NOTE: I originally started this post back on March 22. Its about time I took it out of draft status.
If you haven’t read my original post about flipper dinner, you may want to check it out before reading the rest of this post…
On March 1, 2011 Matt and I once again went to a Flipper Dinner hosted by the Compass Shrine (who are part of the Mazol Shriners) where my dad is a member. Instead of having the event at the Mount Pearl Reid Theatre, we went to the Freemasons’ Hall in Mount Pearl.
The following entry is based on notes from a public speaking engagement in fall 2009 whenI was on a guest panel while attending the annual conference and AGM for the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada. I have since updated some details to reflect my current life:
Hi there, I’m Virginia Middleton. I’m 29 years old and I live in St. John’s with my wonderful husband. I have a university degree, a certificate in Criminology and a post graduate diploma in corporate communications and public relations. I’m currently a communications coordinator at the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
I have lived most of my life in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and at the age of six, I was diagnosed with a mild case of Tourette Syndrome (TS). Now just because I’m considered to have mild TS doesn’t mean that growing up was a cake-walk or that I had it easy by any stretch. Let me tell you what my family when through when I was diagnosed…
When I was around six years old, my parents and other family members noticed that I was doing some odd eye movements and scrunching up my nose at random. Sometimes it was more obvious, othertimes they saw me rolling my eyes around when I thought no one was looking. I also started making little humming noises from the back of throat; which we now know were vocal tics.
We paid a visit to my family doctor and he recommended that I see a specialist. It was suspected that I could have Tourette Syndrome and back in the mid-80s, the disorder wasn’t as well know as it is today. So off we went to see a specialist at the Janeway Children’s Hospital. And so the journey began…
After some time, a specialist decided to give my parents “the news“. It wasn’t pretty. He bascially said, “I’m sorry to tell you, but your daughter has Tourette Syndrome and there’s nothing we can do. She really has no future and will unfortunately amount to nothing. She’ll have no friends, will not be able to get an education and going forward will be nothing but a burden.” Shocked, my parents told him about my recent birthday party that included almost all of my classmates and how much fun we all had. His response, “oh they’re too young to know better. She’ll be rejected by her peers in time.”
My parents were shattered. It was like being hit by a bus. Here was their sweet, hyper, chatty, happy little girl who would now have a life of misery and hardship. They didn’t know what to do. Thankfully, they sought out a second opinion (I thank my lucky stars everyday that they did!). The second doctor said something along the lines of, “Oh yes, she has Tourette Syndrome, but it’s a mild case and she’ll be fine. It often lesssens over time. You should find out more information so that you can better understand it. Here’s a 1-800 number you can call that will get you in touch with other local families who also have this.”
It was that day that my parents called the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada. Over time, they became heavily involved with the local chapter and my father volunteered on the national board for 14 years and was the national president for a number of years. I’ve attended numerous national conferences and have found a second family (more details on that to come).
I could go on, but feel that there are potential future posts here within this topic. The importance of support, public awareness and advocacy are just a few areas I want to cover at a later date.
I’m not looking for sympathy or a blanket excuse for when life gets tough. I’m here to give some perspective on a disorder that often gets a bad rap. Hollywood and the media have gotten better, but there are still occasions when a character will swear a lot and perform acts of violence, only to have it justified when someone says, “Oh s/he has Tourettes.” It’s a spectrum disorder and we’re like snowflakes – no two people are the same. While someone may have a shoulder shrug, I could have an eye twitch. And that eye twitch could wax and wan and you may never notice it. Before reading this, did you know I had Tourettes????
Well this is something that’s been the works for a couple of months, but Matt and I are officially homeowners!
While it didn’t take long to find our home once the house hunting started, it feels as if it’s been a long time coming. After four years of living in a small one bedroom apartment in Toronto and living in a rather tiny room in a friend’s house, having our own home is amazing.
We have almost four times more space than our previous apartment and we’re already making plans for the different rooms and the endless options available. There are so many things that have lived in boxes for years that will finally see the light of day.
It’s going to take some time to unpack and organize our new home, but I suspect it’s going to be a lot of fun too. :)
Perhaps you instantly think of a meal that is serenaded by that punk band “that formed in San Francisco, California in 1979, continuing in often erratic fashion until the mid-1990s, then reuniting in 2005.” (*cough* thank you Wikipedia *cough*)
Or you’re now elated because you envision a water-bound dinner that has that cute and lovable dolphin we all watched on TV attending a pool party.
And some of you may think I’m about to provide a lecture on the importance of consistent post-dinner oral hygiene as you are a loyal user of the Flipper toothbrush holder. (OK I’ll admit, the toothbrush holder was the only other thing on the 1st page of my “flipper” Google search besides the dolphin and that punk band…)
Well guess what – in Newfoundland and Labrador, the term “flipper dinner” involved the consumption of seal flippers.
Yes, yes I know – “oh it’s wrong… how can you do that… but the baby seals are so cute!” I’m not here to debate the moral issues some may have about this type of meal, instead I want to tell you about how yummy and tasty such a meal can be if you keep an open mind!
Last week Matt and I went to Flipper Dinner that was organized by my Dad’s Shriners group (you know, those guys that wear the red fez hats? My dad is one of them!). Neither Matt nor I have had flipper before and while my grandfather is a huge fan, my brother (who historically growing up was a picky eater) is a BIG fan of flipper. Even though my brother is currently living near the Boston area these days, just knowing he’s enjoyed flipper was a big selling point in my eyes (he is my big brother after all).
So my husband (who’s originally from Ontario) and I went with my grandparents and experienced seal flipper for the first time. Someone mentioned to Matt had flipper can be rather fishy tasting… I’ve heard it can be really oily… But we both agreed it was neither that evening. In fact, the most smell we could get from it was a faint liver-like aroma. Clearly the Shriners did something right.
Flipper is basically a dark meat and (in my opinion) tastes a lot like Turr (a small seabird more well known as a Common Murre). Now I’ll admit it was a rather rich meal and I certainly wouldn’t want to eat it every week, but overall I have no complaints about the experience and I’m really glad we went. In fact, if they do it again next year (and it’s a traditional fundraiser for a lot of churches and community groups in St. John’s), I’ll definitely want to attend this same one because they knew what they were doing.
I’ve asked around and there seems to be a trend that you either love flipper or hate it. And there’s a distinct separation amongst the flipper lovers on whether or not they’ll eat straight up flipper or if it has to be in the form of flipper pie (which sounds very nom nom nom to me!).
Either way, it was a lovely evening had by all. The fundraiser was a big hit and is now tucked away as a fun family memory. Here’s my dad as one of the excellent servers during the evening’s festivities.
Thanks for reading and I hope you won’t judge me too harshly on this recent meal decision.
To read about Matt’s experience with Flipper Dinner, check out his recent blog entry about it.
Have you ever had flipper? If not, would you if given the opportunity? If not, is there anything exotic or unique out there that you haven’t tried yet that has left a curiosity lingering in the back of your mind?