Celiac as a Noun
In the dictionary, Celiac is an adjective. In my life, it seems to be a noun.
Celiac (n.); wet blanket, killjoy, party pooper, spoilsport; known as such when put in social situations involving food (redundant: as all social situations involve food.) AKA: me.
There comes a time in every person’s life when you are invited to go to a co-worker’s house for dinner, or out to happy hour, or to a holiday party, or to grab lunch, or to watch ‘the game’ at someone’s house, or even to go to _________. (fill in any place you could go to, as I’m sure 99% of them have food involved.) It is at times such as these that I am reminded that my presence is a going to put a bit of a damper on the occasion. Not that my friends (family, colleagues, neighbors, kid’s friend’s parents, etc…) are rude enough to say such things, nor uncouth enough to even think them, but at some point when does a ‘casual’ get-together ever return to that state of existence in a celiac’s life?
The other night I was invited over to a friend’s house for a going-away party for a former colleague of mine. My friend had called to ask what kind of pizza I would want, as he was providing pizza as the main staple and was going to go to Pizza Luce and get a gluten free one especially for me. It was very thoughtful of him, not to mention expensive, and I so appreciated the effort. (so, on that note, don’t interpret this as any sort of indictment of my friend or his party – he and it were both lovely.) It just served as a reminder that once again I was the extra step in the party-planning process. The added expense. The added inconvenience.
Now, this occurring just once is no big deal. Everyone tries to be a good host by going above and beyond, but this is one of 2 scenarios that happen every single time I encounter a social situation that I am invited to. (the other scenario being, of course, that there is nothing there for me to eat, but that is for another time, eh?) I find myself constantly thinking, “Wow. What a pain in the a$$ I am. Would I invite me to a get-together if every time I had to worry about where I placed my bowl of nachos in relation to the cheese and crackers?”
And my wonderful friends (they are wonderful, by the way) go to extra lengths to try and make me not feel weird. Once while on a trip, a girlfriend refused to go and buy coffee in the morning because the only place nearby was a Dunkin’ Donuts. She claimed it was because she didn’t need coffee (I don’t drink coffee, so I didn’t have the urge at all.), but I know her. She LOVES coffee. She did it so I wouldn’t have to be surrounded by yummy looking gluten. I was touched. But also bummed. I felt like screaming, “Don’t change your lifestyle to accommodate this! I’d rather be a part of your life as a friend and have to witness other people eating gluten than not have to see people eating gluten because we don’t hang out as often as we once did.”
Now, our friendship doesn’t hang in the balance quite that dramatically, and I am so eternally grateful when friends are so very accommodating when they invite us over – it is peace of mind to say the least – but it makes me upset. It. It! This stupid thing that has changed me from being a normal person to “a celiac.” My friends don’t make me angry. This disease that forever makes me the perceived “picky eater” of the group makes me angry.
This past December I went to a holiday party with some colleagues that I used to office with. I was running a little late and hadn’t had time to call ahead to ask about gluten-free options, but I figured that since it was a very highly-rated restaurant, I’d be able to find something to eat. We were going for drinks and appetizers. I ended up eating one piece of cheese off of a cheese platter that was ordered before I got there, and even then that was risky, as I found out later that one of the pieces of cheese on the platter came wrapped around a breadstick. (sigh) After talking with the cocktail waitress about my options, I felt less than confident in her understanding and thus ended up having that solo piece of cheese and a single cocktail. The other designers went out to a second venue afterward, but I just headed home. I was hungry, but more than that, I felt isolated beyond belief. There I was, sitting in a group of seven women on a threesome of couches, in front of a fireplace in this very cool lounge, surrounded by tables of people, and I felt so alone. Oh, sure, I talked with the other women, and it was nice to catch up, but I felt oddly like I was at an aquarium….sitting watching the people on the other side of the glass instead of fish.
Celiac. Such a silly word, really. For most people it is an adjective, as in, “I have celiac disease.”
And me? Why, I was a noun.
But don’t forget: an adjective modifies a noun. So, now I don’t just have celiac…. I am a celiac.