As I started choking on the single-serving white pill in a restaurant downtown, half coughing, half desperately trying to swallow to get this blockage from my throat, it started to dawn on me: I could die because I wanted to have cheese on my burger.
My intolerance of my lactose intolerance was finally going to do me in.
I stared at my friend, hands up at my throat as I tried to keep hacking, almost puking as I finally coughed the little lactase enzyme pill onto the floor.
No one even seemed to notice. My friend casually asked if I was okay as he took a bite of his burger. Did these people not REALIZE what had just happened? Dairy had almost been the death of me!
But you know what? Maybe they were right not to panic.
Because even though I had just nearly inhaled this stupid little pill, and I could still feel the chalkiness it left in my windpipe, within minutes I popped another and dug into my delicious dairy-smothered burger.
'Cause here's the thing. No one asks to become lactose intolerant. Those of us who are tend to utterly reject the idea of being forced into a part-vegan lifestyle.
You might not realize it if you're not in our unlucky camp, but fully 75 percent of the adults in the world are like this. Our bodies stop producing that magical enzyme that crushes pesky milk sugar basically at the end of puberty.
In most of the world, people just start to steer clear of milk.
But this is America, a land swimming in the animal husbandry and milk-loving genetic mutations of Northern European ancestors, allowing dairy to reign supreme.
We are not gonna let something as inconvenient as diarrhea or a stomach growling so loud people can hear it across the room stop us from eating the creamy delights we've come to know and love. Especially not when you can buy manufactured digestive help in bulk at Costco.
And listen, I tried to cut out dairy after my body first betrayed me. But all it took was having real butter for the first time in years to make me decide life is too short to give up that delicious manna from heaven.
"But you almost choked!" I can hear you saying. "How can that be worth it?"
Because no manner of nuts or plants blended with water can really replace the real thing. Call me another victim of Big Milk, I guess.
Besides, what's life without a little risk? ♦