August 17, 2011 § Leave a comment
I had a buddy who was allergic to nuts. Before it was cool. I didn’t even know about it until a dish featuring almonds was served and he politely declined. He just tactfully, simply stated: “I can’t, I’m allergic to nuts.”
No one does that now. Anyone who is allergic to nuts, or especially people whose children are allergic to “peanuts and tree nuts,” which like “autism spectrum disorder” is now something that happens to approximately seventy per cent of all rich kids—everyone who is allergic to nuts makes it into this big movie-of-the-week where they’re going to swell up and die just from looking at a god damn peanut.
In the future, there will be two Americas. The only difference between them will be whether they have peanuts. Two exactly parallel mirror societies, except one freely eats peanuts and the other does not permit even the thought of the dust of a peanut; in the latter it will be punishable by death to have dreamed about being in a room where a peanut was once present in 1976. Two Americas, one where children with peanut allergies are taken seriously and spoken of in hushed tones as though peanuts were the holocaust, where people without a little boy like mine could not possibly understand the hell of going through life knowing that at any moment he might be exposed to a peanut and die, and another society where everyone just laughs at these people while freely eating peanuts.
Imagine being the ghost of George Washington Carver at this moment. From humble beginnings, you grew up in poverty, bootstrapped your way into an education, and got a gig in the South where the cash crop was peanuts. And you took it upon yourself to invent ways that nearly every fucking thing on Earth could be manufactured from peanuts. Record player needles. Plastic-like materials decades ahead of their time. Medicines. Cars made from peanuts, probably. Not only did you elevate the fucking peanut to a life- and labor-saving panacea, you became the pre-eminent African-American scientist in the history of the fucking WORLD by doing so. You became the only black scientist anyone can name who is not that Neil Eric Dyson guy on TV. During black history month, people have to talk about you constantly because in the mind of the nation, you are the only black scientist ever. Fuck the guy who invented open heart surgery. He should have been named George Washington something; something easy to remember. Abraham Lincoln Jones. John F. Kennedy Openheartsurgeryinventor.
Anyway, imagine being the ghost of George Washington Carver—for half a century you are in heaven hearing about how you are the greatest black scientist of all time and every device conceivable can be made cheaper and better out of peanuts and then suddenly BOOM– peanuts become the fucking DEVIL. Peanuts kill babies; we cannot permit even one atom of peanut to be within five thousand miles of any child. Peanuts and THINGS THAT HAVE TOUCHED PEANUTS are now not allowed in schools.
What is the fucking deal with this? And why is it suddenly “peanut and tree nut allergies.” Every time peanuts were even MENTIONED in my youth some authority figure always took great pains to clarify that despite being named “nut” they were in fact a legume. More closely related to peas and beans; a peanut is not a nut. Peanuts have nothing to do with nuts. And yet every single person who is deathly allergic to peanuts is also allergic to regular nuts.
This is how you know it’s bullshit. People are allergic to both things because they are both named “nut.” Just like people are allergic to “both fish and shellfish” when one of them is an H.P. Lovecraft-y primitive alien invertebrate whose biology is so foreign to regular fish that it might as well have come from another fucking planet. Clams might as well be from fucking Jupiter. They’re called “shellfish” because people used to call everything in the water a fish. Whales were called fish.
You can go to an “allergist” and get your allergy to “both fish and shellfish” cured by having light beamed on to you through a series of colored filters, seriously. It’s all in your fucking head. On some level, you are just subconsciously creeped out by sea creatures. Me too, I get it. Slimy things with slimy legs. Creepy, squirmy, cold-blooded blank-eyed fiends of the deep. Weird worms growing on vaults of magma at three hundred atmospheric pressures, ten reverse-Everests under the black, crushing soul-void of the sea. Hideous parasites on Neptune’s ball sac. I don’t like the fucking things either. But sushi is delicious.