Did You Brush? Let's Get Real About Kissing and Food Allergies For a Minute
Talking about food allergies and kissing can be super awkward but we're going to do it here because although it's the pits it's also important. The last thing I wanted to do when I was in high school was draw attention to my 'disability'. I felt like the more people knew that I came with an instructions list, the less friends I'd have. So I went for years only sharing my allergy info with as few people as possible.
Being a bookish type for most of my tween and teen years it wasn't until my mom made an offhand remark about giving me hives when she kissed my cheek after having a coffee that suddenly it clicked. I realized that, oh yeah, I guess if I ever have a boyfriend I'll have to be conscious of what he ate. And as soon as I realized it I decided I just wouldn't have a boyfriend for as long as possible.
Being a quiet and shy person this wasn't really a problem at least for the first couple years of school. But then eventually it did happen that I let myself get close enough to a boy my age that he asked me out after school and I said yes. He was really nice and we were friends, but I felt like if he went to kiss me and I had to stop him to ask if he brushed his teeth I would die of embarrassment. Or worse, if he kissed me and I broke out in hives or a reaction it could be a really bad situation. So the next morning when I got to school I told him I wasn't interested anymore. Looking back I realize how stupid this was, but I was 15 and insecure about the quality that I thought made me a loser. I was also worried that whoever I dated wouldn't understand how severe my allergies were.
Later that year a girl around my age had the worst case scenario happen to her. Christina Desforges died of an allergic reaction in 2005 after kissing her boyfriend who had peanut butter several hours earlier and hadn't brushed. And a year later Sabrina's Law was formed in schools and suddenly allergies were a thing people talked about in the mainstream media. This scared the shit out of me because it was my biggest fear and in a lot of ways made me more cautious. But it also helped me to come to terms with the fact that this was a part of my life I'd have to face. It was never going to go away. I couldn't just run away from every guy who ever asked me out unless I planned on being alone forever, and that was no way to live.
I can't say that I got over it right away or that I've completely come to terms with my insecurity and anxiety now. But at least I did find strategies to manage my fears as I grew up, sometimes making really stupid mistakes along the way... but that's a story for another post ;)