As I move my glasses up and down my nose, depending on whether or not I need to see near or far, I'm reminded that things change as we get older. Sylvia and Mitchell insist it's due to my prehistoric age, but they are not immune to change. Their bodies, like mine, sometimes turn traitor. A fact Sylvia discovered at summer's end.
Throughout August Sylvia suffered in silence with an upset stomach. She had assumed it would just go away. This is a trait she has inherited from me and which, over the years, empirical evidence has proven to be really dumb.
When Sylvia finally revealed her distress, we thought that it might be caused by anxiety over the upcoming school year. We also considered the fact that our annual allotment of company meant we ate out far more often than normal. Rich food could be to blame. We also tend to eat over processed food which can't help.
"It might be gluten," Sylvia suggested. Her friend has a gluten intolerance which manifests itself in similar ways.
To test this theory we eliminated foods containing gluten from Sylvia's meals for a day. Now, it could be a placebo effect, but Sylvia was soon feeling much better. We continued this for a few more days and Sylvia's stomach ailments disappeared.
With the help of Sylvia's friend's mother, we made a list of unacceptable foods. Many, we noted, were foods that Sylvia already disliked so this was not a hardship. However, there was one notable exception.
"I can't have Cinnabons?" wailed Sylvia. Such grief had not been heard since the death of Dumbledore.
"We could make gluten-free cinnamon buns," I suggested. This was met with a withering look full of scorn. Maybe now she'd be more receptive to a doctor's appointment?
"We can all become gluten free," Lydia stated. "It will do us good."
To inaugurate this noble show of support, Lydia prepared a gluten-free lasagna dinner. As a beginning, it did not bode well.
I took my first bite and crunched down on a noodle that somehow managed to be soggy and hard at the same time. The taste was bland yet unpleasant. It was a masterful achievement in culinary sadism!
"Yum!" I said. Not that I could have done any better.
Mitchell and Lydia's faces mirrored what I felt as they grappled with their dinner.
I managed to eat half the meal before giving up. This was not going to be easy. Still, I saw a silver-lining. If the family remained gluten-free, I'd be back to my high-school weight in no time!
Kevin Toal is a freelance writer who is intolerant of gluten-free pasta.