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It's never pleasant when onions attack

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Lynne D. Schwabe Lynne D. Schwabe
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Lynne D. Schwabe was owner of Schwabe-May of Charleston, ran her own marketing consulting firm and is a nationally recognized motivational speaker. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Women's Wear Daily, and has appeared on CNBC's Power Lunch. She is now director of development for the National Youth Science Foundation. She can be reached at schwabestatejournal@gmail.com.

"I think this is going to make me burp."

We had purchased our dinner from the deli counter. After all, now that the children are grown, I have justification for not cooking, at least in my mind. So we went to a local "healthy foods" superstore to choose dinner. He got some herbed potato mixture, and I felt like protein, so I got some perfectly yummy looking chicken salad. Dating at an advanced age definitely lacks a certain romance.

We sat at the table. I actually lit some candles. But then he made that comment.

"Why do you think it will cause burping? The onion?"

"I'm not sure. But don't you think that this stuff was perhaps oversold by the lady behind the deli counter? She used the word ‘healthful' three times."

"I didn't notice. I was eyeing the vegan chocolate chip cookies. How do you suppose they hold cookie dough together without any eggs?"

"I bet you don't want to know. Remember that there are uses for black beans that are better left to the food industry."

"What do you think of the wine? I think it tastes a little vinegary, myself."

"Well, it's two days old. But lots of people say wine keeps for a week."

"I believe those people are talking about using it in salads."

We munch along companionably. However, we seem to slow down a bit toward the end. He leaves some of the herbed potatoes untouched. And I can't seem to finish all of the chicken. No dessert; I didn't fall for the vegan cookies.

We clean up the kitchen and get in the car to go run some errands. We occasionally spend a few entertaining hours in big box stores, looking at camping supplies, Barbie dolls, exfoliating ultrasonic facial brushes and drill bits. Really, the amount of merchandise available to those of us with a little cash flow is astounding.

But not this time! My date sits suddenly on a patio chair (on sale for $29.99 today only; quite a steal, actually). As he is clutching his midsection, I become concerned.

"My God. Are you having a HEART ATTACK?"

"Oh, no. It's just that my stomach is clenching. The onion."

"Are you sure? You fit the heart attack demographic perfectly. Or wait—is it your hernia?"

"I had hernia surgery, for Pete's sake. Hernias don't come back! Wait—can oniony food cause a hernia? Maybe I have another one?"

"I think it's your heart. Can you drive home, or should I take the keys?"

"You think I am having a HEART ATTACK, and yet you want to go HOME? Not the ER?"

"But you said it is the onion! I am totally confused. Are you having a heart attack OR NOT?" I started to panic. "Is your arm hurting? They say when you have a heart attack, your arm hurts. I think it tingles or something…"

He got up. "Testing, testing." He flexed both arms. "No, it's definitely the oniony stuff."

"Are you just being macho? They say that a lot of men shrug off symptoms and then end up having bypass surgery!"

He gave me the stink eye. "Since when have you EVER accused me of being macho?"

"Sorry. But if you are sure it isn't serious, then let's have some Tums. Or we can get one of those new, fizzy gas medications that are flavored like pina coladas."

So we shuffled off to the antacid aisle, bought about $40 dollars worth. We each munched a few. Then, walking like a 100-year-old man (clutching his midsection) and his much younger and dewy date, we went through the parking lot to the car.

On the way home, there was small talk of the indigestive kind. We compared notes on food poisoning versus MSG allergies. I remembered the time I discovered I was allergic to soy. In a public restroom. He swore he would never eat anything with onions again. I promised to use only chives from now on.

Home again. We sat down in front of the television, and he switched it on. I think it was Paula Deen, chopping those onions. Not sure. We both kind of blacked out.