by Brian Hioe

The author visits a meerkat cafe in Taipei and is pictured, laughing, with a meerkat on his shoulder; the meerkat seems to be investigating the author's ear
Meerkats are OK (All images courtesy of the author)

Sometimes I wonder if my fatalistic attitude on life was shaped, to some degree, by the numerous deadly allergies I have. After all, it’d be rather easy for me to drop dead, simply by eating the wrong thing. 

Recently, I accidentally picked up some snacks off of the bar at my collective space and started eating them without thinking to look at the label. Somehow I ate half the bag before I noticed I felt allergic. One nauseous night later, I thought to myself, “So. That’s what peanut butter tastes like.” Now I know. And it nearly killed me to obtain that forbidden knowledge. 

In Hong Kong in 2019, back when I was reporting on the protests there, I popped into a 7-Eleven to get breakfast before the National Day protest march, anticipating that I would be running from tear gas and riot cops at some point in the next few hours. It was standard Hong Kong breakfast fare, I forget what exactly–just I turned out to be allergic to some ingredient. Right away I found myself choking, unable to breathe, and wracked with nausea and intestinal cramps, all at once. 

I struggled to keep pace that morning but luckily, it was just a bite, so the effects were limited. A few hours later, once we really did have to start running from the cops, the adrenaline kicked in and the allergies receded. That’s what Epipens are, actually—just shots of adrenaline. 

It’s a paywall, but a small one

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