Heads Up

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“What’d you find there… a penny?” Steve said seeing me stop in my tracks and bend over. I picked it up and showed it to him. “Find a penny, pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck,” I sang out. We both laughed.

“Only if it’s on heads,” he said.

“I know,” I said putting it back on the ground. “It’s on heads now.”

“I don’t think it works that way,” Steve said. I smiled and nodded following him into the diner.

“Are you gluten free,” I said when we sat down. He wasn’t. “My kid is,” I said using air quotes. He cocked his head and looked at me.

“You don’t think he is?” I shrugged.

“It doesn’t matter,” I said and then told him about this study I had just read about gluten and how most people who ‘claim’ to have an intolerance for gluten, really don’t.

“The thing is, even though most people don’t have an allergy toward gluten, they benefit from eating a gluten free diet.”

“I don’t get it,” Steve said. “So gluten is not good for you?” I shook my head but before I could finish the waitress came over with coffee. I ordered an egg white and broccoli omelet, no toast with a side of fruit. “You gotta watch that gluten,” Steve said smiling at me. He then ordered a large Belgian waffle, two eggs (sunny side up), a side of home fries and an English muffin. “Take that, gluten,” he said.

“Gluten is fine,” I said. “It’s not the gluten, or even the avoidance of gluten that gives people the benefits from not eating gluten; it is their belief that makes the difference.”

“Ahh,” he said nodding.

“Yes,” I said. “When you believe in something you act a certain way. The scientists who were conducting the study found that those who believed they were allergic to gluten paid closer attention to what they were eating, and therefore made better decisions. Which, in the end, led to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and the best part, they lost weight. All from the simple act of ‘believing’ they were allergic to gluten.” A glazed look had overtaken Steve’s face. I think I lost him.

“Hence the penny,” I said.

“Oh!” he said. “The penny. That’s what we were talking about.” We both laughed. The waitress came back with our food; a single plate for me and four plates for Steve. His waffle came fully dressed with strawberries and whipped cream.

“I love Belgian waffles,” I thought watching him tear into it. I ate a grape.

When we finished we had to walk up to the cash register to pay. “Let me have those,” I said stopping Steve from dropping the pennies into the tip jar.

He turned and looked at me. “You want my pennies,” he said and then he looked back at the girl behind the counter. She looked from him to me. Her eyes narrowed a bit over the idea of her not getting all of his loose change and my smile widened. “Give them to me,” I said. He did.

As we went outside, I took each penny and placed them randomly on the ground.

“Heads up?” Steve said.

“Of course,” I said and shot him with my index finger.

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