The Palate Cleanser

“A Breakfast Food Revolt”
by Jack Bristow

“And that is how I firmly believe we can significantly reduce the amount of teen pregnancies in the United States of America.”  Senator Stevenson looks directly at the TV cameras.

The audience cheers a perfunctory cheer- if such a thing exists.

I walk onstage and shake Stevenson’s sweaty, lifeless hand.

And now!

It is my turn to speak. And speak I do.

“Ladies and gentlemen- those of you here watching me in the audience and those of you fine people watching me at home- I, Senator Walter Brigman, have made an extraordinary discovery,” I tell them earnestly.  And do you have any idea what that discovery is?”

Stumped.  They don’t know.  Except: Cough, sneeze, snort, burp.

But no answers.

“Think about it,” I tell them.  “The answer to it all is right under most of your noses in the morning. It is what will kill all of our Country’s ills finally.  And effectively.  Once and for all.”

Further silence.  Still.

“Still no idea?”  I look upon their contrite, ignorant little faces.  The question is no longer one of rhetoric.  I am now truly angry.

“What has the power to quash all the cancers of society?”

They are stupid. Yet engrossed.   Maybe there is still some hope for them.

“AIDS.  Influenza.  Colds.  Cancers of all shapes and forms.  Teen pregnancies. Terrorism.  Global Warming.  Pestilences.  Smallpox.  The measles.  Genital warts of all stripes.  Wars.  Drug addiction. Extortion.  Rape.  Child molestation.  Assault and battery, assault with no battery.  C’mon people!  For the love of God, has it not yet dawned on you?”  I puff on my pipe, filled with medicinal marijuana.  Panama Red.

Exasperated, I continue.

“See. Unlike my esteemed colleague, Senator Stevens, my answer doesn’t just reduce teen pregnancy, doesn’t just reduce all the other problems I noted, problems that are plaguing humankind- no. My answer will exterminate them.  Once and for all.  Haven’t you imbeciles caught on yet? Don’t you moronic people see the cure-all?  It is right in front of you!” I scream into the microphone.

They shout “What?”  Hostile.

I have struck a nerve. Breaking the tension, I give them the answer:


Now. Truly engrossed. They listen – attentively.

“Pancakes don’t stab. Don’t kill. Nor steal. Nor rape.”

Now. Engrossed ever more by my brilliant words.

“They will not get your teenage daughter pregnant!  They will not give it to your wife while you’re out working.  They do not start wars illegally.  They are neither jealous nor puffed up with pride!”

A busty blonde newswoman leaps to the stage and shoves her tongue down my throat. It’s hard to talk as she’s doing it. But I manage. Until a security officer escorts her away. I warn him to be gentle with her.

“They do not carry venereal disease. They do not give you crabs.  After twenty-five years or marriage, they do not run off with another pancake of the same gender, making you question your own sexuality in the process!”

The auditorium bursts out in joyful acclamation.  Like a preacher empowered by some holy ghost, I continue.  Empowered by the Holy Pancake.

“Pancakes are not meat!  They do not entail bloody, vicious murder!  And they cannot murder you!  Can’t give you Mad Cow Disease. Or freckles. Or … or …” I struggle to speak over their massive applause. “They don’t hire a lawyer and ask for child support!”

“Pancakes didn’t neglect capturing Osama bin Laden at Torra Borra. Nor did they squirt their maple syrup all over an intern pancake named Monica’s blue dress!”

More wild applause. And all of them- the audience, you understand- simultaneously turning their heads toward Senator Stevenson, who is in the corner, pissing himself a river of shame.

“Pancakes don’t piss themselves!” I exclaim, pointing my giant, god-sized pancake fist at Senator Stevenson’s. He cries.

The crowd mocks him.

“You know what else pancakes don’t do?”

“WHAT?” The crowd pleads to know.

“They don’t belittle Senator Stevenson,” I chide.  “Or anyone else for that matter.  They have more class than that.”  I momentarily turn my nose up at them.

“Damn right!”  The crowd agrees with my counsel.  And by now the same busty blonde who kissed me has broken free of the security officer’s grip and jumps over to the side of the stage where Senator Stevenson sits sulking and whimpering.  She gives him a lap dance.

Senator Stevenson regains faith and beams, “I love you all- I love my country.”

“Pancakes neither endorse nor condone Senator Stevenson’s personal conduct,” I half-scream at the exuberant crowd.

I go on:

“Pancakes aren’t partisan!  They have no slush funds!   And they do not vote in favor of political expediency over what they know to be right!”



“Pancakes vote right on abortion, stem cell research, and gay marriage every time!”

The entire audience- men and women, boys and girls, Democrats and Republicans, young and old, gay and straight, pro-choicers and no-choicers- grab hands, howling enthusiastically. Binding together as one.

As America should.

“Therefore…therefore!”I try to scream over their whole singular giant wall of voices.

“Ladies and gentlemen. My beloved countrymen and women, let us come together as the nationalistic brothers and sisters we truly are. And be- once and for all- One Pancake Nation. Under God…with liberty and justice and a vast selection of multi-flavored, multi-colored pancake syrup for all!”


“A Meaningful Discussion With My Internal Organs”
by Alyssa Greenberg

As if meeting his mother in her pearls and sanitary kitchen wasn’t enough to give me heartburn, I had to worry about the kidneys too.
– The kidneys and their ungracious behavior.
– The kidneys and their unwillingness to last through one traditional meal without protesting loudly enough to induce painful breathing.
Celiac disease — also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy — is a digestive and autoimmune disorder that results in damage to the lining of the small intestine when foods with gluten are eaten.

