I love Joel Stein. In his article that concludes peanut allergies are an issue only in rich, lefty communities, he compares a recent medical report to a short story he wrote years ago about a severe allergy epidemic that crippled the future until it was discovered the symptoms were psychosomatic. Funny that he didn’t show it to anyone, because he usually says the very thing on everyone’s mind that they wouldn’t dare say in public. I myself have often wondered why in recent years it appears that everyone and their dog can be allergic to peanuts.
My son entered Grade One eating only peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunch. Shortly into the school year, he was told he could no longer bring his favourite sandwiches, because a classmate was allergic to peanuts. To prove himself a good friend, he stopped bringing peanut butter and ate sandwiches with only the banana. Sometime before the end of that school year, we learned that the student who was “allergic” to peanuts just didn’t like the smell of peanut butter.
My son had already made the sacrifice, and eventually grew to love banana sandwiches. Buy why was that one student’s suspected allergy never verified, or even questioned?
Scent allergic people are militant. When I was back east in 1999 I caught a news story where a teenage political activist was allergic to “all scent”. She used beets for blush and baking soda for her pits. At lunch she set up a table to educate her school about scent allergies. She expected the world to bow to her sensitive sinuses. Since then, she hasn’t been the only one.
Nowadays, you can’t enter an office building, school, apartment, transit vehicle, etc., without signs declaring the location as “scent free”. I’d rather be honest and tell “hairy-chest haven’t washed” and “antique perfume saturated maven” that they upset my olfactories, and ask if they would mind washing more or splashing less.
Before anyone criticizes me for being insensitive, I must clarify that I grew up asthmatic and was (probably still am) allergic to everything but food. I was on scads of pills, inhalers, and went twice weekly for serum injections to deal with what I thought was my problem.
Who would have thought that I didn’t have to endure all that physical inconvenience? I could have just told the world to stop shedding, wafting, and spreading their allergens into my general direction, or even to the areas where I might travel.
One of my friends is deathly allergic to eggs, as we learned when we had to take him to emergency when my mom was baking muffins. One of my friends is allergic to shellfish, and yet another is allergic to the more extroverted seafood that don’t live inside shells.
I think it would suck to be diagnosed with a food allergy, because I like to eat, and would hate to limit my diet for such a lame reason that it would keep me alive.
Many thanks to my friend Emma Hamer for her Facebook post pointing out Joel’s article reprinted in the Vancouver Sun.