Not having grown up in Seattle, it's a happy thing to have friends here who knew me in my formative years. These people are truly gems, not only because they are great people but because they hold a significant piece of my history. Two of these people, Sean & Shannon, have been living in other parts of the country and recently traveled 'round the globe. They just settled here in Seattle but I've known them for almost 15 years. Sean was a Statistics classmate and the first friend I made at WSU and Shannon was my roommate Junior year. Yes, these folks are Cougs.
Sunday night, we had a wonderful evening at their home, and even though they didn't know it at the time, something momentous happened that evening as well.
First, let me tell you a story. Back in October 2002, the guy I was dating convinced me to eat at his favorite Mexican Restaurant in Elma, Washington. This hole-in-the-wall, sanitation-is-optional, health-department-violation-in-waiting had become a local favorite since you could get football-sized burritos for $5. He ordered his usual veggie burrito, doused in ulcer-strength (but germ killing) hot sauce while I opted for the meat-laden, "no-hot-sauce-please" chicken burrito. I was able to eat about half of it.
Flash forward a week and you would have found me at Swedish Hospital hooked up to intravenous antibiotics after suffering flu-like symptoms for several days and having to call Amy @ 2:30 am on the fourth night, telling her that I wanted to die just to make the pain go away. I had to crawl on all fours to let her in the front door--the stomach pain was so intense. This was because I had shed all my stomach lining and could no longer absorb nutrients. I was literally starving. The doctor surmised I had contracted Salmonella.
That episode not only made me super paranoid about the cleanliness of food but from that point on, chicken was verboten. But do you know how hard it is to cut chicken out of your diet? It's in everything! Do you know what else happens? I became the most ridiculous dinner guest. Like J.Lo, I had a rider that preceded me to any occasion we were invited to. (And I used to give my step-brothers a hard time for being vegan/vegetarian...) Do you know how odd it is to be a meat-eater but not each chicken? People understand eliminating beef and pork but not chicken. And each time, I'd have to tell the story and people would listen wide-eyed and nod reassuringly that avoiding chicken was an understandable result of this experience. But seriously, how long was this going play out?
Back to present day, Shannon & Sean had been kind enough to ask if Lamb was ok (and unfortuately I'm allergic) so I sent back suggestions but I never said NO to chicken--and I take full responsibility for that. Shannon had prepared a multi-ethnic feast and the yummy, exotic smells filled the living room. In an off-hand comment, she mentioned we were having chicken and I froze. I hadn't told her. Oh my god, what was I going to eat? How awkward was it going to be when I mention this after all the effort she's gone through?
And at that moment, after four and half years of letting an albeit traumatic but clearly isolated incident rule my diet, I decided to just quietly go with it. And you know what? It wasn't a big deal at all. Rediscovering the texture of chicken in my mouth was a little odd at first but it tasted damn good. So why you ask, if they are such good friends didn't I say anything? Because I'd grown tired of being that freakishly fussy dinner guest. If these people can travel to 3rd world countries sampling the local cuisine and live to tell about it, I can eat some chicken.