No seriously, I’ve never had chocolate.
My friend Alison and I went to the grocery store to buy chocolate. We stopped at the pastry section and asked for chocolate covered strawberries, but they were out. “What if she’s never had chocolate before?” she asked. “Yeah, right, like she’s been living on a deserted island or something?” The guy behind the counter said. (It’s a shame too, because I thought he was cute, until he said that.) It is an anomaly. No one in this country grows up without having eaten chocolate. I used to feel like a freak before for being allergic to it; now I’m not allergic, but I’m still a freak.
Allergies have been a fundamental part of who I am. Being human requires that we eat. And we eat several times a day so avoiding the allergy topic is not an option. There are too many opportunities to eat and too many foods that include those ingredients. The subject is bound to occur early on in any relationship and fairly frequently throughout the duration. As people were getting to know me, eventually we’d get to a point where I’d have to explain, “No, thanks, I’m allergic to it”. This would inevitably invoke replies of pity (you poor thing) or disbelief (how do you live?!).
My favorite response is the people who want to know what happens to me if I eat it. How I have longed to tell them that my flesh turns green and my internal organs liquefy, I eventually begin clucking like a dying chicken and my hair and eyeballs spontaneously detach themselves and fall out of my head! But no, I have the delightful pleasure of telling the truth: I vomit if I eat it. Though I haven’t consulted Emily Post on the subject, I’m pretty sure a first date, a dinner party, a job interview-- or well, any occasion where one is trying to make a good impression-- none of these situations are an ideal time to bring up the mental image of one vomiting. It’s just not attractive. But time and again, people ask and I tell them the truth. I’ve come to accept the fact that I do not make a very good first impression on people. It’s just been part of who I am.
If a relationship continues passed this first awkward stage, (and very few ever have), slowly people begin to remember. If I’m asked to dinner, they want to make something I can eat. My good friends and all my family, of course, know the list by heart. My mother has altered all of her recipes so I could eat them. She said she put lemon juice in a recipe for the first time in many years and how funny it tasted to her. None of us are used to this yet.