I can tolerate lactose.
Lucky for me, I don't get gassy when I drink milk, or eat yogurt, or add cheese to my beans. I can eat as much dairy as I want. I could bathe in cream, and if I get sick I can automatically rule out lactose intolerance as a possible cause of illness.
And I'm glad about this, because life is already hard enough.
I'm one of the lucky ones, unlike the poor soul in front of me at Whole Foods today. As I was waiting to purchase my standard salad + water bottle lunch, I noticed that the elderly gentleman standing just in front of me had a mixed basket of non-dairy dairy products, all of which appeared to be artificially engineered using soy. Soy milk. Soy sour cream. Soy American cheese.
My heart bled for this man.
Here was a man who clearly loved dairy. I can imagine him as a child as the ice cream truck passed through his neighborhood. His little feet scampering to the door at the sound of cheery music making its way through balmy summer air down what I'm sure his parents referred to as 'The Avenue.' He watched behind his screen door as the kids next door rushed down their lawns, fists filled with quarters in a hopeful race against time. He would have been right there with them, if it weren't for his lactose intolerance. "You know how you get when you eat that ice cream," his mother would say with a knowing grimace.* And oh boy, he knew...
This man and the fictional life-story I made up for him while I waited steps behind of course got me thinking about life, and the everyday expectations and disappointments we all must survive. The lactose we must tolerate, if you will. See, this cheese-loving man was no different from me in a lot of ways. He wanted what he just... couldn't... have.
I may not be lactose intolerant, but there still things that make my tummy hurt. And with the barrage of questions I'll undoubtedly have to answer (with a smile) at this year's Thanksgiving familypalooza, there are a few things I wish I could address to my relatives before we break bread:
1) Yes. I have a job and so far it's okay, but at this point I don't know what I really want to do with my beautiful mind so please don't ask, it makes me uncomfortable. I left the entertainment business because it sucks and I don't any patronizing "I told you so" speeches. Thanks anyway, please pass the yams.
2) I make less money than I would like to make.
3) I don't really date because I feel strongly that Los Angeles is a soulless wasteland nearly devoid of viable options (I hope I am wrong). Regardless, I have no intention of telling you anything about my personal life. Which leads me to...
4) No, I do not have children, or plans to bear children in the near future. Comments or complaints about our family replenishing itself with new life and how great that would be will be disregarded and considered personal assaults on my inability to find a suitable mate. Meeting men at bars is not only unlikely, but unwise. When my children ask me someday about how I met their father I don't want the story to start off with, "Well, Mommy and Daddy were wasted at a bar one night and Mommy was so good at karaoke Daddy just knew she was the one!"
Enough about me, let's talk about you. Oh, you feel like yams, too? Yeah, I thought so...
I guess the difference between me and the Soyophile is that the things I must deal with are at least within my sphere of influence. I have no genetic pre-disposition to not knowing how to constructively harness my ambition, but we all have to decide at some point to what extent we are willing to let our limitations dictate our expectations. What concessions can we stand to make and what are we willing to settle for? At what point do we stand up and say "No! I love cereal and I won't let my body's aversion to milk stop me from eating it! Ever!"
I expect to be happy. I expect to be rich.** I expect to marry and have several children.
I expect to have my ice cream, and eat it too. I will not settle for soy.
Not today. Not ever.
*She was referring to his violent dairy-induced diarreah.
**No, not really.