The Snow White Syndrome

by Kathryn Baldwin

Studying abroad in Mexico, my “host mother” was a vegetarian, slave-to-her-husband grandmother with a soft voice and more patience in the kitchen than Mother Teresa. Sitting at “Mamá’s” table for comida was like receiving the holy host at church as a severely devout Catholic. Still, when she handed me t

hat polished red apple for the third time to pack in my lunch for a field trip, I morphed from a worshipper to Snow White herself.

Slyly avoiding those evil potions was a routine for years ever since they’d started to make the inner lining of my mouth numb, swollen, or worse: itchy. I could NOT be allergic. To apples? What about our apple tree and Grandma Charlene’s apple pies?! No way! Luckily, each time prior to this field trip, I had managed to pass off the poison to a bus-buddy with the excuse that my plump torta with avocado was enough, and I’d reached an OXXO for a snack-run just in time to pacify the bear in my belly. My bony shoulders could use all the help they could get and gifting my red ball of fiber was just asking for hunger. Unfortunately, this field trip was different.

After wandering museums, perching half a butt-cheek on anything that remotely looked like a chair, and inhaling the thick, black air of Mexico City, we drug our feet up the bus steps for a late lunch and I swear my torta was suspended in the air like a hovering angel from heaven. It was squashed to a corner by my arch nemesis the red apple and sweating inside its clear plastic bag, but my heartbeat found new life as I freed an edge for a bite. The upper and lower rows of my teeth met with a clack; there was not a sliver of avocado between the bread, nor a juicy tomato slice as a substitute. My mind raced through the future and before I even pouted through the next bite I was anticipating my coming hunger. “I will not be tossing this apple today” I thought, “at least not until I find a back up snack.”

The scenery became more monotonous along the ride out of the city, robbing me of distractions for my loneliness and boredom. I tossed and turned in that coffin-like bus seat, wishing fo

r the remedy of sleep but nothing could get my mind off of the shiny red apple that I had tucked between the window wall and my left thigh. I decided that nothing would solve my depressing mood better than a beautiful snack. At home, a family sized bag of tortilla chips, kettle corn, or a pint of ice cream would solve this problem (or so I seem to think every time), but there on that scratchy blue seat, enclosed by suffocating walls and sweaty bodies, my apple was the only antidote.

Suddenly charmed by its spell, I noticed that small apple was big enough for two hands. My shoulders reached forward, my forearms linked, and when my front teeth poked through the thick skin, I stopped denying the evil queen. My eyes rolled back with relief for the five minute indulgence, my pressing thoughts fully

released for the moment. By the time I had stashed the naked, yellowing apple core, my once watering l

ips were suddenly pulsing. My guilty lips grew, they burned, they tingled and finally, they itched. For the next four sweltering days of life in “the eternal spring” of Cuernavaca, those swollen, burning lips, along with oversized tonsils and a burning esophagus were a true motivator to remind Mother Teresa before the next field trip that I preferred a less poisonous ball of fiber.

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One Comment to “The Snow White Syndrome”

  1. You’re not the only one… but my reaction isn’t nearly as severe. On a side note I’m also slightly allergic to avocados, and thus slightly allergic to guacamole…so am I slightly allergic to Kathryn Guacamole? the world may never know. Anyways awesome blog post!

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