Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Chocolate and Peanut Butter Treat

As of 11:15 AM Chicago time, Barack Obama is now the 44th --and first African American-- President of the United States. His inaugurational address this morning was blunt yet stirring, directly addressing the various crises that affect the United States but acknowleding that we still have our pride and patriotism and that we're not down for the count just yet. Basically, he endorsed "a new era of responsibility" where integrity and hard work will be demanded to get America back on its feet. Obama's address was vague in places and carried the same rose-colored tint that his most stirring orations often carry, but it was still one of the most memorable introductory speeches in recent memory.

Regardless of your political beliefs, today's swearing-in speaks volumes about how race relations have progressed in our country in the last half-century. Sadly, this won't immediately end racism and bigotry in America and reminders of that unfortunate past still linger. That message has spilled out into tonight's television programming; where the major networks are covering the inaugural balls, Turner Classic Movies is showing Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, the MLB Network is airing the episode of Ken Burns' "Baseball" that spotlights the advent of the Negro Leagues, and TV Land has "Cosby Show" repeats. Are you seeing a pattern?

So where was I during today's events? At work, mostly. I watched some of the inauguration coverage on NBC and Fox News before I left for work -I only had FNC on out of curiousity- and listened to President Obama and Vice President Biden being sworn in on the car radio as I drove north on I-355. In only heard the first minute or so of Obama's speech live before I stopped for lunch, than read the transcript during my break at the office.

I'll admit that I smiled when I heard Obama being sworn in; I thought Chief Justice Roberts' fumbling was an issue with the satellite feed, but when I learned that he slipped the oath of office I found it oddly charming. All of the precise maneuvering and machinations that led into Obama taking office and Roberts nearly dropped the ball when the big moment came- how fitting was that? They even found a way to make it seem self-depreciating. Most of my colleagues took this with a grain of salt; two of our sales guys spent all morning ranting and raving about how this is the beginning of America's transition into a Socialist state, and in spite of our office's conservative leanings most of their complaining fell on deaf ears.

Meanwhile... I can't say I've been terribly affected by the FDA's recall of peanut butter, because I haven't had a taste of the stuff in years, which I attribute to being allergic to peanut oil. There's a part of me that wants to gloat about the sudden shortage of Jif and Peter Pan on supermarket shelves, but I also empathize for those that miss their favorite pigout food. I was diagnosed with my allergy when I was five years old, when such an affliction was still fairly uncommon; I was trying PB on a celery stalk in preschool and passed out shortly after swallowing it.

Nearly twenty years later I feel like a reluctant pioneer, as I'm still the oldest person I know that can't touch the chunky stuff. I've never eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and about half of the candy bars on the market are verboten unless I risk the swelling of my lips, fatigue, and nausea. If the peanut oil is cooked in, like a chicken nugget from Chick-Fil-A, I can consume that in small doses as long as I have a tall glass of water handy. I only take consolation in the fact that there are millions of children in this country with the same affliction. In short, I am well accoustomed to a world without peanut butter, and during this salmonella-induced embargo (fleeting as it may be) I hope you get a better feel of this inadvertant legume-free lifestyle.

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