Kiddies, this ain’t a nickel-ninety-eight. If you are lexiphobic, click-off as this scares hell out of two thousand words.
Friends, if you suffer from an allergy or a specific “intolerance” follow professional medical advice. I am not a medical professional. Not a dietician. Not any kind of health professional. Not really any kind of professional. If you can read this, you are intelligent enough to understand health conditions you suffer. You also know where and how to seek help. Do so.
Plagued with an increasingly flawed memory, I’ve labored to recall specific occurrences from the past. Failed. What I was looking for, going back to before 1960, was instances of people being allergic. Allergic to anything. Durned few that I recall. Young snots my age in the fifties and sixties weren’t allowed to understand or even overhear discussions about grown-up stuff like allergies, sex, the difference between Republicans and Democrats. So I suppose they might have existed then.1 I doubt it.
Diabetes, yes. Cooties, yes. Allergies and “intolerances,” no.
Forearms swelling after a hornet sting so you looked like Popeye didn’t count. Investigative Idiots that we were as lads, finding a new stinging insect, we couldn’t wait to try it out. Don’t misunderstand, in Texas, we understood coral snakes, cottonmouths, and rattlers. But scorpions, spiders, bees, snakes yet unidentified, and such were fair game. Horned toads learned to hear us coming.2
Wanting to throw-up at the dinner table because half a bushel of Brussels sprouts sat on your plate did not constitute a food allergy. There was no such disclaimer, “I don’t like that!” One, if you’d not ever tried it you quickly could no longer make that claim and two, dispatching ‘point one,’ if everyone else was eating it, so were you. Or you went hungry or had difficulty sitting.
I recall few, if any, genuine allergies, and no food allergies until ten years before the turn of this century. Remember, we were asbestos, DDT, PCB, lead, Russian atomic bomb, and fluoride babies. I knew two kids, otherwise quite normal who suffered from epilepsy. Knew countless kids who lied, most of whom are now fiction writers or politicians. That’s it though. No peanut allergies. No lactose intolerance. No celiac disease.
Now I hear of farmers walking into cornfields breaking out in severe rashes in reaction to corn pollen and the insidious saw-like edges of corn leaves.
So yes, a few legitimate and unfortunate allergies. But only of late. It’s all different now. Why, even me…
I can’t do peanuts
You know I lie. And this is a case right here. I eat peanuts with a vengeance. In the distant past sitting in a bar with a bud practicing lies. Sure, don’t do that much right now. Not so much because, well, you know, nobody goes anywhere much anymore. Because most of the buds who in the past would join me in that activity now belly-up to a celestial bar.
Smoosh peanuts into a “butter” and I’ll show you how bad peanuts are for you. With jam, honey, pineapple, apple butter, or naked on toast. Gimme a spoon and I’ll scoop it right out of the jar.
Don’t understand the peanut allergy thing. As a kid growing up (what else is a kid to do?) peanut butter was a staple. Not sure, but I think Ma bought the stuff in five-gallon buckets. Then it became a precocious snack. Then fell into disrepute.
Peanut butter gets a bad rap. The “natural” stuff is okay. Figger that. Went on a tear and did the natural thing for a while, until it was too much trouble to stir the oil back into the goop every time I went at a jar. Discovered no advantage in “natural” except the added profit for manufacturers who (I guess) spent less effort homogenizing the stuff.
All you need be mindful of is added sugars in the jar (why?) and don’t blame all the “calories” on peanut butter. Take a good look at what you spread on the un-peanut-butter half of the sandwich – jam, jelly, honey, molasses, that marshmallow goop, pineapple slices, bananas, or whatever2.5 – there’s your calories, and your sugar!
Only vaguely do I remember becoming aware there was such a thing a peanut butter allergy. Suddenly, peanuts could not be served on airline flights. When did this happen? How did this happen? Why did this happen? I was concerned at first that I might go to jail for eating peanut butter. It’s a serious deal for anyone with the allergy, but I’m still fogged as to the all-of-a-sudden of it.
What if I innocently carry a two-pound Snickers bar onto an airline flight? Discovering it, will the stews get the captain and the Air Marshall to help toss me out the back door at thirty thousand feet?
I am lactose intolerant
No, I’m not. I was pulling your leg.2.6 Milk, cream, butter, cheese. Ice cream! I’m okay with that save a few exceptions.
Bleu Cheese. Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Danish, Cabrales – and I suppose a few others. It’s a personal thing. To me, Bleus smell bad and taste like soapy baby spit. I mean what baby spit smells like, never tasted it. Have tasted soap – that’s another story (several, actually) so we’ll set that aside.
Still working cheese here, there’s Limburger and Liederkranz. These two make Roquefort smell nice. Limburger smells worse than ripe, sweaty socks, and we won’t explore exactly what that is I refer to. I’m told Limburger’s flavor is delightful. At my age, I still can’t bring myself to try it. Did Bleu. Know it’s not for me. But Limburger? Nope. Not gonna. Any other cheese is just fine, thank you very much.
