Chinese Eat Everything, or Do They? – A Tale of Allergies, Misguided Thoughts and Racial Beliefs

“Chinese people eat anything on two wings, except a plane, and on four legs, except a table.” – Ancient Chinese Quote, probably said by a white guy who was having lunch with a Chinese guy sometime in the last few decades.

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Scorpion Skewers (Photo by NationalStereotype.com)

Yesterday, a good friend of mine, Laurel Livingston wrote a blog about her rather extensive allergies, and how it makes some of the simple things that we take for granted health wise a rather scary place to be in. It was a frank well written piece. It’s also one that pretty much shows what’s facing ALL of us in the future as new super antibiotic resistant bugs are coming out. ┬áTake a look at this episode of CBC’s Marketplace (I’m not sure if those outside of Canada can see it) to get an idea about how scary it will be.

Nevertheless, Laurel lives in a scary world when it comes to medical procedures. Imagine trying to go to a dentist, and you can’t use certain types of antibiotics around her to keep the area safe. Or try having an operation of any sort for that matter. Regardless of it all, she remains a positive, beautiful soul always.

Inspired by her, I decided to take a break from my usual updates on the ongoing saga that is my kids, or more tales from the Spy world, to tell of my own problems with allergies, albeit in a unique Chinese cultural way. You see, the quote above is actually held by Chinese people practically as a mantra. During Chinese New Year, I had my guests fighting over who can eat the fish eyes in a whole steamed fish! But in my case I was diagnosed with a lethal allergy against raw fruit of the Rose and Plum family of plants.

“Waitaminute” you’re probably crying out. If you know me, I’m probably one of the top 100 foodies in Calgary. Thankfully, this allergy only kills me when the fruits and related nuts are RAW. I still have to cook the living crap out of it to ensure that I can eat it safely without worrying about that pesky DEATH side effect though. Imagine not having Apple Pie until it’s been nuked into Applesauce. That’s been my existence since childhood.

As I said, it’s a badge of honor for Chinese to eat virtually anything. I was the same way until I turned 10 when I noticed that eating certain fruits actually started to hurt a LOT. I couldn’t bite into an apple without having my throat tighten, my tongue swell, and my lungs literally feel like it’s being constricted by an MMA fighter on a ‘roid rage. Needless to say, I stopped eating fruit in general then and there.

As I grew up, I got a reputation as being a really picky eater as a result. My parents couldn’t understand it and my extended family definitely didn’t. Heck, my Uncle William gave me this lecture that “sometimes the body reacts if the mind rejects it” speech. If there was ANY time I wanted to deck that son-of-a-…. , well, it was that time (and another time when he had the balls to tell me to my face that he was ashamed that I was his nephew for not being Chinese enough). It was frustrating, but hey, what was I to say really. I had heard of peanut allergies, but APPLES?

When I was 18, my mom took out a Japanese pear. She was needling me to try it out, saying that “because it’s Japanese, it’s safe for me”. Well, I suppose I just got fed up and decided to test it out. My logic was, “So what, I’ll be uncomfortable or in pain for a few hours, but mom stops bugging me.” So I took one bite. No reaction. Curious. A second. Curious indeed. My mom then said, “See, it’s safe, why don’t you finish it.” I didn’t even make it to a third as I started to black out and the old reactions kicked in with a vengeance.

After that near death event, I saw my doctor asap who arranged me to be tested. There it was, “allergic to the Rose and Plum family”, and worse, I had found out that I crossed into the lethal range at some point over the years. That was enough for me to steer clear of raw fruit for good, but there were always little accidents as I didn’t know that this extended to certain types of nuts as well. For example, I could eat peanuts and walnuts, but I can’t eat almonds or macadamia nuts. I could enjoy raspberries and blueberries, but not blackberries and strawberries. And then there was the problem with my mom again. She hated that I was deprived of certain tastes and flavors, and kept trying to introduce these foods to me in the hope I could develop an immunity. THANKFULLY, my dad would fight to keep me alive. Considering the insurance policy on me, I always playfully joked that mom would be the first suspect if anything happened to me.

A bit later, I discovered that my dad and my sister had the SAME allergy, but not at the same intensity. They just shrugged it off, and avoided the foods themselves. As they were a bit more discreet, no one really noticed (yeah, I admit I was a bit of a jerk by openly refusing the foods).

Since then, there’s been a number of accidents involving epipens, ambulances and a notable episode of crabcakes with unmarked slices of apple on my honeymoon while trapped on a cruise ship. All of them are pretty funny, but it’s a tale for another day.

