Gluten, from Latin and meaning “glue,” is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat, barley or rye. It may also be found in some cosmetics, hair products and other dermatological preparations.

OMG. It’s not only in my Cheerios, it’s in the face cream designed to eliminate my wrinkles. It’s in my shampoo, the first one I found that could make my white hair soft, pliable and attractive, like Richard Gere’s.

It gets worse. This from Wikipedia: “About 1 in 133 people in developed nations have intolerance to gluten.” In some people, the intolerance can be life-threatening.

I walk through the market every night with at least 133 people. Could I be that one?

It goes on to say, “Buddhist monks discovered gluten in the seventh century. The monks, who were vegetarians, were trying to find a substitute for meat.” Is it really a weight-loss thing? Think about it. When was the last time you actually saw a fat monk?

She, who consumes more wheat than anyone I know, is obviously taking in serious, perhaps toxic, doses of gluten daily. Whenever we eat out, I almost always have soup. She invariably orders sandwiches of all kinds. She bakes cookies, muffins and some dark, dangerous looking things called “congo bars.” I don’t know exactly what a congo bar is, but you can bet it’s loaded with gluten.

I grew up eating wheat with tons of gluten-loaded snacks in between. OMG. Wheaties? From ages 3 to 12, I consumed enormous bowls of Wheaties. It’s the freaking “Breakfast of Champions,” I mean, that girl with all the teeth — Mary Lou Retton, for heaven’s sake. What could have more wheat than something called Wheaties? You would think they should just now call it “Glutens” and put Gwyneth Paltrow on the box.

Then I moved on to gluten hell: Post Toasties, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Grape-Nuts and eventually to where I am now with Cheerios. I love multi-grain Cheerios. Then I discovered, upon finally reading the label, that it’s full of wheat, oats, barley, and probably Love Canal doses of dreaded gluten.

It seems that my childhood neighborhood was the Chernobyl of the dreaded gluten. It permeated our daily lives. White Castle burgers, hot dog buns, Oreos.

I’m thinking now that the host given at communion in Catholic Mass is pure gluten. Not only did I partake of it, but I was complicit in giving it to the entire parish. OMG! I was a gluten pusher. What do priests do now, offer both wheat and gluten-free hosts?

Of course, there was Wonder Bread, the whitest thing outside of a Grange meeting in Iowa. I think I ate more Wonder Bread than anything except Milky Way candy bars. I ate it with braunschweiger, ham, turkey, Spam, peanut butter and jelly and just plain ketchup.

The news: My oldest is getting married in 10 months. She is a clone of “She.” She has laid down the law. There will be no belly-fat people in her wedding pictures. “Wedding photos are forever” is her new mantra.

I’m told by a gluten-free friend that If I go on a gluten-free diet, I will lose 50 pounds in time to walk down the aisle. Of course, if I lose 50 pounds, I will have to be wheeled down the aisle.

My friend is prone to exaggeration, but she looks pretty great. She gave me a list of the top 10 foods to avoid. It’s a disaster: pasta. Are you kidding? It took me months to get on the Mediterranean diet and get used to whole-wheat pasta. Now Italian is bad? No Pizza? Lasagna?

French fries, hot dogs, ketchup. Into the trash. Matzos? Oy vey. No Panko on my fish. Ugh.

I can handle no chips, but ketchup? Ketchup is America.

Rip that delicious stuffing out of the turkey; remove the biscuits from the table. Did the pilgrims care about gluten? Will it be a tea party issue in 2016?

It’s late. I’m cold and hungry. I’m going to the kitchen. There must be a piece of gluten-free something somewhere in there.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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