It’s long, but stick with it. It gets worse and worse, I promise.
Thanks, Perry. At least the tune doesn’t stick with me like that Worst Music Video EVER.
It’s December 1! Let’s do decorations instead of video this year, Kipper…and I’ll just start this off with a whimper instead of a bang.
I recommend you enjoy just one of these at a time, sort of like the treats in an advent calendar. More than a few is just too much to digest.
(Lyta, you have a special expertise here, and I expect you to be an active participant.)
I don’t know why, but toe-sucking has touched my life peripherally in a 20-year cycle, starting when I was around 10.
Beth will remember the first incidence. At the time, the whole idea of “toe sucking” had never even occured to me; I was introduced to the concept by my sister, who is 4 years younger than we are. Here’s what happened: one night, back in the days when we still lived across the street from one another, Beth was spending the night at my house. We were in bed, and my mom was in the bathroom doing her nightly ablutions, while my sister, who was notorious for refusing to go to bed at a reasonable hour, was hectoring her from her room. It went something like this: “Momma….momma…momma…momma…” “Kate, go to sleep!” “Momma…momma…momma…momma…” (sounds of teeth brushing) “momma…momma…momma…momma…momma…….YOU SUCK!!!!” (sounds of bare feet slapping wood floors as mom strode quickly from bathroom to Kate’s room…sounds of hand slapping flesh…shrieking…) “YOU SUCK YOUR TOES!!! I MEANT YOU SUCK YOUR TOES!!!” (sounds of me & Beth trying to control laughter so it won’t be heard).
Anyway, that was my introduction to the whole concept of “toe-sucking.” It wasn’t until some 15 or 20 years later that I learned that it could also be a sexual fetish, and again, I didn’t ask to know this; it was foist upon me. By this time, I was living in Little Rock and the town was abuzz with tales of the Conway Toe-Sucker, an unfortunate young man with an uncontrollable passion for feet. He struck at Baptist Hospital at the time a friend of mine was in for surgery; she and her roommate almost burst their stitches laughing at their jokes about how he was going to jump out and get them while they did their doctor-ordered hallway walks. Some months later, I met the actual Baptist Hospital toe-suck victim quite by accident, when she joined a group of my friends for dinner at a restaurant. By this time, the Toe Sucker had been convicted and this woman had testified at his trial.
I, of course, was full of questions. I asked her how it had come about that this guy was actually able to, you know, get her toes in his mouth. At this, her husband said in a shocked tone, “he had your TOES in his MOUTH?” in the same tone of voice you expect to hear someone say ”you SLEPT with him?” Meanwhile, I’m thinking, dude, you’re MARRIED to her, shouldn’t you KNOW about this already?
Anyway, she said that what had happened was that she was in her office when a nice-looking guy had come in and started talking to her; he sat down and then started complimenting her shoes, saying that he used to be a shoe salesman (this was in Al Bundy’s heyday, so…I’m not sure why she didn’t find this ridiculous), and asking if he could take a closer look at them. He put one of her feet in his lap, took off the shoe and…started sucking her toes. When she reacted with alarm, he jumped up and ran out of the office.
After hearing her story, I said, “ok, I understand that it’s kind of icky to have some stranger’s mouth on your foot but…that seems relatively harmless, so why the deal with the trial and sentencing?” She said that he had approached a woman at the Little Rock airport and told her he wanted to cut her feet off and take them home with him. So the court thing had, it turned out, been completely necessary. She went on then about how she just couldn’t understand why this guy was doing this; she said he was good-looking and had a beautiful wife and a couple of kids so it just didn’t make sense that he was running around trying to suck all these women’s toes. I waited a beat, then said, “maybe he just needed to get some STRANGE TOE.” Which, of course, brought down the table.
A couple of years later, I learned that another friend of a friend had been approached by the Toe Sucker; in this case, he struck when she was at a convenience store getting back into her car. He came up and started complimenting her shoes and was crouched by the side of her open car door as she was sitting in the car, and had just gotten around to fondling her feet when she said, “what in the hell are you doing?” This scared him off. Valerie had a much better sense of humor about the whole thing; according to her, it was her own fault for “enticing” him, since as she noted she was wearing open-toed shoes and had just polished her toenails.
