Allergy Festival beckons

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer April 26, 2012 01:30 pm
Some people are allergic to latex. Mold. Bee stings. Fido the dog and Sneaky the cat.

Other people are allergic to soy. Wheat. Shellfish. Nuts. Eggs. The sun even.

I am allergic to spring.

To celebrate, last weekend my wife, Wonder, and I went to the Allergy Festival.

You may know it better as the Blossom Festival in Hood River. It turned into a weekend-long sneezefest. Visits to a glass-blowing studio and a flight over the valley and closeup red-eyed gazes at Mount Hood and Mount Adams were among the highlights.

Usually, mini-vacations — also known as weekend trips — are a great time to catch up on sleep. Unfortunately, that was not the case at the Allergy Festival. It just happened the next door neighbor at the motel was apparently from Hard-of-Hearistan.

This insensitive clod put his partner on speaker phone at midnight and proceeded to have a loud 20-minute conversation. I wanted to shout, “Just open the window. The woman can probably hear you halfway around the world.”

In the morning, I got my revenge by turning up “Good Morning America” to full volume. Just kidding. “Good Morning America” is not on TV on Sunday mornings, and by that time I was too weak from lack of sleep and sneezing to use the remote control.

Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised to suffer from allergies. I come from a long line of allergy sufferers. My dad, the drill sergeant, never complained about anything with one exception — hay fever. He had it bad. He’d take shots, and always be hankering to drive to the mountains away from the fog of grass pollen in the valley.

Sure, severe allergies are no laughing matter. They can be life or death. Take two-time Pultizer Prize winning New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid, who died earlier this year of an allergic reaction to horses.

But for most of us, allergies are more a daily nuisance. Most of the time over-the-counter medications help — and make us only slightly less sleepy than Rip Van Winkle.

Lots of famous people have allergies. Comedian Steve Martin is allergic to shellfish. Actress Drew Barrymore is allergic to coffee and garlic. Singer Jessica Simpson is allergic to wheat, dairy products, hot peppers, chocolate, coffee, tomatoes, corn — everything, it seems, but the kitchen sink.

One theory so many people in advanced societies have allergies is lack of exposure to dirt. More dirt-intensive places like Hard-of-Hearistan have fewer allergies. Our pristine environments in America, especially in cities, may be doing us in.

Finding the source of allergies may take dozens of doctor trips. And even over-the-counter medicines don’t come cheap. I think I’ll skip all that. I think I’ll go play in the dirt.


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