Otherwise, dairy? I’m good. I will suggest that milk is best cold, the colder the better, short of frozen. Or warm, straight from nature’s spigots. And this low-fat, two-percent, one-percent, half-percent, and negative-percent milk? That ain’t milk, Bubba – that’s cloudy water.
Cream? Yuh. You betcha. And butter. Why would anyone use oleo? Yogurt and cottage cheese are okay, but I have to be hungry.
Point is, I don’t understand “lactose intolerant.” For those who suffer, I understand. Well, no, in fact, I don’t understand, I just said that, but I do feel for you. Take care of yourself. Can I ask, where did your body go south on you? I mean, the plans were when you were born, you wouldn’t pop out, clap your hands, and look around for a steaming pate of Brussels sprouts. Huh, didja? I been wrong before, but for most mammals, that’s kind of the plan – milk until your teeth can handle Brussels sprouts.
Eggs are bad for you
No. Wait that was last week. This week they’re great stuff. Next week, again, maybe not so good.
All around bunk. Gimme eggs. Almost every day of the week when I was young and active. Now, I feel no danger eating eggs five days out of seven. Fried – over easy, over hard, sunny-side up. Scrambled. Poached. Hard or soft boiled.
It’s not the eggs, it’s the ham, bacon, sausage, steak, pork chops, hash browns, Texas toast, Alabama biscuits, grits, and gravy that do you in. Salmon or sardines. Brains. Veggies and cheeses crammed into a scramble or quiche.
But I gotta have it all. Else there’s no point in having eggs.
You heard the bad joke, right?
The line chef asked… “Whaddayahave?”
“I’ll have a tongue sandwich,” I said.
“Ugh,” my companion said, “I would never eat something that’s been in an animal’s mouth!”
“So, unh, what will you have?”
“Oh, maybe ham and eggs.”
I have absolutely no idea. I’ve heard horror stories from reputable sources. This one is so new to me, it’s like peanut allergy in 1990. I ask myself, are they for real? Yes, I am assured, they are.
Those who suffer, substitute and survive. I’ve tried gluten-free. I’m not impressed either way.
Maybe I’m gluten-free intolerant.
Okra is inedible
No, it ain’t. Love the stuff. Fried, with or without breading. Baked. In Gumbo or Jambalaya. Scrumptious. In any soup. Been known to just boil it. Slicks-up the pipes. No need for Metamucil.3
Brussels sprouts – dietary punishment
Nah. Good stuff. I dunno where that came from. Hate’m? Nope. Never did. I love the micro cabbages. Roasted, baked, steamed, boiled. Bet they’d be good fried, but never heard of it.
Same for spinach. Squash. Green beans. Kale. Cauliflower. Broccoli. Yes, broccoli!
Don’t eat meat!
Up to you. If you’re vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, Baptist, or Lutheran that’s fine. Your business. For whatever reason. But don’t presume to condemn me for my dietary preferences.
Dietary differences, but…
I get it. Sort of. Some folks can’t handle milk, nuts, soy, gluten, beans, and leafy greens. What is unsettling is how these intolerances or out-and-out allergies came to affect so much of the population. Seems to me, even given the fact politics, sex, alcohol, and other good things were not dinner-table conversation long ago, I would have known Jimmy Wilkerson4 was allergic to peanuts, Sue Kozlowski was lactose intolerant, and the Kurtz twins both were gluten intolerant. I mean, I knew Mikey G. had epilepsy. It was rumored Imogene R. had cooties, though I always thought she was pretty damned cute.
In the hood back in the days, I hung with a ton of kids, and was not isolated through high school or the service, either. Allergies? Never heard of them. Or any of the intolerances. Then suddenly, around nineteen-ninety, boom! Allergies are commonplace. Why? Or how?
But then, until I was eighteen, I thought boys and girls were of the same species.
1 Republicans and Democrats, sex, or allergies. Whatever one you prefer. The antecedent is vague, but I’m happy with any of them. If you’re not, you’re too picky.
2 We hankered to run up on a Gila Monster. Found out we’d have to go way out west to find them. Rather disheartening to a group of ten-year old lads. We made do with snakes, scorpions, spiders, huge ants, horned toads. This, of course was BG. (Before Girls)
2.5 Dunno about Vegemite. That a standalone thing? Oh, and almond butter? Pardon me, Sleepy Joe, but C’mon, man! A nut’s a nut! Why is it PB gets a bad rap and almond butter is okay? The precocious meter is past 10, here.
2.6 Pulling your leg. Jerking your chain. Messing widja. Joking.
3 Fiber laxative. Looks like gritty Tang. Expensive. Some folk chug it daily to stay “regular.” No need. Just do Cajun.
4 None of the names are real. Well, they’re real names, but not the names of real people. I’m practicing making-up names for my next novel, Skittering Sideways into the Seventies.