The pineapple was cut and six adult Benadryl were at the ready with a glass of water by their side. It was time. Carefully, I picked the juicy wedge and began lifting it to my mouth. I could feel my throat clenching, squeezing tighter, asking me, “What the hell are you doing? Don’t you know that thing is poison!” Ignoring all the voices in my head, I quickly started chewing as soon as it hit my tongue. Sweet. Tangy. Everything I remember pineapple being from my childhood before the incident. The culprit. The entire reason I’ve spent the past twenty-two years avoiding this fruit like the plague.
I was in the eighth grade. Middle school. A time when fitting in was rewarded and standing out was mocked. Let’s just say I was mocked a lot. Between being overweight, short and wearing hearing aids, there was no shortage of mockery to take place. It was pizza day and I had a slice of Hawaiian. An odd sensation went through my throat as I bit into that tiny, processed, canned piece of pineapple, but I didn’t notice anything until my next class… Reading. Yes, mock all you want, but I graduated high school with barely an eighth grade reading level, according to the test scores. Please let me know of the irony of being in Advanced Placement English for two years and considered slow with low levels of reading comprehension thanks to standardized testing scores. What can I say, I don’t test well. Anyway. Reading class. We were in a small group reading a book out loud and part of the class is reading for as long as you felt comfortable. I always felt comfortable reading for long periods of time, so when I started to speak and nothing but squealing that sounded as if a pig was being prodded into the slaughter house began coming out of my mouth, I knew something was wrong. I was embarrassed to say the least.
Not exactly certain as to the cause of my porcine vocal adventure, but having a pretty good idea about its origins, I decided to try pineapple again a few days later with the same results. Yes, it appeared I was allergic to pineapple. Over the years, my aversion to the fruit became worse, but didn’t stop me from experimenting. Canned was the worst, fresh was next down on the list, then juice, well cooked and dehydrated both yielded no reaction. So I figured there was a specific enzyme that was killed off in the cooking or dehydrating process that allowed me to eat those, but still, I decided to simply avoid all contact. That is, until I was staring at the Royal Pineapple Fried Rice recently from our favorite Thai restaurant, Dok Koon, and wanted to try it. However, I didn’t feel like risking an allergic outbreak in the middle of a restaurant, so I decided I would try it in a controlled circumstance: at home.
And so I let the juicy, tangy, sweet fruit slide down my throat and I could feel it start to swell. It felt like it was tightening, but I passed that off as my nervousness about trying something I’ve spent most of my life avoiding. I let about fifteen minutes passed and still had no real reaction, so I took another chunk of pineapple and ate it, this time allowing it to stay in my mouth longer, chewing more, letting it swish in my mouth for a while before swallowing. It appears I either outgrew my allergy or the whole thing was in my head. I prefer to think that puberty did it to me. And I think I will be less aversive to pineapple from now on.