You Can Sit With Us

I wear many hats. I’m an educator, a writer, a comedian, and an actor. It makes for a colorful schedule, and there’s never a dull moment. Last week, I was on a small web series set with a small, independent cast and crew. We had just taken lunch, and the producer ordered everyone Mexican food. As I sat down to my veggie tacos, I looked to my co-star, sitting in front of a huge bowl of black beans.”

I said sarcastically, “Looks scrumptious.” She sighed and shrugged, “I can’t eat gluten or it messes with my digestion for days. And guess what? Everything has gluten in it.” I couldn’t hold back, “Man, that sucks.” She smiled, “It sure does.”

Minutes after we ate, my co-star made a funny face and winced, “I knew it. They added something with gluten to the beans. I can feel it already. And all I wanted was to be part of the group.”

That’s what it is, ladies and gentlemen!

That’s what sucks about food allergies. We just want to be a part of the gang. That statement took me back to slumber parties – the ultimate food party. I was a fortunate kid and could eat anything. Belly aches still applied, but food wouldn’t ensure I spend the rest of the night in a hospital. But that wasn’t the case for Eileen. She was deathly allergic to nuts. All nuts. She couldn’t even touch them. And I remember slumber parties turning into a constant banter about what had nuts in it. Eileen would laugh and join in, but I wonder – were our jokes putting her at ease or hurting her feelings? We were just kids, but the need to assimilate is at its strongest at that age. My co-star was a full-fledged adult, and she feels excluded when she can’t break bread with others. Imagine how kids feel.

Co-star and I then went on to talk about what the next few days would be like with her digestive system in chaos, and I started to get mad. It just didn’t seem fair. Let the lady eat what she wants to eat, Intestine! So rude.

But then I remember that my body gets mad at me when I eat too much meat, and she doesn’t process alcohol like she did in the good ole days. The truth is, we all have a sack of rocks. It’s just important to remember that other people’s food issues may seem annoying at times, but it really means that they feel left out. And if they comply, they could be in a whole world of hurt. This holiday season, let’s empathize with our food allergy friends and make them feel like part of the gang.

Posted in: blog

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