Growing up, it seemed there was always one kid in my school who was allergic to everything. He couldn’t play ball because he was allergic to grass. He couldn’t come to my house because we had a dog. He couldn’t drink chocolate milk because he was allergic to all dairy products. He wielded his puffer like a six-shooter, braced and ready at the first sign of wheezing to jam it in his mouth and pump it.
My patience always wore thin with this kid. I didn’t have allergies, so I didn’t really understand. It always seemed like all he was really after was attention, not medical care. The last straw for me was when he claimed to be allergic to both his mother and the television. Punch my ticket, I’m getting off here.
As I said, I didn’t understand, because I didn’t have allergies. Or so I thought.
As I got older, I discovered that, like the other Jones men — namely my dad and my younger brother — I have a slight allergic reaction to fruit. But not all fruit, just apples. And it’s not one of those oh my god I can’t breathe! or I’m breaking out in hives! allergic reactions; instead, it just makes me sweat slightly below both eyes. With my dad, it’s tomatoes, and with my brother, it’s oranges. It’s not enough of a discomfort to stop any of us from eating apples, tomatoes, or oranges, but it is noticeable.
I thought that was the extent of it for me and allergies — until I moved to the Washington, D.C. area and discovered I had a much stronger allergic reaction to . . . (wait for it) . . . cherry blossoms.
Yup. I apparently had a latent, unknown allergy to the humble white cherry blossom — an allergy that was happy to lie there sleepily in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where there was nothing to disturb it. So naturally, I moved to the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World. The allergy sprang eagerly, enthusiastically, to life.
It’s not misery, just massive discomfort for the next four weeks. And, if I may say so to that kid with the puffer: it serves me right.