I had started dipping into the sherry again.
It’s hard to explain how frustrating this is. When infected with the dreaded bitter mouth, you tend to forget for an hour or two that you have a problem. Then you pop an almond or goldfish cracker in your mouth and you want to spit out your tongue. It takes you by surprise, much like I expect it is when your cellmate crawls into your bunk beside you at night. It’s very unpleasant and always surprising, but you grow painfully used to it after a while.
The sad thing is, my sense of taste is something I take very seriously. Some of the greater pleasures I get in life are the ones that land on my tongue. I tried to imagine living the rest of my life without being disgusted by everything I ate. Apart from being a great weight loss program, it was going to be one miserable way to go through life.
I thought about crying, but decided I would consult Google before I went off in search of a burning Catholic school house. Within two minutes, I happened across this article.
Holy banana republic. It wasn’t the banana’s fault.
Just a few days back, I made a nice little dinner. It was rare for me to put pine nuts in anything. This night, I toasted some my wife brought home and mixed them with the couscous. Three days later: Bitter.
Apparently certain people (read: me) are affected by certain kinds of pine nuts (read: those sitting in my kitchen). The effect is this: 2-3 days after consumption, sufferers find everything they eat bitter.
It lasts up to ten days.
That’s how it’s echoed in my head every time I have taken a bite of anything.
The good news is, I’m not dying. I will probably lose some weight. The bad news is…ten days.
Pine nut mouth.