The Peanut Butter Tryst

by Briton Underwood

I never was a big of a fan of peanut butter. I enjoyed it, sure, but I wasn’t infatuated like some other people I know. It was just peanut butter, nothing to put on a pedestal. The pedestal was reserved for Nutella. Peanut butter was cool, especially the chunky kind, but we didn’t have a real deep relationship.

I pulled out the peanut butter to make my son his first ever peanut butter sandwich. A few months had passed since that first tooth showed up, bright and white, on his gummy grin. Seven more had quickly followed, making his mouth a death trap for all things chewable.

Delicately slicing the bread into triangles, I marveled at my Martha Stewart-esque ability to make a gorgeous sandwich display, garnished with fresh-cut banana slices. It was looking scrumptious—I knew he would love it.

Camera in hand, I gave my son and his brother their fine meal. Picture after picture was taken, as my son smiled, threw pieces of banana and broke out in hives.

Turns out my kid’s body has a hate–hate relationship with peanuts. A trip to the emergency room confirmed the obvious, I was a proud parent of the kid everyone will hate in class because of his peanut allergy.

The peanut butter was slid off the counter into the trash can. It’s old spot replaced by EpiPens. The pantry went under investigation. Turns out a ton of stuff has peanuts in it. Most of the pantry was deemed unsafe for peanut boy. Every food product’s ingredient label was scoured over to ensure we weren’t accidentally poisoning our allergic kid.

It didn’t seem like a big deal to me. A substance I hardly ate was not around anymore. Oh well. Unless my toddler decided to start free-basing peanuts in his crib behind our back, our home was peanut-free. Life went on, largely unchanged. There was now more careful label reading, for sure. But other than that, life went on.

The first time I ate a peanut butter sandwich in spite of my toddler, I felt like I was committing an act of adultery. There I was, eating the attempted murderer of my son, enjoying every bite as if it was the greatest meal of my life. I giggled to myself, absolutely giddy over my secret snack that would turn my kid into a mess of hives. When I got home from work, I brushed my teeth three times and doubled down on the mouthwash. I couldn’t look my son in the eyes for fear he would know what I had done at work.

I swore it was a onetime thing.

A few days later, after a severe tantrum, all I could think was, “I can’t wait to go to work and eat a Reese’s peanut butter cup, you bastard”

So began my peanut butter tryst. I have become hooked on eating peanut butter anything at work. All the while, I think about the times during the day my son told me “no,” or I stepped on a Lego. Treat after peanut-y treat settles deliciously in my stomach.

I am a serial peanut eater. At work, I have stashes. You name it, I have it covered in peanut butter and not a single piece can be consumed by my son. As I scrub any trace of peanut from my mouth, I promise it is the last time. Then, my son does something like throw himself on the ground in the middle of the grocery store, and I think longingly of the peanut clusters waiting for me at work.

My son will never know that I eat peanut products behind his allergic back. As he sits there, throwing stuff and yelling “no!” I can’t help but think about the Snickers bar I will eat after he goes to bed.