I can remember the first time I demanded something gluten-free. A group of friends and I were dining out to celebrate Jenn’s engagement, and when it came time for me to order, I impulsively asked for the goat cheese flatbread.
The waitress stammered, “R-regular bread? With g-g-gluten in it?” My friends stared at me in stunned silence. I suddenly realized my error. These girls were all thin, toned, and full of self-hatred—of course they didn’t eat gluten. I looked around and tried to steady myself.
“Of course not, you cow,” I told the waitress. “It has to be gluten-free because I’m completely intolerant of gluten” As she scurried away, my friends began chattering at me: “You’re gluten-free now?” “ “We’re so proud of you!”. My impulsive cover-up had become my new identity.
What started as a quick way to save face quickly evolved into a pervasive sense of superiority that has become my way of life. It thrills me to send party hosts into a panic, to watch servers bullshit a few gluten-free options, to pay three times as much at the grocery store. But unbeknownst to anyone, I suffer from not suffering from gluten intolerance. It’s one health issue that’s too shameful talk about.
Many days I’ve wondered if it is harder to maintain my façade or to just come clean and admit my body can digest normal pizza, when I’m so comfortably ensconced in the rarified air of specific dietary restrictions. But soon I worry that I’ll be busted for my ability to partake in these wheat-based products.
When will this perfect little lie come crashing down? Maybe someone will catch me guzzling a beer in the bathroom at work, or sneaking a loaf of bread into the movies. The pressure of keeping up this ruse has led to out-of-control cravings for the sweet, sweet glute. I’ve had to replace all the smoke detectors in my apartment with emergency mini pizzas. Nobody will find them there.
I know I should stop this charade, but with Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, I can’t risk not making the holiday difficult for my mother—and everyone else—just one last time.
Also, if anybody asks, I’m vegan.