For years I have made jokes about gluten-intolerant people. They’re unkind jokes that refer to that particular group as rather depressed despondent people huddled over hard blocks of angry bread. Bread that refuses to be cut. Bread that can’t be chewed without snapping a tooth.
I say in my routine that this is the $10 bread of misery and depression. Special bread for special people. People who make everyone’s life hard because they can’t eat stuff. The people who make cooking a simple meal problematic. These people who must constantly be considered at every morning tea. Who need special plates of dry rice crackers wrapped in plastic organised ahead of time.
My joke is simple. Stupid really. I say I have just found out that I am gluten intolerant… intolerant. I can’t tolerate gluten-intolerant people. People actually cheer when I do this joke. That is how much they dislike the GF tribe.
In the years of writing ironic comment and doing my gags I have received some rather terse and at times very unfriendly letters and emails from gluten-intolerant people who don’t find my jokes funny. Some have been downright abusive. You might even say ‘intolerant’. They have poured out their stories of gluten pain from their gluten intolerant hearts and bleated on to me about how hard it has been. How much they suffer.
I have read those letters without compassion in a detached kind of amusement knowing that these gluten-intolerant people are behaving exactly like the people in my joke. Humourless and angry. Well my Mandy Nolan hating Gluten-Intolerant Friends, I have happy news. Revenge Is Yours. Nolan has fallen. You bloody gluten-intolerants have won. I now appear to be gluten intolerant. Of course I haven’t had a test. That would be conclusive. I just can’t eat gluten any more. It’s a conspiracy!
Some gluten-free bastard has made a wheat doll of me, a yeasty voodoo Mandy Nolan, and has stuck long pins into my bread-fashioned gut. How ironic, that she – the teller of the GF jokes – should become GF. It’s cruel.
I love bread. And when I say love, I mean that there was a time when a fresh steaming loaf of home-cooked bread would have me breathless with longing. I was a gluten warrior. But now I can’t eat the stuff. Just a single mouthful and I bloat up like I’m 38 weeks pregnant, and then I get three hours of stabbing abdominal pain. Followed by some rather unspeakable bathroom activity.
Gluten creates The Swollen Nolan. I have had no choice but to spend the last five months totally gluten free. I had to give in and give up. No gluten equals no pain. It’s a bit of a no brainer really. And while I understand the glee of the gluten police at my digestive digression, I have to admit I do find it rather amusing. It’s afforded me an insight I was previously denied.
I am now the fuckwit I used to make fun of. I am that idiot in a restaurant looking at a menu, then asking in a passive aggressive tone ‘do you have anything gluten free?’ I understand the rage now of the glutetards.
I have sat in a fondue restaurant in Paris surrounded by baguettes and melted cheese. There is little joy in Paris without a breadstick. To be gluten free in Paris is to deny joy. Their entire culture celebrates gluten. There’s not a moment of the day when you’re not accosted with a big crunchy baguette. And the pastry. I couldn’t smell a croissant without weeping into my sad flat omelette. I became dark and resentful. I found myself scowling at people thoughtlessly enjoying cake in front of me.
And then one day it occurred to me. I needed to lose the resentment and the anger. That is no way to live. The only way to live in my gluten-free universe was to accept that I was better than them. I had evolved. I was FREE. Gluten Free. The gluten-free people will inherit the earth. Unfortunately though, it is an earth without good bread.