Food Allergy 101: I choose where I sit. And I don't owe you an explanation.

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What if my food allergy was a real, live person? And what if I could talk to him about what he's taught me over the years? Every Thursday, I get that chance...

BLOG POST #124 — I’m at a busy restaurant when Mr. A., my allergy, arrives. When he sees me, he gives me a big grin. He always grins. It’s a fake grin, of course. The same type a bully gives just after tripping you in the hallway.

As he sits, my cell rings, and I take the call away from the table. When I return, he is sitting in my seat.

“What are you doing?” I ask. “I was sitting there.”

“I didn’t think you’d mind,” he says, pushing my stuff to the other side of the table. “Besides, I prefer having my back to the wall.”

I stare at him. “Get up,” I say.

He looks shocked. “What’s the big deal?” he says, getting up and moving to the other side. “What’s it matter where you sit?”

He knows why it matters, and he knows I wouldn’t fall for it. When you have a food allergy, you learn that where you sit at the table at a busy restaurant can alleviate a lot of stress, especially if you’re worried about servers leaning over you with food or people bumping into you. 

“You know I like to be able to see the servers approaching,” I say.

"That's a dumb reason," he says. "That doesn't even make sense. A server is not going to drop their tray on you."

“It’s just something that works of me. And if it works for me, it makes sense to me. And I certainly don’t have to explain my reasons to you.”

He looks away.

“Well…” he says, searching for his words like an angry child. “I like sitting at this spot better anyway.”

“Good," I say with a smile. "Then I guess we are both happy.”


JJ Vulopas is a rising senior at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. An advocate for young people, JJ has lived with food allergies his entire life. He is the author of the children's book, Land of Not. You can read his daily blog at Follow him on Instagram & Twitter @thelandofcan.