Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tiff Tolman and his Culinary Creations

Tiff Tolman is the son of Mary and Albert Tolman of 21 Blechmore Close in Cloverdale. His father submitted his name to the Guiness Book of World Records last week. Tiff’s record, if the Guiness people will consider it worthy of their publication, is the longest time someone has gone without eating a warm meal.

Tiff starting playing with his food as soon as he was able to hold a spoon. At first he rearranged the food over and over again. He tried different color combinations set against the background color of his plate. Soon Tiff discovered it was the shape of food that fascinated him. Take a steak or pork chops for example. He is lost for a good hour while he stares at the shape of the cut for a pattern that reminds him of a person, place, or thing. His eyes grow large and he breaths normally again when a solution to the geometric challenge manifests itself. Of course this is well after the food has reached room temperature. With knife and fork he begins to sculpt. A cut here and a slice there brings the once shapeless slab of meat into a something recognizable. It could be a household object, animal or famous film star. When the work is complete he takes a bite or two and leaves the empty table.

Once out of frustration, Mary decided to serve broth for supper. She thought its ingredientless nature would befuddle Tiff to the point where his overactive imagination would settle and allow him to enjoy one meal with his family. The bowl of beef broth was placed before him. He looked at it for several minutes. He picked up his spoon, put it in the broth and stirred. Mary and Albert watched. They wondered if their battle with Tiff was over. Had they finally found a food he was powerless against? Five minutes into supper Tiff stopped stirring. He looked at his mother and asked if there was anything else for supper. “That’s all Tiff,” she replied. “Now eat, its getting cold.”

Tiff knew the table rules. He couldn’t add anything to his food that wasn’t on the table. He seemed shaken. With most soups there were vegetables or noodles or chunks of meat. This broth had nothing. A sadness clouded his bright green eyes. The joy of meal time was replaced with a solemnness that brought both his parent’s spoons to a stop. Mary and Albert’s little boy was beaten. He picked up his spoon, put it in the bowl and brought out a helping of broth. It was still warm. He moved it toward his mouth. His trembling hand stopped just before the metal touched his lips. A tear fell from his eye and landed in the dark brown liquid. Mary knew her boy. She knew when he was happy and sad but she had never seen him like this. His eyes were tearing. His lips trembled. His spirit was broken.
“Stop,” she said in a whisper. Mary looked at Albert. He nodded. She got up from the table, walked to the counter and picked up a loaf of bread. A moment later she returned with a saucer holding five slices of wonderful Wonderbread. She set the bread in front of Tiff.

Tiff put the spoon back into the soup. “Thanks Mom,” he said as he wiped his tears with a napkin.
“You’re welcome Tiff,” Mary said. “You’re my artist so make something nice for your father and me.” Tiff picked up four slices of bread, closed his eyes and waited for inspiration to whisper a picture into his head.

Tiff hasn’t had a warm meal in many years. He may be a bit of an embarrassment at times when company comes or when the family goes out to eat but Mary and Albert have learned to accept their boy as he is and relish in that which makes him unique in this world of billions of people. Mary and Albert would have him no other way.

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