Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Surviving a weekend.

I am gluten-intolerant. At least my body is. I still remember what breads taste like, and more than occassionally crave what I know will make my life miserable.

This last weekend, TheBoy and I got to take some time away from the kidlets. His mom offered to watch them for the weekend, so we booked a room at a local hotel and left shortly after we got back from Disneyland. Why local? We’d debated going up to Hollywood near where he works, as he knew he’d have to work over the holiday weekend. But we’d only have one car (I left the van at home for my mother-in-law). So there were two factors at play. I know our city. I feel comfortable walking around, which I’d have to do when he was gone. Not only that, I know the restaurants here, and with the gluten-free diet, I knew I’d be able to get food.

We went out to dinner on Friday night, and I was bad. I ate food with gluten in it (though when I’d checked with the restaurant, they said they could accommodate me, I just was weak and really wanted their crabcake appetizer). The meal was lovely, as always, but I learned that yes… even after two months gluten-free, it still affects me. Definitely not making that mistake again.

The next morning, I was sore from walking around Disneyland and still bloaty feeling from having gluten the night before. As we walked up the road (and literally up, the road’s on a hill) towards the diner where I’d planned on having potatoes and eggs for breakfast, we spotted a little cafe that we kept forgetting about. They had menudo, I wasn’t feeling like I could make it the rest of the way, so we stopped in! I ordered an omelette with potatoes and marveled at ordering a meal. TheBoy marveled at how good the menudo was. We walked to his car, ran some errands. Since I was going to be alone that night, we wanted to get me some snack foods so that I could cobble something together in case room service couldn’t accommodate me.

Snack foods obtained (I brainlessly bought myself malt vinegar chips, which I threw out before I glutenized myself again), we went back to the room. And I started writing. TheBoy left, and I just cranked up my music and wore my headphones. Yes, I was alone in my room and wore headphones. But I found myself unable to turn off the Mythbusters marathon that was playing, so the headphones kept the show out of my brain.

I was writing, when I realized that there was a weird beat meshing in with my Pirates soundtrack. I pulled off the headphones and realized that the fire alarm was going off. So I put on my shoes, grabbed my purse, phone and laptop and headed out the door. No sooner than I got out the door, the alarm stopped. Which was good, I had to go to the bathroom. I figured I’d duck back in my room, go, then go downstairs to see what was up. Well, the alarm never came back on. But I heard the all too familiar sounds of someone freaking out in the hallway.

So I took my key and went out to investigate. For those who didn’t know, I worked at Disneyland from 1998 to 2002. Those 4 1/2 years were more than enough to shape the way I handle emergencies. In the hallway was a family- father, mother, daughter (9 ish) and son (7 ish). The daughter was hysterical. As with most hotels, there are doors that block access to the elevators if an alarm goes off. The girl thought they were trapped. I did what most normal people wouldn’t do. I butted into their conversation. I explained why the doors were closed, and showed them where the stairs where locations (yes, Disney people, I used the double finger point too!). I pointed out that if there were really a fire, the alarm would still be going on.

The girl calmed down. The parents thanked me (I was expecting the “who are you” look of death), and I made sure to throw in that I worked at theme park, so I’d seen it all. Then everyone seemed to smile. The doors to the elevators opened again, and it was all over. I went back to my room, and opted not to go down to the front desk and see if they knew what caused it- there were families there with kids. I figured someone must have pulled the alarm.

I went back to writing, and called room service for dinner. I’d had my eye on a couple of options- a salad and a burger. We’d even bought gluten-free buns at the store so that I could simply order the burger without a bun. Which I did! And this is where the hotel earned their thumbs up from me- the guy on the other end of the line immediately suggested that I replace the fries that come with the burger with fresh fruit when I mentioned I had a gluten allergy. I doubt they’d trained their employees on food allergies, but honestly, it’s rare to run into someone who knows what I’m up against. So it made my night. (The burger was great, btw. I wound up eating it without my gluten-free buns, which crumbled as soon as I held them)

The next morning, TheBoy stumbled in from a long shift at work. I knew it was unlikely he’d be up for breakfast when I was hungry, so I went downstairs to have the hotel’s buffet-style brunch. They had plenty of options that worked for me, and I didn’t get glutenized again.

For dinner I walked myself to the same cafe and managed to scrounge something that worked. I went back there with TheBoy for breakfast (I’m now the Mayor of it on Foursquare!) where I had potatoes and bacon.

It was a great weekend. I finished my outline, and started my first draft of my novel. But somewhat more importantly- I managed to survive without my kitchen! I know what happens when I eat gluten, and thanks to some quick thinking, I was able to find something to eat! I wasn’t afraid of dining at a place that I knew was 100% prepared to deal with my food issues. Talk about a great feeling. Though I do think I am going to start asking the smaller eateries I loved if they can accommodate me with something other than a crouton-less salad.

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  • Helen

    If you are still craving malt vinegar chips I just recently tried Pop Chips- Sea Salt and Vinegar flavor (found them at Target). They are definitely not the same as regular chips, but they satisfy the craving. They are gluten free and have less fat than regular chips. http://www.popchips.com/faq/

  • Anonymous

    I am putting this on my shopping list- because vinegar chips have always been my favorite and most potato chips use malt vinegar.  I’ve had pop chips- will definitely check them out!!