Reluctant Townie: Trends to leave behind in 2014
Well, friends, the year is halfway over. Has it been a glass half-full or half-empty? Your call.
Here are some trends I am hoping will run their course by 2015.
It is estimated that only 1 percent of the American population legitimately suffers from celiac disease — the legitimate inability to process gluten. If these people ingest even a minuscule amount of gluten, their body goes psychotic and attacks the lining of the small intestines like Goro in "Mortal Kombat."
If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to malnourishment. Malnourishment can lead to death, or, at the very least, gaunt cheekbones and a modeling contract with Victoria's Secret.
Similarly, if left untreated, eating McDonald's with a 2 liter of Coke for every meal can lead to malnourishment. Which is to say, malnourishment is not proof of gluten intolerance — nor is an upset tummy with a bad case of the poots and toots.
I have met more people with gluten allergies in 2014 than all of the other years of my life combined. This cannot be a coincidence. I suspect it to be the work of that elusive rapscallion Marketing!
Sales of products containing a "gluten-free" label have increased by more than 100 percent since 2010 and are expected to generate an estimated $23.3 billion in revenue this year. (This is a legitimate statistic compiled by the Wall Street Journal that I looked up on the Internet.)
Whenever I witness someone who claims to have a gluten allergy cross-examining a waiter or waitress over the individual ingredients of every dish on the menu at a restaurant, I want to finger-football punt a breadcrumb into their mouth and wait for visual confirmation of an allergic reaction.
How can you tell the difference between someone with celiac disease and someone who has a "gluten intolerance?" People with celiac disease don't have to ask what items on the menu are gluten-free — they already know. They already know because knowing is tantamount to their survival.
People with celiac disease have spoken to a licensed medical professional about their condition. Not DVR'ed a Doctor Oz special.
A 2013 study conducted by a professor of gastroenterology at Monash University in Australia (but don't hold that against him!) all but proved that non-celiac gluten intolerance was complete balderdash (insert Australian variation of "balderdash"here), after researchers repeatedly fed gluten to a controlled group of test subjects who claimed to have a gluten intolerance and observed no difference from those who received a non-gluten placebo.
If you have celiac disease, I apologize. I have nothing against you. Like those with lactose intolerance, you have my utmost sympathy. I love rocking a bowl of Cheerios in the morning — I cannot imagine your loss.
But I'm done accommodating the rest of this bandwagon. You have a gluten intolerance? Here's a Wheat Thin. Prove it. Otherwise, sit down and shut up — if you don't want any gluten in your diet, pick the bread off of your own freakin' sandwich.
It's not going to kill you.
The return of 1990s clothing fashions
Whoever convinced all these nice, young women that Hammer pants were back in style should be ashamed of themselves.
Walking down the street last week, I witnessed a spitting image of Kid from Kid 'n Play riding a mountain bike in a bright, paisley button-up. I saw a young mother pushing a stroller in a pair of overall culottes with one shoulder strap unfastened.
Then a kid rollerbladed past me in a No Fear T-shirt and bucket hat, jamming to the Crash Test Dummies on a Discman.
It was as if I had walked out of reality and into a bad Jonathan Taylor Thomas movie (as if there were any other kind).
This is madness. I know that fashion is a schizophrenic mix-tape of ideas pulled from all different eras of history, but we should agree as a human race to leave the '90s alone. They have nothing to offer anyone.
Trust me, kids, I grew up in the '90s — even then, as a grade schooler, I was conscious of the fact that everybody dressed like they were pieces of furniture at a Chuck E Cheese.
There is no inspiration to be taken from the '90s, only harsh lessons to be learned.
At the end of the day, I think everyone should be free to believe whatever they want to believe. You think the Earth is balanced on the back of a giant space turtle? Great.
You think that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago? OK.
You think women should not be allowed to read, write, vote or own land? Well, ermmm ...
Being religious is fine in my book, so far as its influence begins and ends with you. The moment your beliefs inspire you to dictate the lives and/or living conditions of those around you (people who may or may not share your religious views), your religion stops being an innocuous belief system and becomes an instrument of oppression.
You shouldn't have to convince people that your religion is the only right and true religion in the world. It makes your religion look desperate. If your religion was really all that and a bag of chips, you wouldn't NEED to strong-arm people into following its teachings (ahem, looking at you, Boko Haram!)
Ryan Jackson can't think of anything clever to write here, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.