Anyone that has school-aged children knows that there is no greater risk to their immediate survival than the biohazard known as peanut dust. Judging by the degree of vigilance exercised by school officials, apparently 99 out of every 100 children these days have a “severe” peanut allergy, where even exposure to a molecule of peanut dust will cause death that is somehow both immediate and excruciating. (The other 1% possesses only a “heightened” peanut allergy.)
That’s right, peanuts don’t even need to be ingested to be highly lethal. Once the dust from a solitary shell is air-borne, it reaches a “weaponized” state and kills indiscriminately and in vast numbers.
Thankfully, at my kids’ school, they take every ridiculous precaution necessary to safeguard against peanuts entering the premises. For instance, kids are not allowed to bring in homemade treats on their birthdays, as it risks the cross contamination of a stray peanut molecule into a batch of cupcakes. At lunchtime, if a child brings a peanut butter sandwich to school, they are immediately quarantined at a specially designated table in the lunchroom. When finished with lunch, these children must sanitize their hands and rinse away any residue of the biological agent known as peanut dust before heading to the playground. All of this is 100% true.
At this point, some of you may be thinking that I am insensitive to those with “Peanut Lung” or other legume-specific genetic defects. (“Hasn’t the X-Men quintilogy taught us anything about acceptance!?!”)
On the contrary, my outrage stems from the peanut-related hypocrisy of school officials. Without a hint of irony, administrators will pause their expungement of George Washington Carver from the history books and burning the collective works of Charles M. Schulz only long enough to remind parents of the annual school fundraiser: Selling giant tubs of Otis Spunkmeyer peanut butter cookie dough throughout the community.
To help raise the funds for this elaborate peanut defense system and other school priorities, each child must sell five giant buckets of cookie dough. Since there is money at stake, the same children that cannot be exposed to a single peanut molecule at school are now schlepping buckets of this concentrated biological agent all over the neighborhood. Doing the rough math, if one dust molecule can incapacitate an elementary school, a whole bucket of dough could wipe out the entire human race several times over.
Every fall, I watch these kids dutifully show up to school with a pallet jack, load up their dough into their parent’s SUV, and hustle refined bioweapons all over town. And the administration is happy so long as the kids return to school the next day with fistfuls of cash, and not, say, a fresh homemade batch of Otis Spunkmeyer peanut butter cookies for their birthday celebration.
(As an aside, I have this fight twice a year with my wife: One of the kids’ birthday rolls around, and she brainwashedly buys licorice or Oreos or some other “safe” peanut-free treat for the class. I immediately start yelling that she should rip open one of the many, many Otis Spunkmeyer (“If that is his real name?!”) peanut butter cookie dough buckets clogging our freezer and make a huge batch for the class. I implore her to just walk in, and dare them to say these cookies are not permitted on school grounds. I would seriously love to take the day off work to confront the administration with this flawless exposition of their hypocrisy. Anyway, twice a year, I rant on this topic for 20 minutes or so, and concoct the perfect strategy to extract my comeuppance. My wife tunes me out completely, and shows up at the school the next day with Oreos. Standard.)
Of course, it could be worse. Peanuts aren’t the only thing prohibited at the school. And as evidenced above, if it meant a lucrative fundraising opportunity, school officials would happily send children door to door selling buckets of guns, pornography, alcohol, tobacco and other contraband.
Also published on Medium.