From grade school through the first few years of high school, I began my day with a bowl of cereal, preferably Cinnamon Toast Crunch, a cup of coffee and a rerun of Sanford and Son or What’s Happening!! on BET. It was a great way to start my day until one day it wasn’t. All of a sudden, the morning lineup on BET flipped to boring Benson reruns and the dreadful reboot, What’s Happening Now!!, coffee started to make my stomach hurt, and I became lactose intolerant.

Eventually, I found something else to watch on TV and switched to drinking hot tea, which suited my stomach just fine, but I just couldn’t shake the lactose intolerance. This condition still afflicts me today and probably will for the rest of my life. If anything, my body’s reaction to dairy is worse now than it was at the beginning. It’s a real shame because, morally, I am quite tolerant of lactose. I’d welcome it into my mouth with nothing but love in my heart. My body, however, is under the belief that lactose is a 500-pound cluster bomb for my gut.

I’ve tried to change this for many years, but the brain and body just can’t agree on our relationship with dairy. What’s my body’s problem anyway? Things with milk in them are usually delicious. Milk chocolate, ice cream, various cheeses, pizza, cream soups and the aforementioned cereal are a few of my favorite things and they all cause my belly to fill with gas bubbles. These foods all taste great going down, so I’m not sure where the problem starts, but once it begins, I know there’s gonna be hell to pay.

Millions of people suffer from this affliction and know exactly what I mean, but for those of you who don’t carry this terrible burden, let me explain how horrible lactose intolerance can be. It starts with a light rumble in your stomach that steadily increases in intensity and frequency as that delicious triple cream brie that you couldn’t turn down works its way through your system. The rumbles soon grow to growls and come with cramps that twist your stomach into knots. The pressure builds up in your bowels and requires immediate attention before your horribly smelly farts turn into sharts. Hopefully, you get all that funky brown butt water out in one shot, but chances are you’ll be back soon.

Luckily, there is hope for our busted guts and it comes from science! The reason we are lactose intolerant is because our lousy bodies have stopped producing the enzyme, lactase. Lactase’s one job is to break down the lactose found in dairy products into digestible sugars and without it, you’re fucked. Some pharmaceutical company eventually got wise and started selling lactase pills to counteract the effects of lactose on us poor souls. It was revolutionary.

I am no shill for Big Lactase, but I would happily accept their money or a lifetime supply of lactase pills if they want to hook me up. I wholeheartedly endorse these products if dairy gives you the bubble guts. It is truly wondrous as long as you remember to take the pill with your first bite or drink of a dairy product. There are no short or long term side effects from taking lactase since it is an enzyme your body should be making anyway. The only real problem is that you have to keep a supply of lactase pills close by whenever you think you might eat or drink dairy. This is a pain in the ass.

Therein lies the rub. It’s nearly impossible to be prepared for every occasion. Sometimes you have to get emergency ice cream or a tea latte with real fucking milk for once. If you find yourself without a pill, you either have to throw out your treat or prepare yourself for a wild ride. Sometimes this can be a tough decision and it’s one that I don’t think we should have to make in this day and age. Fortunately, some of you readers out there can change that.

Restaurant owners: My lactose intolerant friends and I need your help! If you sell any food or drink products that contain dairy, make lactase pills available upon request. Hell, you could leave a bowl of pills on the counter if you want. I don’t need it to be fancy; I just need it to be there so I can enjoy your food. There is virtually no liability risk involved since lactase pills are harmless to all and helpful to many. It might even convince some of us to get that second scoop of ice cream and put a little more money in your pocket. Our guts and loved ones would thank you profusely if you could help us all out! #saveourguts

**This column first appeared in print on page 8 of issue #275 (Sept. 26 – Oct. 10, 2018)**