Dee was one of the top 15 readers in the bookmobile’s summer reading program. Nevermind that Rob and I read most of the books to her because she shared this honor with about five kids under the age of four. That’s the digression.
We attended the bookmobile party honoring the top readers, who received giftcards to Dairy Queen*, and participate in a scavenger hunt for more cheap tainted Chinese plastic. After the awards, there was a quickie lunch of hotdogs and cake. I don’t eat meat because my stomach literally punishes me for even the slightest transgression, but Dee happily downed one. Her horror about flesh eating hasn’t made the leap to what she actually eats yet. That will be an interesting day. She also accepted a piece of chocolate cake with obvious disappointment because she isn’t a fan of chocolate in large chunks – Smarties in vanilla ice-cream, okay, but that’s the extent of it.
Parents were naturally eating alongside children, so I stood out as I always do, and had to explain multiple times that I can’t eat meat and I avoid baked goods because of a peanut allergy – particularly when chocolate is involved. I realize that food allergies or intolerances are not readily or easily understood by most people who don’t have to interact with the afflicted on a regular basis. I know too that there is a a certain amount of resistance to the idea that the good of a few people sometimes means inconveniencing more people**, but I am always surprised by stories of the willful disregard of someone’s allergies by people who think that the allergic are somehow overstating their sensitivities.
“I have a friend with a peanut allergy,” one of the librarians said, “whose mother-in-law nearly killed her with chutney. My friend asked if there were nuts in it and her mother-in-law repeatedly assured her there weren’t. She ate the chutney and was deathly ill. The mother-in-law admitted then that there were nuts but in such a tiny amount, she didn’t think it would hurt.”
“That’s terrible,” the other librarian said.
“But it’s too small to matter sometimes, right?” the first said, looking to me for confirmation.
“Even tiny amounts count,” I assured her.
After we got home, I found a message from my dear friend, Sis, whose oldest daughter is getting married next weekend. I called her back and we chatted. She wanted to know if there was anything she could do to facilitate our trip and to invite us to the rehearsal dinner and the brunch the morning after. At the last moment I remembered the food. Buffets are notorious for spreads a mile long and just as deep without a single thing I can eat. Even though she is one of my closest friends, she is baffled by what I can no longer eat.
And it’s not that anything is necessarily deadly – that I have encountered to date anyway – but gastric pain (not discomfort, there is a difference), sore throat, and what I can only describe as hives on the roof of my mouth are unpleasant enough for me to avoid things even if it means not eating at all and merely watching others.
Fortunately, most of my own family love me enough to move tiny mountains to ensure I can eat (my dad’s funeral dinner was another matter – I really had to nag to get edible food on the menu). I am sure something will be thrown together and in any event there is a restaurant and room service.
*I really dislike the practice of rewarding kids with food. Her dance teachers hand out suckers and the school has popcorn and chips. Small wonder there are so many freakishly large children these days. It’s not healthy to have rolls of fat and if it’s rolling, it’s not baby fat.
** Smoke is the other issue that brings out the intolerant whether they are smokers or people who see nothing wrong in that most horrid of suburban inventions – the backyard firepit. People with lung aliments should simply suck it up and quit overstating the impact on them, right?