Awkwardly Gluten Free

Possessing a biological knowledge of the small intestine,
as useful as the unattended embarrassment
of knowing your audience have lost interest in your spiel,
and are regretting their outburst of “Gluten! What’s that then?”
(also occasionally uttered by restaurateurs, to the backdrop of your heart sinking).
Politely refusing the offer of biscuits/mini rolls/pork pies
with a frenzied prayer that the birthday girl does not take your rebuttal
as a slight on her snack-providing skills,
and respond by gradually making you the office, family, or cul-de-sac pariah.
The disgusted refusal to part with £3 for a load of bread,
although less, nowadays, than the price of a pint
– of cider, because you can’t have beer.
Incredulous, as previously innocuous chocolates, crisps and frozen potato products
are now to be approached as toxic –
at least until someone invents as cheap and marketable a flavouring as ‘barley malt’
(perhaps you one day, if you’re not too tired from making meals from scratch,
to eliminate potential factory contamination).
A supermarket ninja, adept at locating dietary information on packaging
(and well versed in disappointed sighs),
strategically avoiding the bakery aisle, because bagels are now a saucier temptress
than the receptionist at work with the inappropriate blouses.
The quiet resignation of “just chips please”, as the consensus is another Maccy D’s,
and so out of touch with KFC, because their whole thing is breadcrumbs really.
Fearfully clinging to old habits – a suggestion to eat somewhere new
means educated guess work between the lines of menu items; Russian Roulette with risottos,
to avoid being the detested ‘awkward sod’ who makes the waiter glaze over
and recycle dropped goods on your plate.
The unflinching service smile which stifles silent panic,
when in mutual terror you meekly stutter the nails into the coffin:
“Actually, I’m also vegetarian”.

Cherry Doyle
Poet of the Month June 2016

Gluten Free

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