I loved eating dairy when I was a kid. I loved it on the day they took it away from me and even more the day I got it back. My mother got me up early one morning. “Come on, lovey. Let’s get you dressed.”
“Where are we going?” I whined. The warmth of my bed was being invaded by icy air, marching under the oppressive banner of Mom.
“Sacramento. There’s a special doctor who’s going to tell us what’s making you sick. He’s called an allergist.”
Doctor something-or-other, Allergy Specialist. The mad genius who figured out that I was allergic to dairy. It was on his orders that the army of Mom rode forth and slaughtered the cows, overturned the milk buckets, burned the dairy farms. I could only watch in horror, occasionally pulling a precious white carton from its foggy glass case at the store. “Mom, can I have this, please?”
“No, sweetheart. You know what the doctor said. I’m sorry.” Then she’d put it back in its refrigerator. I was plunged into a world as devoid of sense as it was of cheese. There was dry toast. Cookies and fruit juice. Soy milk. Dark times, indeed.
I got by as best I could. The kids at school knew nothing of soy milk, and were curious to try it. I enjoyed the attention, sipping the awful stuff through a straw and coyly saying, “Maybe tomorrow.” And there were always those parents of friends, the unwitting saboteurs, placing oozing cheeseburgers on my plate.
They were victorious battles, but the war wasn’t over. One day at school I relented, letting my friend Johnny take a drink from my Ninja Turtles thermos. My spirits fell as his face twisted into a grimace. I guess he felt the same about soy milk as I did, and the kids stopped paying attention to me and my strange, apparently disgusting beverage. Word got out to the parents, too, and I found myself glumly eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches washed down with water. I’d had enough and resolved to rebel against Mom and her control of delicious dairy. After days of strategizing, I had a plan. That night, we all sat down for dinner, Mom, Dad, and my older sister. I played it cool.
“Can I be excused to get ketchup?” Mom said nothing, but nodded. I pushed my chair out and walked to the kitchen. My tiny hand grasped the refrigerator door. It felt cold in my warm fingers and I had to lean slightly to pull it open. The ketchup bottle rested on the bottom shelf, but my eyes went straight to the compartment near the top of the door. Above the pickle jar was a smaller plastic door that would flip to reveal its contents, the little door marked “Butter.” I opened it slowly and grabbed a stick. The wrapper was waxy in my hand, and tore slightly as I unwrapped the pale golden slab with the other hand. I raised the butter to my lips. This was it. I was far behind enemy lines and there was no turning back.
Suddenly, I heard Mom from the table. “Sweetheart, what are you doing?”
I had the stick of butter between my teeth, ready to bite off a small slice of butter heaven. Hearing her voice I jumped, pushing the slippery butter too far past my teeth. It slid to the back and was seized by my panicked throat muscles, hurling the butter bomb into my stomach.
I didn’t get sick that night, or the following day, or the day after that. Mom called Doctor something-or-other, Allergy Specialist. We had to go back to Sacramento early in the morning, but I didn’t care. I had won the war. I had won my dairy back.