Allergic to garlic

You know what annoys me? The looming collapse of civilization. That billions of people will starve from massive crop failures, be charbroiled in flames, drowned in floods, frozen in ice storms, or killed in warfare over dwindled resources, or become refugees that nobody wants. And that a few capitalist sociopaths will find ways to profit from climate change.

May 4, 2022

It's already underway, of course, but it's early days, so it can still be denied, and it is.

Plain facts, though: If you're under fifty, chances are you'll see the end of the denials and the beginning of the end. Younger than that, you'll see the misery first-hand, and you don't even want to think about what 'normal' will look like for the poor bastards of future generations, who'll inherit the disaster we've created and ignored.

Kind of annoying, don't you agree?

Long ago, a bright caveman figured out that if you rub two sticks together it sparks, and that was the beginning of science and human accomplishment. Since then, at great effort, a few clever members of our species have added bit-by-bit to our accumulating knowledge, making life easier for the 99% of us, like me, too dim to invent the wheel.

And now, after eons of accomplishment, humanity knows just enough to make the planet uninhabitable for humans. Our best scientists might, might be able to prevent the end, but the cavemen we've put in charge won't allow it.

Dean and I were talking in the kitchen. Well, he was talking; I was half listening and half plotting my getaway.

He usually talks about the many years he spent as a chef in upscale restaurants, and this morning he was talking about how difficult it can be to alter a dish for a customer who has allergies.

"Take garlic," he said. "Some people pretend they're allergic to garlic, when there's no such thing, of course."

"It's a real thing," I said. "Garlic allergy."

"Nah, it's BS," he said. "Maybe they've had dishes with too much garlic, or they think they don't like garlic, so they say they're allergic to it, and we're supposed to change everything about the prep? I'll reduce the garlic, but — eliminate it? Garlic is a backbone spice. Do you know how bland a dish can be with no garlic?"

"I'm sure people who don't like garlic lie and say they're allergic, and that's gotta be frustrating in the kitchen, but it's a real allergy some people have—"

"99% BS," he said, laughing.

"—same as some people are allergic to peanuts or bee stings. If they're allergic, garlic can be life-threatening."

"So we'd leave out the garlic," he shrugged, "and serve them a shitty dinner if that's what they want, even when we knew they were lying." Then he smiled, and added, "Well, most of the time."

I looked at Dean, psychically urging my toast to toast more quickly, so I could butter it lickety-split and leave Dean alone in the kitchen, but I had to ask. "Most of the time?"

"Yeah, sometimes I'd add a little back in. Just a pinch."

You bloody asswipe, I didn't say cuz I gotta live with that bloody asswipe. He's always talking about cooking, acting like he knows some things about being a chef — and he doesn't respect the allergies of people eating the food he's prepared?

Going to a restaurant, you're trusting the cook and waitstaff with your health, maybe your life. For someone seriously allergic to garlic, "just a pinch" can mean a trip to the hospital, maybe the morgue. And you've toyed with this in your kitchens, Mister Four Star Chef? You decide who's really allergic and who's exaggerating?

"I want to assume you're joking about that," I said, and turned the knob, went into my room and closed the door, same as legend has it John did, during his last year in this house.

Try to assume people are acting from ignorance, not arrogance or cruelty. That's what I tell myself, when I see all the shit-heads in the world. Some people are simply arrogant and cruel, though.

Dean got the benefit of my doubt for two weeks, but no more. I don't like him. He's a certified shit-head.

At the coffee shop on this fine morning, I was the ninth customer in line. Seattle is famous as a city addicted to caffeine, so the line wasn't a surprise and the wait wasn't long. What's peculiar was that six of the eight customers ahead of me were children, ranging in age from 8-14, I'd estimate.

They weren't drinking hot chocolate. Each of those kids ordered complicated coffee concoctions with instructions I don't understand, same as most other customers order. (I'm old-fashioned, and always get a cup of coffee.)

