I Can’t BELIEVE It’s DairySoyGluten Just Shoot Me!
A friend of mine was having a birthday, the same friend at whose home in the mountains I was staying for the summer, so I thought I’d throw her a birthday party, you know, in case I ever want to go back to the mountains and live in her house, like tomorrow, like permanently, like forever ... I’m just saying. So, in the interests of, well, my being able to do that, I won’t reveal her age -- she’s a bit sensitive about joining me in hot-flash hell -- but she was agreeable to the birthday party, as long as it was held in a meat locker because the heat has reached insanely anti-birthday levels.
I made a list. I adore list-making. There’s something so, I don’t know, mature, about making a list and checking things off. My problem is usually that I don’t have paper or pen handy, so I make lists on the backs of old receipts or my mother’s handicapped parking tag, and I write it with, like, eyebrow pencil or lipstick, which are perfectly fine if you’re ready to run into a store, but really don’t hold up long term, like in a really hot car, especially when they slip between the seats and you can’t get them out even if you use your pointer and middle finger like frickin’ tweezers ... uh ... where was I?
Oh, yeah, a list of food for the party: first, chips and salsa for an appetizer ... but, Suzanne can’t stand hot stuff, and the chunky kind bothers Lesa’s diverticulitis, so we’ll go with nuts, but that leaves Lesa out entirely, diverticulit-ically speaking, plus mixed nuts are expensive, so I’d have to do plain peanuts, but Virginia’s allergic, so maybe soy nuts, but there’s a lot of new research about the downside of soy, so ... cheese and crackers?
I could get that good cheddar at Trader Joe’s, and some nice whole wheat crackers ... but wait, Cathy can’t do dairy, and Michelle’s trying to stay away from salt, so forget that -- scratch, scratch -- who needs appetizers anyway, they just ruin your appetite; I planned barbecued chicken, corn on the cob, and a big salad, with ice cream cake for dessert, so the hell with appetizers. We’ll just drink till dinner time!
Then, I realized that some of our friends don’t eat meat, so I thought veggie burgers, and Karen won’t do gluten, so what about the buns? Maybe veggie-kabobs, although Sophie can’t do grilled vegetables -- ulcer; and, Marianne can’t do anything but potatoes, because she’s “cleansing her system” and only eats food that’s white. (I’m no doctor, but isn’t that kinda not politically correct?). Fine, I said, everyone can bring whatever they want to grill. I’ll take care of the rest.
Easier said than done, my friend. Again, Ms. Diverticu-Lesa can’t do corn on the cob, and Michelle can only have salt substitute on it, or maybe salt-free butter. No butter at all for Suzanne, but she’d be fine with I Can’t Believe It’s NOT Butter, which I have no trouble believing. Sophie says she’ll just have half a piece of corn -- ulcer; and Marianne, of course, can only do white corn (you know, I’m seeing a whole new -- and ugly -- side of her). And, it seems there’s gluten in frickin’ everything on the PLANET!
Naturally, the salad causes a HUGE uproar. Keller wants to bring green peppers, tomatoes and okra, but Sophie can’t have any of those -- ulcer; and the tomatoes and peppers are out for Lesa, because of the seeds and her $%!# diverti-crapola. Suzanne insists on organic lettuce, and Virginia canNOT have sunflower seeds, or she will evidently keel over right there in the living room, and we’ll have to call the paramedics ... she’ll bring her Epi-pen just in case; Marianne will simply chew on a piece of jicama, because it’s white; and, Cathy won’t eat the shredded cheese, because, apparently, the salt will transform her into some kind of gigantic blowfish by the end of the evening.
At 2:30 that afternoon, I am on a guest-list conference call, telling folks to bring EVERYTHING they want to eat that night (as well as a bottle or two of wine ... for me) and I’ll provide the ice cream cake.
“Well, I don’t do dairy, but you all go ahead and enjoy!” says Cathy.
“We will,” I answer coldly.
“Well, there’s gluten in that,” Karen warns, “don’t you know that gluten is a scourge on humanity?!”
“Shut up, Karen.”
“Hey, what color is the ice cream?” Marianne asks.
“What color is the ice cream? WHAT COLOR IS THE $#!@ ICE CREAM?!? I’ll TELL you what color the ice cream is, you bigoted freak show--”
Sigh ... I’m thinking birthday parties are way overrated ... maybe just a movie? With popcorn? No salt.
Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker. Readers may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting her website at www.vickiwentz.com.