Odious and Peculiar

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Sunday, May 04, 2008
Some nights ago I was indulging in a nip of red wine and a bite or two of chocolate, when I heard a small voice. "Ahem. I contain ze sulfites." Turned my head, looked around. Assessed the level of the bottle.

"I beg your pardon?" I asked.

"I contain ze sulfites," said the wine. "You should be aware of zis."

"And why is that, o bottle?"

"Well, I am sure I do not know. But if you did need to know, I 'ave done my duty."

"Ah." I poured another glass. The wine muttered a long phrase sotto voce. "What was that?" I said sharply.

"I said," it replied with exaggerated care, "zat I should not be consumed by ze women who are or may be pregnant."


"Ze Surgeons General thought it was important. Zey are smart fellows, you should listen to zem."

Giving up for the moment on the wine, I turned to the chocolate. "Do you have anything to say for yourself?" I asked.

"I'm chock full of antioxidants!" it chirruped. "Ask me about my health benefits!"

"You two," I said, "are getting worse than my breakfast cereal."

"Unfair!" said the wine.

"True," I said, considering. "Nobody is worse than the breakfast cereal. Just sitting there on the table, mumbling to itself like Rain Man. 'Vitamin A 25%. Vitamin C 2%, Riboflavin, definitely 35%.' You know, it's talk like this that makes my work a living hell. People are so flipped out about eating well that they're avoiding things for no reason. I had one person--neither coeliac nor intolerant--ask me if it was okay to eat gluten. She didn't even know what it was, and she was worried about it."

"I'm gluten-free!" said the chocolate, before the wine and I shushed it.

"And what is ze gluten?"

"It is an," I enunciated, "ergastic amorphous protein."


"Quite. Real food doesn't even have ingredients! It's just, 'bacon'. Or 'milk'. Or 'bread'. Maybe 'bread with things in it'. But look at you. They've got you spouting off about sulfites and birth defects. O tempora, o vino."

I looked to the bottle, but as it was empty, it had nothing left to say.

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