I tossed my keys on the counter and announced to all within earshot that ‘I was home,’ like a conquering hero even though I had only been to the local bodega to pick up a few odds and ends for dinner. Usually the tiny apartment was full of aromas, music or the incessant drone of TV hucksters pitching whatever the latest craze was. Last week the craze was a waffle iron made out of recycled corn cobs. BS I thought, but the young lady on TV was so sincere that there now stood 2 waffle irons on the kitchen counter.

“Brenda? I’m home!” I bellowed once again. I dangled the plastic bag of vegetables away from my body in much the same way a dog owner holds a bag of doo-doo after a successful walk. I wanted nothing to do with these things and the sooner I could transfer ownership to Brenda the better. She was a great cook, but I had no desire to watch how the meatloaf was made. Others may call it a phoba, but the sight of a juicy Big Mac filling our 66 inch quad HD TV doesn’t make my mouth water – it made me gag and stick my head in the nearest wastebasket.

Yes. I’m allergic to food. Not all food mind you, I wouldn’t be here if that were literally true. I was allergic to any food introduced into my diet after puberty. Whatever hormone gave me a deep voice and facial hair also made me blanch at the sight of Asparagus and green beans with almond slivers on top. My idea of torture was to sit through a Julia Child marathon. Like a lot of college age guys I was able to hide my secret shame by eating endless meals of chicken fingers and chocolate milk. Once Brenda entered my life I let her into my ‘Shame Garden’ with rows and rows of planted exotic veggies such as broccoli and pears and gravy! I shudder to think of the psychic and physiological damage gravy can do.

Brenda accepted my dementia though she never completely understood it. Occasionally she’d nudge me into areas that would be off-limits under any other circumstances. We’d been together for 5 years before I’d let my mash potatoes touch my peas. That’s progress in my book.

Brenda had ear buds in, singing some old Beatles tune. She saw me hold out my bag of veggies with my pleading look on my face asking her to rescue me. She countered by holding up a naked, very embarrassed slab of beef and politely asked me to peel and slice the carrots and add them to the stew pot. That bubbling cauldron as revolting as any witches’ brew.

Some days we take a step forward and some days we take two steps back.

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