Some of these children were there with their parents — Mom and little Megan sipping their cappuccinos before Mom goes to work and Megan goes to grade school. Some were there by themselves. A boy and a girl, too young for coffee and too young for dating, held hands and breathed in the steam of each other's double-shot ventis, or whatever.

Carrying his latte in a to-go cup and obviously in a rush, a boy of about 12 hurried out the coffee shop's door, nudging it with his knee like he'd been through that door a thousand times and this was his ordinary weekday morning. He looked like an utterly normal kid from 7th grade, wearing tennis shoes and a backpack and Seahawks jacket, and if I'd even asked about coffee at that boy's age, a grown-up would've said, "It'll stunt your growth, kid."

Pity the teachers, if it's common for kids at school to be wired on espresso by the time the bell rings. And pity the kids.

I slept through school for eleven years — sometimes literally, more often by simply fading out of classroom reality and into a better one. To be marked present and actually be present, while the teacher drones on about poetry or long division or prepositional phrases? Being wide awake for that seems like some new form of child abuse.

Not many seats remained, so I shared a long table with a 30-something Asian woman who was leading a meeting on her laptop. "We're a week from launch, and I'm trying to find a solution that won't be a launch-blocker," she said at one point, sounding exasperated.

For 40 minutes she spoke management, a language inherently annoying, and then finally she issued a few commands and said goodbye, and the meeting was over. 

Then there was about a minute and a half of coffee shop quiet — Smokey Robinson on the sound system, clinking china, orders being taken, light laughter in the distance — before the lady said "Good morning" very loudly, and started her next meeting.

It's a coffee shop with free wi-fi, so I'll allow it. If she was doing this at the library I'd throttle her.

Seems like a horrible life to me, but we all choose our own hells, and she's chosen hers. Here's a hell perhaps even more hellish, though: Her assistant, ten years younger than her and sitting at the same table, followed along during the meeting but said nothing until it was over. "I think that went pretty well," is all he said, before the next meeting started.

She didn't reply.

I'm the new guy in the boarding house. Eventually everyone will hate me, but there's no rush, and I don't want to frighten the flatmates too quickly.

In a hurry this morning, I asked myself, do I really need to put on pants to go into the kitchen and pour a bowl of cereal? Nah, underwear and a t-shirt should be enough.

Dean was at the oven, and he talked at me, of course. If he didn't talk at me I'd think he was an imposter. He had no comment about my lack of pants, though.

♦ ♦ ♦

One-word newscast, because it's the same news every time...

Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to All Hat No Cattle, Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S., and always Stephanie...


  1. Nobody's going to your roomie's restaurant because he doesn't seem to have a restaurant, but on the longshot odds he wins a restaurant on The Price is Way Too High, I don't like garlic. It gives me heartburn, doesn't taste like food, and carries the subtlety of Trump at a rally. To test this thesis he should stick some up his ass.


    1. I will relay your message to my flatmate (not really).

      When I cook (rarely) I use only three spices -- salt, pepper, and garlic powder, or as me and the wife called it, garlic powpow. A little bit goes a long way, and adding too much is a cinch. When you say "Go easy on the garlic" or "No garlic" a cook ought to follow those instructions, and any cook who doesn't doesn't cook for me.

      Donald Trump is the personification of too much garlic.

  2. By the way, I believe in taking responsibility for what I say and write, so I most always sign my comments even if I have some kind of ID at the top. Now that the Googs made it hard to find a comment after the login process and people are commenting anonymously, my little signing habit is starting to make more sense. Not bragging, just saying.


    1. Sorry about the Googs.

      When I launched my wife's memorial blog I used Wordpress. It's a much more popular platform, most blogs and many businesses are on it, but I found it clunky and overcomplicated and switched it to Google's Blogger. That's where this blog is, too. It's less cluncky, from this publisher's perspective, but bugs lurk everywhere.

      Still surprises me.

      I expect to regret using Blogger even more than I do, when Google gives up and pulls the plug and I'm forced back to Wordpress.


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