One of the many middle aged blessings I have received from Mother Nature seems to be lactose intolerance. I am distressed about this for several reasons.
For one thing, it hurts and the accompanying gas can be…inconvenient.
For another thing, I’ve never had any sort of allergies. There are plenty of foods I don’t like and some I can’t eat, but that’s mental intolerance, not physical. For example, I don’t like any of the squash related vegetables–eggplant in particular is anathema–and you’re not fooling anyone by calling it aubergine. Please also keep your yams and zucchini to yourself.
I know where this aversion comes from. The rule in my family was you must eat at least some of everything on the table, and you had to stay at the table until you had done that. My brother and I both used to hide food in our pockets and then flush it down the toilet. I find it hard to believe that my mother didn’t know that, but if she did, I don’t know why she let us get away with it. At one point, she tried to forced me to eat a large pile of mashed pumpkin. I tried but resented every bite and eventually barfed. That wasn’t an allergy; it was sheer willfulness, and I’m pretty sure she never tried to force the issue again. I guess I had come of age in asserting my independence and she recognized that.
I adore Thai green curry but always pick out the eggplant. One of the waiters (I’m told both men and women are now referred to as waiters–is that right?) noticed and offered to have it made with cabbage instead, just for me, but I don’t care much for boiled cabbage either so told them not to bother. It’s not like I don’t want to eat eggplant, it just grosses me out. I hold nothing personal against the unassuming eggplant, either, and have nothing against other people eating them. In fact, they’re rather cute and I wish I could eat them. I had hoped that quitting smoking might alter my palate, so a few months ago, I bravely ate a piece of eggplant from a green curry and promptly gagged. I can eat Japanese pickled eggplant. Otherwise it’s hopeless.
Another thing about intolerance is that I don’t want to be that person, the person with special needs. As a kid, I was surrounded by a bunch of whiners who claimed allergies and wore that claim like some sort of honor badge. Their allergies were to be respected, catered to (literally), obeyed even. They had a sense of entitlement. “Look at me. I have allergies. That means I’m special.” I felt somehow inferior in my sturdy, healthy, non-allergic body. I realize now that was a twisted way to see the world, but I am a product of my environment.
Yet another thing is a joke that’s no longer funny. At one of the production companies I work with a lot, it is understood that I can’t work in the morning if there’s no coffee, and I can’t drink the coffee if there’s no milk, and the milk must be Oishii Gyunu:
They called the other day asking me to take a last minute job they knew I didn’t want to do. After I agreed, they said they’d be sure to bring the Oishii Gyunyu. I had to hang my head and admit that I could no longer drink it. With tears of shame in my eyes, I explained that I could only drink this stuff:
So I am distressed to have this lactose problem. How can anyone be intolerant of anything as benevolent as milk? It comes from breasts and human kindness; it is the source of the heavenly delicacies butter and cheese. Without it, the land would just be honey and Santa would have to eat his cookies dry.
This is so unfair.