A long and sordid tale of Pickles

We have a pickle tray in my family. I’m not sure if this is a normal thing or just a wacky my-family thing, but we do. It’s glass or crystal, I’m not sure which because I’ve never examined it too closely. My mother had learned the hard way to keep me away from breakables. While she scurried about cooking and cleaning for holiday parties, the task of filling this tray inevitably fell to five-year-old me. Possibly because the task took me an absurdly long time and kept me from being underfoot or in backyard mud puddles.

The pickle tray has sections: one for black olives, one for green olives, one for gherkins – which I believed were the shrunken warty fingers of witches, and the last section for dill pickle spears.
I would fill it using a method I mastered in the pick-your-own strawberry patch: one olive in the tray, one dill pickle in my tummy. One nasty gherkin in the tray, one dill pickle in my tummy. This method may take a little longer and may require two jars of dill pickles, but I never complained.

Until a half-hour later — usually right around the time the first guests showed up — I would get sick.

My mother would frantically shepherd me to the upstairs bathroom while gathering coats, accepting appetizer trays, and dispensing hugs. I’d boot, rally, and run downstairs to be admired by aunts and uncles and scamper off with my cousins.

Then came THE DAY. The day when my mom informed me that I couldn’t do the pickle tray. “I don’t want you touching it.”

“But why?” I asked.

“Because you’re allergic to pickles,” she answered. “Go set the table – fold the napkins into animals if you want.”

So the Thanksgiving table featured an assortment of origami napkins and the pickle tray was filled by my sister and kept out of my reach.

Thus began a saga of pickle-avoidance: Is there relish in that tuna? I can’t eat it. I need my hamburger without pickles, please. At restaurants I’d push the pickle spear off my plate with my sister’s fork and tear off any part of a sandwich role that’d been touched by the juices.

I was allergic. That’s what allergic people do, right?

This continued for years: No relish on my hotdog, please. I’ll pass on the deviled eggs…

Until one day I was at a deli with my family. By this point I was in high school and had the drill down: “No pickles on my plate, please.”

Yet when my cucumber sandwich was delivered, there was an electric green spear right beside it. “Man! They messed up my order, does anyone want my pickle?” I began my ritual of tearing off the pickle-juiced portions of the bread.

“You really do hate pickles, don’t you?” My mother said with a shake of her head. “That’s so funny, you used to love them.”

I put the roll down, “What are you talking about? I’m allergic to pickles.”

My mom’s mouth twitched in the way it does when she’s trying not to laugh because even though she thinks she’s about to be funny, she knows her audience won’t feel the same way. “Um, Tiff….”

“Yeeeesss?”

“You’re not actually allergic to pickles.”

WHAT?

“You’re not actually allergic to pickles. That was just something I told you when you were little because you’d eat them until you got sick.” She shrugged. “So go ahead and enjoy.”

“Why didn’t you ever tell me this?” I was flabbergasted – all those pickle-free years and burgers.

“I guess I forgot. Oops.”

Oops? Oops? Was there any other part of my medical history she’d forgotten to tell me? I scowled like only a teenager can, ate my pickle, her pickle, and both my little brothers’ pickles. There was more than a ten-year pickle deficit in my diet, and I wanted to start fixing that immediately.

It is possible that I got sick afterward.

I still get like this. No, I don’t still gorge myself on pickles until I ralph. (Occasionally I overindulge in Swedish Fish and coffee, but that’s another story). I do, however, fixate on one task, item, whatever, until I’ve overdone it. With running this can result in over-training injuries. With reading I earn raccoon-like circles from too many late nights with books under the covers. With Twitter it becomes St. Matt threatening to hide Petunia. While writing I spend so much time IMH, that the line with reality becomes blurred.

And this April, it was BEDA. This post completes it; I’ve officially blogged each day this month. BEDA could not have come at a more chaotic time: there were roadtrips, crisis’s, parent-teacher conferences, and TBALMCSAP revisions, but not even the Easter bunny prevented me from posting.

I’m glad that April doesn’t have 31 days, and I’m glad BEDA’s over. It was fun and I’ve loved daily comments, but I’m starting to feel that ut-oh-I’ve-over-done-it feeling. It’s time to slowly back away from my blog and leave it be for a few days.

Except, back when I was a tiny-Tiffany, right after I booted, rallied, ran downstairs, and greeted the grown-ups, before I headed to the backyard to rumpus with my cousins– I’d make a stop at the pickle table to grab another spear or two.

In other words: I’ll see you soon.

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