I’m not sure how my body can have the nerve to ask me to give up dairy. Get out the violins, but how dare it? Have I not given up ten years of my life to food allergy insanity? Have I not given up gluten, soy, and sulfites for the past three years? And for what? To now suffer joint pain, swollen, rashy hands, and an ongoing, albeit mild, rash all over my body? So that now I have to try giving up dairy for starters? No! No! No! It’s unfair. Un-fucking-fair. Because it wasn’t bad enough to have been struck down in my prime—when I had finally begun freelancing as a restaurant critic for one of the better weeklies in town, or that I was finally earning enough money to afford a steady diet of the city’s best bread, pate, cheese, and crème brulee. Forget that I had never been to France and now have no reason to go. What’s the point? Everyone knows you only go to France to eat. I can hear people speaking French on television or buy some Pimsleur CDs. And I just don’t want to be one of the Special People. One of the people you meet at parties that rattle off like a train schedule all the things they’re allergic to until you’re wondering if they’re making it up and living off tree bark and native snails. I recently overheard a list that went something like this: wheat, chocolate, eggs, corn, MSG, preservatives, caffeine, beef, sugar, alcohol, dairy, vinegars, citrus, fish, and most nuts. And don’t get her started on “cross-reactivity.” Hell, no, I won’t. In fact, she’d just had pine nuts that very morning and she’d had a migraine ever since. As she talked she had a maniacal gleam in her eye as if there were a part of her that enjoyed the shock value, the sacrifice, the glory. That is not what I want to be.
I want to be M.F.K. Fisher or Julia Child, enjoying all of Mother Nature’s bounty, in moderation, with intelligent, well-mannered friends discussing art, beauty, love, and philosophy whilst in warm and tastefully decorated environs. Preferably overlooking a lake. In Europe. Instead, I’m on this path to the convent of Our Lady of Food Sacrifice and Virtue, where I’ll be digging snails and cultivating the tree bark. But it won’t be a choice I’ve made myself, like a real nun. It will be this body-imposed prison-of-being that shackles me like some poor motherfucker on a chain gang. Even as I write this my knuckles swell and little blisters bubble to the surface. And didn’t I already go through this once, no, several times? Aren’t we done with this yet? What will there be left for me to eat?
And doesn’t the universe understand that I don’t want to lose weight? That I don’t want to take up less space in the world? And that you can’t maintain your weight on cabbage and Udo’s Oil Blend? I thought the Universe was all-knowing? What is my brain going to do without all this food? It’s going to shrivel up like bad fruit, neglected and left to rot. There won’t be anything feeding the damn thing. It’ll be like that pumpkin the neighbors left on their porch through November until it fell in on itself, its destroyed face and defeated, sad lump with one eye still peeking up at the sky like a melting wicked witch. Yes, that will be my brain. Not on drugs, and not on food.