But one last closing point, my allergies are probably the secret to success with my marriage. I have a LOT of female friends, and I’m a bit of a flirt, but I don’t DARE do anything that crosses the line. As my wife cooks the dinners, it’s a scary thought knowing she can take me out for good if I ever do cheat!

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ADVENTURES IN THE SPY BIZ : A PARANOID WORLD

It’s sad you know. The world where I lived in makes so many people paranoid for the stupidest reasons. And when they’re that paranoid, you really have no idea what to expect.

So to make a change of things, I’ve decided to talk about some of the past cases I’ve been in, that a psychologist was better warranted.

First, I’d like you to understand that many of these people genuinely need to have treatment. Of all of the cases I’ve been personally involved in with people I call paranoid, in only 1 case out of 6 YEARS actually panned out as a genuine situation… and even then that went sideways.

Next, if you’re wondering why I even took the cases in the first place, there’s 2 reasons. One, there’s the old saying, when there’s smoke there’s fire. For my “normal” clients, I’ve found that to be accurate. But in the realm of madness, it’s so much harder to tell. I had to give them the benefit of the doubt. Second, sometimes just having my presence and involvement was enough to give a little peace of mind. Either way, here are a few memorable clients or would be clients.

1- Killer lasers from above.

C-130 Hercules armed with the Advanced Tactical Laser

C-130 Hercules armed with the Advanced Tactical Laser

Around 2008 or so, a gentleman came in saying that the US army was after him, even trying to kill him. I admittedly went instantly into “look serious but try not to sigh” mode for obvious reasons. He barely looked like he had $100 total to his name, but I calmly stood by and listened. As for that plane you’re seeing, that’s a C-130 Hercules. It costs thousands to keep in the air. It costs hundreds of thousands to maintain. Inside of its belly is a 100-kilowatt laser capable of knocking hole through a 3’x3′ piece of metal from 20 km an hour, and costs tens of thousands of dollars to fire. But according to the would-be client, it wasn’t flying around New Mexico test grounds or somewhere in Afghanistan. Somehow, it was circling Calgary around and around, for the sole purpose of striking him.

2- Radiation girl

Radiation Warning

Radiation Warning

In 2009, this poor girl came into my store and gave me a pretty harrowing take of how an international conglomerate has been purposely trying to kill her. No matter where she would move to, this secret Illuminati was going to send a would be assassin to move into a nearby apartment or house or wherever she was and would dose her with radioactive isotopes. That’s when she requested I find out who was this international group, and to see if I could obtain a lead-lined suit of some sort.

For months, she would come in asking for one bizarre thing after another, but for the most part it was harmless. It was around the time that she started to ask for enough copper to make a Faraday cage and enough lead to line her home against plutonium is when I started to stall. Basically put, she was asking me to procure her tens of thousands of dollars of metal, to combat a supposed beam of radiation or a stick of plutonium that just happens to be lying around that was sent by secret illuminati killers. I couldn’t in all conscience take advantage of this. In the end (well so far at least), she still has her money, doesn’t appear to have been radiation poisoned the last 6 years, and I can sleep at night.

3- From the Tabloid Pages

Ninjas in Trees

Ninjas in Trees

Now this is something that’s unique. This client, I had honestly thought she was a paranoid schizophrenic. She walked into my office, and told me a story about how things were missing all the time.

Buuut, I hooked her up with a hidden camera, and then had it watch her living room. And wouldn’t you know, she really DID have someone coming into her place. The super of her building was later convicted for breaking and entering and theft, as she was one of many victims in that building while the super padded his income. Mission solved, and that was that… or so I thought.

The following week, she came back, with a video that she stated was conclusive proof that a team of ninjas with camcorders were filming her 24/7 for some secret website. Needless to say, I hate it when my initial thoughts of a person is later confirmed in such a surprising manner. As I couldn’t convince her otherwise, I ended up watching a 30 min video of trees swaying in the wind where apparently there are invisible ninjas. I have to admit, those ninjas were good. Never saw a thing.

4- The Purse Whisperer

Cameras catching thieves in women's wear

Cameras catching thieves in women’s wear

This lady came in all perturbed and upset in a manner that was almost worrying. As she tried to describe her problem through her tears and her fear, she described how someone was trying to gaslight her by moving her purse every day a few inches here and there. Please note… I said MOVE, not steal, damage, break or hide… just move.

Well, I tried to reason with her, but there are just some cases that you can’t talk any sense to, so I just gave up and my boss designed a hidden wireless cameras system that did nothing but watch her purse all day long. Being a custom job, it wasn’t cheap, so I hope she found what she was looking for.

That’s enough for now, as there’s plenty of memories of my 6 1/2 years as a Spy/Investigator. In the meantime, I close off this entry with my farewell interview as I walked off into the sunset last month.