In my childhood I was a hypochondriac, a psychosomatic wreck. I always had some complaint or other, and my family called me "the boy who cried wolf."
One Sunday afternoon, when I was about ten, I began to feel chest pains. "Call a doctor," I screamed, "I'm having a heart attack." But my mother told me to calm down, that it would go away. It didn't go away, and within an hour my hands, feet and face had blown up to twice their size. My face was flushed and I had broken out in hives all over my body. I was a grotesque apparition. So the doctor was called after all. When he came he gave me injection and explained that I was having an extreme allergic reaction. Had I eaten anything new that day? We thought about it and remembered that at breakfast I had tried sable (smoked black cod) for the first time. It must have been the sable. At any rate, the injection worked and I was back to normal later that evening. My mother rewarded me by telling me I could stay home from school the next day.
One Sunday, a year or two later, I was feeling especially anxious and apprehensive about returning to school after the weekend. I always hated school, but this particular time there must have been something especially frightening, perhaps an oral presentation, or a dance festival. So that afternoon, while I was home alone, I went out to the local “appetizing” store, the Bagel N' Lox, and spent my allowance on a quarter pound of sable and an onion bagel. I rushed home and made a sandwich. I stared at it for several minutes. My heart started beating faster in anticipation. I picked it up several times only to put it back down. Finally, closing my eyes, I picked the sandwich up again and ate it quickly, in several big bites. All day I sat around nervously, waiting for something to happen. Nothing happened.
I went to school the next day. I don't remember what transpired, but whatever it was I seem to have survived it, and now sable is one of my favorite foods.