I was fourteen years old when my life was ruined. It all started with feeling like I couldn’t breathe, like I had just run up a flight of stairs, but I hadn’t moved from the chair I was sitting in. It was frightening. My throat felt sticky, coated in something thick. A pain in my lungs, kind of like a stitch in one’s side, made me freeze in place terrified to move. Was I dying? Was this what a heart attack felt like? Do people have heart attacks at fourteen?
The answer eluded me for what seemed like hours as my body regained normal function. Maybe I was asthmatic or suddenly developed SARS? My brain wrestled with possible diseases and terminal conditions… until I looked at my recently cleared plate.
The peanut butter sandwich I had just devoured now felt like lead in my stomach. ‘Dear God no!’ I thought to myself as realization set in. ‘Not peanut butter!’ I looked at the crumbs still on the plate, mocking me.
“How could you betray me like this?” I cried out loud. “I loved you!”
The doctor a few days later confirmed my suspicion
“Yep,” He said nonchalantly, like his words didn’t just tear down the very fiber (and protein) of my being, “you seem to have developed a nut allergy. It’s not uncommon for folks (he said ‘folks’ like I was fifty or something) to have their bodies react differently as they get older.”
“Can you fix it?” I asked desperately, knowing the answer already but hey, science is progressing every day right? “Is there a pill or something?”
“No unfortunately there isn’t anything like that available. Don’t worry. It might go away in a few years. Be careful though. It could also get worse. You could develop a full anaphylactic shock where you will need an EpiPen.”
Years? The word rattled around in my brain like dice. Years without peanut butter? No more PBJ sandwiches, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, no adding them to cold leftover pancakes, no dipping my Oreos in them. No more BBQ peanuts, no Snickers, no…. no Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?
Now that’s just going too far!
It’s not true. Can’t be. Reese’s probably doesn’t even use real peanut butter. They probably have all preservatives, like cheese slices. That’s it. Only one way to find out though.
I used the last of my babysitting money to buy a Reese’s pack. My younger brother bounced on his toes, hoping I was allergic because then I would give him the rest of the chocolatey confectionary. In one quick bite, I devoured the circular disk that held all of my hopes. Waited.
It took only thirty seconds for the pain to kick in. With tears in my eyes, I handed my opportunistic brother the last Reese’s I ever bought.
Absinthe From Society’s debut album The Angels Ignored Us is out now