A Cool Savings Plan I’ve Discovered Is Lactose Intolerance (I Want to Die)

by Lauren Rodrigue

I’ve been afflicted by a tenacious tummy ache for almost a month now.

Rather than make a trip to the doctor and spend $30 to be told “it’s stress” (IT. ISN’T. STRESS.), I decided to take a cool, groovy, Scooby Doo approach and solve the mystery myself! Which basically meant I mainlined Tums to the point where my face and fingertips were covered in bismuth powder. I looked like a junkie, appropriately, because, after weeks of depriving myself of cocktails and my usual six full meals daily, I felt like one, too. Phase two of my treatment involved complaining to my mom and all my friends. Phase three, the most advanced phase, was monitoring how I felt after eating different things.

After days of observation, my expert (bachelor’s degree in journalism) diagnosis comes down to: a sudden, unexplained bout of lactose intolerance, which, in this hell of a world we live in today, is an actual thing that can happen! Randomly! To even the most accomplished cheese-and-ice cream devotees! Diagnosis was confirmed when my nurse (who is also me!!) looked back on my charts to discover that symptoms began mere hours after consuming an entire box of Velveeta and Shells (Shellveeta!) for dinner one Thursday evening weeks ago.

In the wake of my diagnosis (of myself!) I find myself stranded in a beige-y land of bland grains and grilled chicken and heavy, wallowy No thankses to ice cream offerings. The human body is a delicate system, and it can only digest so much processed cheese medium before it decides You’ve Had Enough. No more cheese? Guess I have an opening at the top of my FAVORITE THINGS TO CONSUME WITH RECKLESS ABANDON list. Any takers (gentlemen?)?

Good news is a cheese-and milk-free diet is not only great for the heart (medically, that is — emotionally, I no longer have a heart) it also is great for the wallet. I ran a few numbers (I am also my own accountant!) to find out how much I’d save in a dairy-less year, and let’s just say, it’s a lot of cheddar. (RIP cheddar.) (Fuck.)

1. Adding a slice of cheese onto burgers at restaurants
My guess is I order about 3 burgers per month at restaurants (should I be embarrassed or…?) and the price for a dairy indulgence this is a ridiculous $1-$2 per slice! Sans slice-addition, I’ll save about $54 bucks a year. Which I can add on to the money I’ll save from never ordering another burger again because A BURGER WITHOUT CHEESE IS A BURGER NOT WORTH MASTICATING.

2. Weekday afternoon fro-yo jaunts
This is a thing that happens to people who work 9–6, Monday through Friday, in dry, dismal offices pitched high in the sky within some Midtown skyscraper. People who face walls, not windows. People who feel their contact lenses fusing with their eyeballs as they stare, unblinking, at a blank Word document. Afternoon fro-yo saves lives, but costs a pretty penny — like 500 pretty pennies and up, to be exact (depending on how debased you become at the toppings bar). Eliminating my once-a-week-or-so trip to the fro-yo place will save me about $250 this year. Unfortunately, I’ll spend twice that on… ugh… kale chips, I guess?

3. Breakfast sammies
Dead to me. The simple elegance of an egg-and-cheese-on-an-everything-bagel has, since college, anchored any morning, whether shitty or just whatever, in a place of sheer, unadulterated (if temporary) joy-bliss. There is no joy-bliss greater than tucking into a breakfast sandwich and watching the orange cheese-sheet stretch from the sandwich to your teeth. You see, on my breakfast sandwiches, I opt out of a meat addition, and the egg is only a vehicle, and the bread, a foundation. All for the cheese. The cheese was the breakfast. The cheese was all.
Anyway, that’s fucking over for me. I’ll save like, seven billion dollars. But I’ll lose five times that much, in tears.

4. Cream in my coffee
One of the greatest treats about living in NYC is a thing I’ve come to call “candy coffee,” which is when you order coffee at a deli and the counter-person puts in the cream and sugar for you, and the result is a very sweet, very light-colored liquid that tastes like hot, melted Werthers candies. After a full year in New York, I’ve mapped out all places near home and work that cream-and-sugar your coffee for you, because why would I ever want to eat the bitter bullshit I put together myself when I can swill creamy unicorn blood all morning!

OVER FOR ME. I’ve bought a coffee at a deli every morning since the day I started my job a year ago… I will not even go there with that calculation because I think it will make my parents not love me anymore, but, you get the picture. Big moneys.

What’s a girl to do with all that extra money, but so much less happiness? Suppose I’ll turn my attention to, like, mustards. Or something.

Lauren Rodrigue does not even want to hear one word about soy cheese.

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