Around the same time, as I was dealing with my dislike of having to wear clothes, I was becoming fascinated with the world around me. I thought it was a particularly good idea to put things in my mouth to see how they would taste. This was another thing that seemed to freak the grown-ups out, again for reasons that I could not comprehend.
There was this one time that I went exploring in the garage and I discovered a large metal can that was very heavy. I was still able to carry it though. After much struggle, I managed to get the cap off. I was still way too young to notice the skull and crossbones on the can, much less comprehend what it meant. I wanted so badly to taste the liquid inside because it smelled so sweet. I managed to get the can up to my lips and with a tilt, the liquid came toward my waiting lips. At that precise moment the can was knocked out of my hand by my dad. “Joan! Call poison control! Chris has just tried to drink diesel fuel! There was absolute pandemonium as mom was frantically on the phone explaining to the person on the other end what I had just drank. Before she could finish what she had to say the paramedics had arrived. I was rushed to hospital and had my stomach pumped. It turns out of course that I had not actually managed to drink any diesel fuel that day, but had merely managed to get a trickle of it down the front of my jacket.
My curiosity was insatiable though and despite this close call, I would continue putting, or trying to put strange and exotic things in my mouth. Another close call involved a large dog in the park, who had stopped and deposited a large pile of excrement. I had never seen this before and again my little aspie brain thought it would be a good idea to sample it. So I casually walked up to the big, steaming pile, my eyes transfixed on it. I stopped just in front of it and stared at it for about 30 seconds or so, taking it all in. As I bent down, another man who was in the park noticed me and he bolted toward me with lightning speed, scooping me up of the ground as he yelled “Nooooooooo!”. And so it continued, with practically everything I came into contact with.
Then one morning on the weekend, my dad decided to go do some weeding in the garden and mowing the front lawn. He had made plans to have lunch with his then best friend Michael later in the afternoon. But for now, it was time for him to get to work, and I decided to join him in the garden. I was wearing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. As soon as I got into the garden, I decided that it would be a good idea to play in the dirt. So I walked into one of the flower beds – the one that had the garden hose close to it, and sat down. The ground was moist and muddy as dad had just finished watering the flowers that grew in the bed, and he had drenched the ground with a good amount of water. I loved to pick up handfuls of the wet, muddy dirt and squeeze it, watching it emerge from between my fingers. I proceeded to get it all over me – in my hair, all across my shirt, on my bare skin. Then, I thought I could make the mud into pies. So I began making little mudpies with my hands and when they were done, I took generous bites of them. They must have appealed to me greatly, because when Michael Sanders finally appeared, walking up the front steps to greet my dad, he was confronted with the sight of me covered in mud, with all manner of mud and gravel coming out of my mouth and running down my shirt.
Bewildered, he looked at my dad. Dad just said “You’ve got to eat a peck of dirt before you die.”. That has been a favoured saying in my family ever since.