If I had, I was unaware of it. “My mother didn’t cook with them,” I said.
“What do you think?” She held a ladle of spaghetti sauce with mushrooms to my lips.
“They’re great,” I admitted.
In the years that followed I gorged on mushrooms: mushroom omelets, salads laced with sliced mushrooms, mushrooms stuffed with pork sausage, and steaks smothered with mushrooms sautéed in butter and wine. Sue was never as fond of mushrooms as I was and ate them in moderation, but it seemed that I couldn’t get enough.
A few years after my introduction to mushrooms, I broke out in a rash that looked like I had dozens of hickeys all over my body. I was horrified, although my reputation at work soared. When my hands and fingers became too red and swollen for me to wear my wedding band, Sue decided it was time for me to see a doctor. I grabbed the phone book and started making calls, but all the doctors I contacted had full appointment books, except for one.
His office was located in an old Art Deco building in San Francisco, in a part of town that had seen better days. I took the elevator up to the eighth floor and stepped out into the most peculiar doctor’s office I’d ever seen. The lighting was uncharacteristically dim, but I could see that the place needed a good dusting and vacuuming. The walls were spotted with bizarre black and white photographs of performers dressed in outlandish costumes, and opera music rattled the walls. The chair behind the receptionist’s desk was empty.
This hardly seemed like an appropriate place to seek relief from my rash. Just as I was about to hightail it back to the elevator a door slammed open and the fattest man I’d ever seen—Jabba the Hut in a white coat—entered the room.
He examined me from the far side of the empty waiting area. He clucked his tongue, shook his massive head and spoke with an indecipherable accent.“Stop eeting zee mushrooms! You eating too manies oof dem. I gots mee threee daughters, all oover threee huundred pounds. Youz married?”
I could have politely answered the man’s question, but instead I bolted for the door and dashed down the stairs, not waiting for the elevator.
That evening I reluctantly pushed aside a plate of Sue’s creamy mushroom risotto. I told her what the doctor said (not the part about his three daughters) and I cut back on mushrooms. The hickeys soon vanished.
In retrospect, I should have paid Dr. Jabba for his accurate diagnosis, but at the time I was worried I’d end up hanging on his wall encased in carbonite. Or worse, pawned off on one of his daughters.
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