There are times when I do something so stupid I hesitate to admit it to anyone. (This is why I don’t like about the proliferation of cell phone cameras. I’d rather have some control over which of my embarrassments I share.) So it was recently, when I ate a bowl of oatmeal.
The simplest things can go horribly wrong, especially for me. Remember, I’ve been a volunteer firefighter for almost four decades, and was never seriously injured in that position, depending on your definition of “seriously” (unless you count my original back injury). Yet I once pulled a muscle jumping over a mud puddle. As a teen, I gouged out a piece of my ankle while hauling trash to the curb. There’s a reason why my wife doesn’t let me use power tools.
So it’s no surprise that oatmeal almost did me in.
In my quest to be healthy–yes, there is some irony in this–I’ve been eating food that’s supposed to help lower my cholesterol. So it was one morning when I came downstairs, in my usual post-sleep stupor, and decided to make a nice bowl of healthy oatmeal, to which I always add brown sugar because, hey–I’ve got an unhealthy reputation to maintain.
The brown sugar, to my surprise, had hardened. Annoyed and half asleep, I chipped out enough to throw into the food, where it eventually softened and mixed. Then I ate while watching a documentary about the first Americans: I’m one of those people who has to read or watch something while eating. I haven’t eaten at the table since 1989, except at holidays.
(In fairness, I’ve been researching for a book that involves the first Americans, so there. Spoiler: They didn’t call themselves Americans.)
Then I took my bowl into the kitchen, went to put the brown sugar away, and noticed the brown sugar was white.
Brown sugar is supposed to be brown. That’s why they call it brown.
At first I thought my wife must have spilled some powdered sugar in there while making something, which is dumb because both packages were sealed up. Then I looked more carefully. I’d never seen it on brown sugar, but I’ve seen it plenty in other places: Mold.
I’d eaten a bowl of mold.
Oh, and by the way: I’m allergic to mold.
It didn’t really seem that bad at first. I had a bit of a gut ache, which is to be expected. I’m allergic to almost everything else, but I’ve never had an allergic reaction to food or medicine, so I figured maybe my body had harmlessly digested it. I guess it partially did, because my mold meal made it all the way into my lower digestive tract before the trouble kicked in.
I see no particular reason to give you the details. For all I know, you’re reading this while eating.
What I can say is that my intestine is no friend of mold, and the only real advantage of the whole thing is that I caught up on some of my reading while stuck in the bathroom. Also, I lost six pounds in a day. I would not recommend this as a diet, because once I got some 7 Up and soda crackers into me, I gained most of it back.
The stupid part, of course, is that I didn’t look into the bag and spot the mold before I put it into the oatmeal. It wasn’t the oatmeal’s fault, obviously. Just the same, for safety’s sake, maybe with future breakfasts I should change over to donuts, or pancakes, or bacon. Or all of the above.
After all, we must take care of our health.