Sometimes, you don't realize that you are harboring a secret until somebody tells you that you have a secret.
Years ago, I had a conversation with my cousin that I didn't realize was of any importance. I was about 11 or 12 or so. It was after my family moved to Texarkana. I was on the phone with my cousin when I remarked that a word made me think of something food-like.
Sensing quiet on the other end, I asked something like, "Don't words make you think of anything else?"
I asked some more, but got nothing but quiet on the end.
I was highly embarrassed, but somehow stuffed the conversation out of my mind. I never mentioned it to anyone else.
And why should I have mentioned it to anyone?
I always remembered doing this. When I was about four or five years old, I had records of kids songs that I used to listen to. And that there was one particular song I didn't like.
"Where have you gone, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Oh where have you gone, charming Billy?"
I didn't like the song because the name Billy made me think of vanilla moon pies. And I didn't like vanilla moon pies. They contained marshmallow filling, which I found disgusting. And having the name Billy be said several times in a row just made it worse because it compounded the moon pie effect. Instead of a brief flash of moon pies before moving onto the next offending word, I got treated to moon pies galore.
I thought I was the world's biggest glutton. I couldn't stop thinking about food like that kid Chunk from the Goonies. When I was in class, I would think about ice cream, cookies, and cake all throughout the lectures. It didn't help that when they trotted out birthday cakes that I was gunning for the slice of the corner with a rose or that I would hoard candy that I was supposed to be tossing from the Girl Scout parade float for the high school homecoming game.
However, one night, a few months ago, I was watching a show about the brain and senses on the Science Channel after finding nothing else on television. You see, I was in the middle of distracting myself because I had stumbled across the word Kansas in a news story, and wouldn't you know that I had the desire for ice cream stuck in my head.
Not just any ice cream. I pictured, as I always had, a bowl of vanilla store bought ice cream that was slightly melted and mixed with chocolate syrup. It resembles a Frosty like they sell at Wendy's, so I wanted a Frosty. However, since it was 10 p.m., I beat down that desire as best I could and went back to distracting myself with television and other things on the internet.
A few minutes into the show I was watching, they started to talk about synesthesia. I had heard of this condition once before on Nova Science Now and knew that it caused people to see numbers and music as different colors. However, this show on the Science Channel added something I hadn't heard.
"And there are some where people taste flavors when they hear words."
At that, I shot up and pointed at the television and said "YES! YES!"
I was amazed because I failed to summarize something that had been occurring for so long so succinctly.
I read about it a little more, then decided to keep a little diary of every word that I came across that evoked a flavor.
Currently, I am up to over 320 words that I can distinctly identify.
There are about 15 to 20 more that evoke something that I can't identify.
Now, when I hear conversations, I sit there and think "Doritos...McDonald's ice cream cone...Chef Boyardee Ravioli."