“It’s so nice to meet you,” she smiles and extends a hand. It feels nothing like my mother’s, whose sloping veins and bones are committed to memory.

There are no typical signs and symptoms of celiac disease.

Yet here are mine:

1. A tightening feeling.
2. A burning feeling.
3. A bad feeling.
4. A blood-stained, tear-soaked 3-day vacation to the restroom.

What are we having?” Because naturally, a boy who plays with my hair and calls me obnoxious things like “beautiful” and “cute as a button” would remember to tell his mother about my kidneys; about not forcing the diseased substance within five feet of my being. Naturally he would have explained to her that I am 5’7″, remarkably interesting and gluten-intolerant, but still a magnificent lover, worthy of obnoxious praise. Yes, naturally he would have told her all of that.

Gluten: (from the Latin gluten,glue“) is a composite of the proteins gliadin and glutenin. These exist, conjoined with starch, in the endosperms of some grass-relatedgrains, notably wheat, rye, and barley. Gliadin and glutenin comprise about 80% of the protein contained in wheat seed.

When I tell others about my “condition,” I have found that there are five possible responses that may follow…

1. The “You are impressive” response. Intelligent, rational human beings convince me that I am a warrior; a magnificent human being worthy of parades and party favors because I abstain from bread. This is my personal favorite response.
2. The”I am so sorry for you loss” response. This response is one of apology. Individuals who have a particularly intimate bond with doughnuts and pizza crust speak to me as if I’ve miscarried. The watery, apologetic glean that they wince as they learn of my misfortune looks similar to the appropriate sympathetic response that comes from lines like “I was molested as a child,” or “my cat was just boiled and eaten by terrorists.” All I need to say is “No thank you. It looks delicious, but I’m allergic” and the compassionate glances are so luscious and filling I don’t even need a bite of pound cake. “Thanks, but I’m simply too full. I couldn’t possibly have another bite of your empathy.”
3. The “Damn. I guess your allergies make you too Christian to party” response. This reaction is wrought exclusively by the male species. “Damn,” they reply as if I’ve castrated their hopes and dreams of future drunken grabass for all eternity. “So . . . you can’t drink beer then?” I always do my best to wistfully shake my head “no,” as though I can still taste the Miller Light; the memory of every man’s triple hops brewed wet dream. “There isn’t gluten is most hard alcohol,” I assure them before they’re too far gone into the dismal vision of a world where women can no longer be taken advantage of via alcohol.
4. The”TMI” or “Too much information” response. After I’ve declined ravioli or some Twinkie, respectfully, the declined individual is thrilled to tell me about every member of their family that have/has had an allergic reaction of any kind. Yes, I know all about your Aunt Doreen’s watery bowel movements when she eats Funyuns.
5. Finally, the “Disbelief” response. This response is often accompanied by a “no way!” or a “shut the hell up!” The individual cycles through every food that they can possibly think of while quizzing me as to whether an allergic response will follow. Cake? Cookies? Corn Bread? Matzo Balls? What about those noodles that are shaped like SpongeBob?

This guy kissed me for the first time while monster trucks were crushing one another on a television supported by a milk crate, like gluten crushes my digestive tract. This can’t be a good sign.

His house doesn’t smell like mine and his father has no beard and every father that should indeed be recognized as a father should have a beard or at least some degree of rough stubble that feels like sandpaper and this whole situation is making me have that feeling already. provides a list of celebrities who have Celiac Disease. This list includes:

Keith Olbermann (Countdown with Keith Olbermann)
Thom Hartmann (Air America Radio)
Rich Gannon’s (NFL Quarterback) daughter, Danielle
Joe C (Kid Rock’s Friend and Rapper) – Now Deceased

I don’t quite find comfort in this array of B-list celebrities. Is being gluten intolerant synonymous with being average?

Just take a look at some of the other allergies/diseases/disorders and the star-studded lists they’re boasting.

Peanut Allergies: Serena Williams, Ray Ramano, Clay Aiken, Joshua Jackson
Heart Disease: Larry King, Regis Philbin, David Bowie, Bill Clinton
Bipolar Disorder: Robert Downey Jr., Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Jimi Hendrix
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Charles Darwin, Billy Bob Thornton, Donald Trump, Leonardo DiCaprio

Even Herpes is more exciting than gluten intolerance!

Herpes: Liza Minelli, Robin Williams, Billy Idol, Paris Hilton (maybe)

Nearly one out of every 150 Americans suffer from celiac disease, according to a new study by the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research in Baltimore.  The research indicates that celiac is twice as common as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and cystic fibrosis combined.

I fail to understand why we can’t at least have Robin Williams on our team.

“So you’re an English major, dear?” his parents look back and forth at one another as if I reek of diarrhea and old cats.

Yes, this guy whose parents think I’m defective for studying “the language I already understand” is a Construction Management major. I’ve been kissing somebody who takes classes about mixing concrete and more than the
– Garlic Bread
Salad (with Croutons)
Flaky, smoldering apple pie for desert
that was on the menu that night it was him who made my kidneys hurt most. It was him who called me nauseating names and liked 4-wheel drive and John Deere and Monster energy drinks. It was him who didn’t read books or love sentences, whom I lowered my standards for because it was time to “get back out there.”

Untreated Celiac Disease can be life threatening.

NO. I did not stay for dinner because his mother wore pearls that were tired with cliches and his father had no beard and he, he with his humdrum kisses had no passion for me, or any good literature.

Now my kidneys feel perfectly fine.

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