While my wife and I were watching a football game on television the other day, Bethany made an interesting observation. “There have been ads for fried chicken during every commercial break!” That tidbit may not be of any interest to you, but to a person such as my bride who suffers from an allergy to poultry, being bombarded by a non-stop barrage of ads featuring mouth-watering images of delicious chicken sandwiches can be quite irksome.
Despite knowing all about Bethany’s allergy issues, it had not occurred to me that those commercials might have been bothering her until she spoke up. “I feel your pain,” I replied. “You may not have noticed, but there have been ads for beer during every one of those commercial breaks, too.” I had been suffering in silence throughout the broadcast.
“You’re right! Bethany exclaimed. “It’s all chicken and booze on this channel!”
I will admit that I have not always been as sympathetic to Bethany’s food allergy plight as a supportive husband should be. In fact, rather than being supportive, I have often made fun of her almost comically-long list of prohibited ingredients, not appreciating how difficult it must be for her to have to abstain from many of her favorite foods for the rest of her life.
And while she has been very supportive of my decision to quit drinking, Bethany could not fully appreciate just how hard it is for me to see alcohol everywhere I look and not be able to drink any of it.
But last Thursday night, while KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller Lite were busy spending millions of dollars trying tempt us, Bethany and I had an epiphany. We realized that as long as we have each other, neither of us will ever have to fight our battles alone.
Being the only person at a restaurant who can’t eat anything made with chicken, pork, wheat, oats, barley, or rye must be incredibly frustrating. It probably feels a lot like being the only person who can’t drink wine or beer at Octoberfest. Having each other to lean on, I’m proud to say that Bethany and I managed to resist all of Hermann, Missouri’s allergic and alcoholic temptations during our most recent visit. But it wasn’t easy.
I survived another important sobriety test last Saturday: Mizzou Homecoming. Although it was my first dry Homecoming game in sixteen years, it was the fourth Tigers game/tailgate party I’ve attended this season alcohol-free. Ever since my freshman year at the University of Missouri way back in 1990—with the notable exception of a two-year flirtation with sobriety in the early 2000s—watching the games and cheering on the Tigers always took a back seat to tailgating and getting loaded. (Let’s be honest: for a lot of those years, the Tigers were a lot easier to watch with a good buzz going.)
It has been a pretty big adjustment tailgating sober and going on winery tours as the designated driver. But having Bethany by my side has made it more than tolerable. Dare I say I’ve actually been having a good time—most of the time. There are days that aren’t so good, too, but no matter what kind of day I’m having, I know that my wife (and her fifteen thousand allergies) will always be right there with me.
It also helps that I’ve got three pretty incredible kids that make me want to be the best dad I can be. They need a father who is present, attentive, loving, and dedicated to being a positive role model. They deserve a dad they can be proud of. I hope that when they are grown, they will look back and think of me that way.
Until then, their mother and I have a war to wage against chicken and booze. And as long as we’re together, I know we can’t lose.