Tongue glasses

If you don’t have perfect vision, that’s not such a big deal, you just get a pair of glasses, and then you can see things perfectly. What’s that? No, what did you say? I’m sorry, I can’t hear you. Maybe my hearing isn’t as good as everyone else’s. That’s not really a problem either. If you’re hard of hearing, you just go and get a hearing aid or a cochlear implant and, there you go, much better, now everything’s coming through loud and clear.

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But what about the other senses? Are you telling me that touch, taste, and smell don’t ever suffer like hearing and sight do? And say your taste buds aren’t fully operational, what are your options? Are you supposed to just go through life acting like everything’s OK? No, unless you’re a naturally gifted actor, which I’m sure you’re not, you might pretend like you can taste just fine. And so your mom surprises you one day, she made you your favorite pie, “And have a piece right now! I want to see the look on your face when you take that first bite!”

And you’re like, “All right mom,” because, yeah, you don’t dislike pie. Maybe you even tell yourself that you really like pie, that you love it. And so you cut yourself a huge slice, like a fifth of the pie. Your mom’s watching expectantly, you cut in and take your first taste. That smile, you close your eyes and you go, “Mmm, that’s delicious mom, thank you so much.”

Your mom’s still smiling, I mean, you’re smiling, to the rest of the world, you look like you might be enjoying yourself. But this isn’t the rest of the world you’re eating pie in front of, this is your mom. She knows you better than anybody. She knows what it looks like when you’re experiencing pure joy, that same look you had on your face when you were in the second grade, when there was a Super Nintendo wrapped underneath the Christmas tree that year.

All you talked about was asking Santa for a Super Nintendo, you wouldn’t shut up about Super Mario World and all of the different items and tools available in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. “I wouldn’t get your hopes up,” your mom would tell you as you cut out a full-page advertisement for the SNES from a Nintendo Power magazine and taped it up like a poster above your bed. “There might not be enough Super Nintendos for Santa to give out. That’s a really popular toy this year.”

But of course she got you that Super Nintendo. And even though you tried not to let it show, the doubt, that maybe Santa wouldn’t be able to make it happen right there, you went right for that box on Christmas morning, the only one that could have been a Super Nintendo. The wrapping paper went flying, but it was just a clothing box, just a couple of sweaters.

And after all of the presents were opened up, your mom couldn’t prolong her own need for that Christmas morning feeling any longer. She did the whole, “Wait a second, did you forget a present? What’s that over there?” routine, the cleverly hidden box, of course it was the Super Nintendo. That was the look, pure joy, of unadulterated bliss, and it would have been difficult for an outside observer to make a distinction between just who was happier that day, you or your mom.

But this? “Wow, great pie mom.” This was a joke. You’re not an actor, and even if you were, do you know how hard it is to fake that type of a reaction? Was your mom really expecting a repeat of December, 1992? Of course she wasn’t. But maybe if your reaction was just a little more genuine, if you could only fully appreciate the time and care that went in to making that pie crust, the delicate flavor profile of the strawberries balanced with the tartness of the rhubarb. Maybe you wouldn’t be wolfing it down as fast, like, OK, this pie is great and all, but I’m a little tired of having dessert.

And the worst part is, it’s not even your fault. How can your mom know that your sense of taste isn’t up to snuff? You don’t even know. It’s not like you started losing your flavor profile over night. It was gradual. You started ordering chicken and pasta when you went out to eat because, well, everyone else keeps raving about that smoked paprika dry rub or the artisanal veal bouillabaisse, but when you really take a bite, can you tell the difference? Besides the basics, the savory, the hot, the cold, are you picking out any separate tastes?

Of course you can’t. When it comes to the sense of taste, you’re like Mr. Magoo. You know, except that he couldn’t see. But whatever, he got some glasses and went about his life. Why don’t they make glasses for you? For your tongue? How many people are out there, disappointing their mothers and grandmothers on a daily basis, by pretending to enjoy food that they’re really not even capable of truly appreciating?

We need tongue glasses. Obviously we won’t call them glasses. Except if whatever technological advances that make it work happen to be made out of glass. Then we probably still won’t call them glasses, because it would be confusing with eyeglasses. Well, I guess it wouldn’t be that difficult to just say eyeglasses and tongue … no, you know what? Someone will think of a different name. But we’ve got to invent them first. Scientists, whoever invents what I’m talking about first, don’t forget to give me some credit.

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