Saturday, August 23, 2008

Scare Tactics

I remember when I was a kid -we used to tease my brothers about having a "tape worm".
They were thin and scrawny at one point- (very "Alfalfa" looking)-
and of course the only excuse Linda and I could think up to taunt them
was to diagnose them with the dreaded tape worm.

It must have been a common disease back then.
Even Mom got in on the medical analysis.
We'd watch TV and see a real skinny guy-
"Probably got tape worm," Mom would say.
Or when one of us kids starting feeling badly
and wouldn't eat much -
Well, "probably got tape worm".

It never occurred to us what might cause this tape worm madness
or how it could be prevented
or why on earth didn't Mom take us to the doctor
to have us "wormed".

I think we just kept watching for some little white ribbon
of non-poop consistency to appear in the toilet.

It never did.

As Linda and I got older, we actually hoped
to catch the perilous parasite ourselves-
causing us to suddenly grow slimmer
and thus,
more attractive.

What Mom never told us-
and what she obviously never knew herself-
was the real identity of these worms.

Tapeworms can grow 15 to 30 feet in length
and attach themselves to the wall of the intestine.
Egg bearing sections are passed in the stool.

People acquire the tape worm by eating raw
or uncooked meats or freshwater fish.
The worms produce larvae which attach
to your muscle or other tissue and form cysts.
These cysts hatch and form new adult worms
and then those worms start hatching eggs.

I just read where a Chicago man has
sued a restaurant for serving him undercooked fish
from which he became violently ill
and passed a nine foot tapeworm!
Personally, I have problems
passing corn kernels,
so I hope this guy gets
a million dollar settlement!

But what I want to say right now to my brothers
that I am soooo sorry.
You guys both irritated me,
but I would never, ever wish tape worm on you.
And if you guys had really known
what we were accusing you of having,
you would have freaked out and
ran screaming bloody murder!

But, shamelessly I have continued
the infamous tradition
of the tapeworm story.

I told my husband what I had learned-
all the gory medical ramifications
of tape worm-
with no details spared whatsoever.

Now when he sees
a Victoria's Secret model on TV
and begins to drool,
I just say nonchalantly -

"Probably got tape worm."