“Do I dare eat a peach?”-T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
“No, turns out I’m allergic.”-D.J. Fitzpatrick, Peaches and Screams
Approximately 63 million Americans suffer from some kind of disability. And I’ve got the worst luck of them all.
I’d woken up early last Saturday morning, around 10:30, and I was in need of sustenance. I headed downstairs and reached for the fruit basket. There were so many different paths I could take to start my day within this rich cornucopia: the friendly banana, the resilient apple, the voluptuous cantaloupe, the socially clueless eggplant (technically a fruit, but not one you want to put in a smoothie).
Yet, none of these won me over, and so I settled on the peach, a perennial summer favorite. Its meat was sweet and tangy, and I rubbed its juices all over my face and naked forearms. Then something strange happened. Deep inside, my ears began to tingle. My eyelids started to itch and burn a little bit. To perfectly candid, it was kind of annoying.
Seconds later, it hit me. This irritation was not normal. None of the other fruits treated me this way—they were gentle and respected me for who I was. And this sort of reaction was not unique, I realized. In fact, it has happened every time I have ever eaten a peach.
I typed my symptoms into Google in a panic (I am not a licensed physician, but I know my own body best, and any person who says otherwise is either an idiot or a charlatan). The Internet confirmed my worst suspicions. I have a minor allergy to raw peaches, and it is terminal.
In between hysterical weeping spells and a few more bites of the peach, I have somehow managed to carry on since then.
Perhaps the most horrifying aspect of my handicap is that I suffered through all that discomfort for entire life without any idea it was there. Sure, Tiny Tim couldn’t walk or grow properly, but at least he had the crutches to remind him that he was broken. His family even paid him the courtesy of naming him “Tiny” so that he would never forget his irremediable frailty. I, on the other hand, have had to go through these twenty-one years thinking that I was invincible, and that peaches were my friends. How I envy that little fictional cripple boy, with his oversized hat and earnest Cockney charm and lack of existential crises.
One might even say that eating that peach was my original sin. Destiny never meant for me to fly so high or dream so big. Maybe somewhere along the line I missed a divine message commanding me never to consume the fruit of a certain tree. Even so, it would have been nice for God to drop just a hint of rationale, like, “The peach will not unlock some forbidden knowledge, but it will make parts of your face a little itchy.” I would have been cool with that.
Still, I do not blame God for my curse. How could I? For God is not some jealous spirit who strikes down any wretched mortals who seek to match his glory. No, God is more like a giant old man sitting on a cloud, who cries when people touch themselves or eat meat on Fridays.
What I mean to say is that the world is not a logical place. I am learning that I am not perfect, that I have flaws. But that does not mean that I still can’t be better than everyone else. That is the choice I’m making. I promise to jump, fight, laugh, and love three times better than the folks with twice as much luck as me (I did the math, it checks out). As long as I believe in myself, I can have my cake and eat it too. Just as long as there aren’t any peaches inside.