That was the last I ever heard of the Toe Sucker until…today. The story has even made the Reuters network - I cannot tell you how PROUD I am, once again, to live here. This is almost as good as the time the WWF announced they would not return to Little Rock because of the fans’ lack of manners and respect. HOW REDNECK does your town have to be for the WWF to refuse to come there? Anyway, I’m pretty sure the current toe-sucking suspect has to be the same guy because…what are the odds?
The other reason I love all things Conway Toe-Sucker related is that it always reminds me of the Baltimore Foot-Stomper from Polyester:
Truth is indeed sometimes stranger than fiction.
We all know that bees make honey, but the question is, how? My mom and I were having a discussion about honey being pasteurized vs. non-pasteurized, and I mentioned that uncorrupted honey had been found in Egyptian tombs, perfectly preserved over thousands of years. But, I said, the bigger question is how do bees make honey? Because, I noted, it can only be one of three things: bee spit, bee puke, or bee poop, since the bees don’t fly around with crockery or other containers to collect all that nectar.
Turns out that it’s both bee puke AND bee spit. The collector bees store nectar in a separate stomach (bees have two) and upon returning to the hive, other worker bees suck the nectar out of the collector bee’s stomachs (puke) and then “chew” it for a half hour (spit). The “chewing” adds enzymes that break down the complex sugars in the nectar into simple sugars more easily digested by bees, and also help keep the honey from becoming contaminated with bacteria. The bees then spread the processed nectar in the honeycomb to allow water to evaporate, a process they speed up by fanning it with their wings.
Hey, at least we haven’t been eating POOP for all these years.
Glad tidings from Henrietta and Merna.
Their beauty is all in their self-restraint. See if you can make it to the end, where there are some faincy moves.
This one is worth double posting …
I’ve just completed reading Jessica Snyder Sachs’ fascinating Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World, a rather eye-opening look at both the futility and danger of our modern war on germs.
I’m not a germophobe per se; in fact I’m personally somewhat filthy compared to many people I know. I did get really freaked over the swine flu that was making the rounds last year, but that was the result of both having read in-depth accounts of the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 and my admittedly limited knowledge of biology, which is still broad enough that I recognized that any type of flu virus novel to humans could become a Very Bad Thing if it managed to get into even one human body at the same time another flu virus was residing there and the two started swapping genes. Even a relatively mild virus can become a killer when given the right human petri dish in which to mutate.
The same, of course, is true of bacteria. They are living organisms and like all life, they evolve and adapt to their environment. In the case of the human body, they’ve adapted so well that we each carry around an estimated 9 times as many bacteria in and on our persons as we have living cells in our bodies. We are, literally, biomes for bacteria. This carries both blessings and curses; blessings in that the bacteria in our intestinal tracts literally feed us – without their activity, we could not break down food into its constituent nutrients for absorption. The curses are of course well-known and recognized – the wrong bacteria can kill us, either directly through damage to body systems, somewhat directly with their toxic byproducts, or indirectly by over-exciting our immune systems which end up destroying our own bodies. Given their ubiquity and ability to reproduce – and mutate - a million times faster than we can, probably any attempt to outflank the bad bacterial actors via development of antibiotics is predestined for failure.
That’s the bad news – and it gets worse: every time we use an antibiotic to fight off a bad bug, we also kill the good bugs, opening up new niches for colonization by bacteria that may be less helpful than the original inhabitants. We’ve made the problem worse with use of “antibacterial” cleansers such as products containing Triclosan which function more as an antibiotic than a true sanitizer. Bacteria have proved just as adept at mutating to be resistant to these cleansers as they have antibiotics. Worse yet, use of these products is making bacteria more resistant to the antibiotics we count on to fight off infection when a bad bug gets into the human body.
This is not to suggest that we’re worse off for modern sanitation – keeping cholera and E. coli out of the drinking water supply has had nothing but beneficial results. But we have become perhaps wimpier due to our isolation from the wide variety of bugs, both good and bad, to which humans for most of our evolutionary history were exposed on a regular basis. Most of us intuit this on one level or another, regardless of how obsessed we are with cleanliness – we know that animals both wild and domestic are exposed to more bacteria than we are. We don’t think twice about feeding food we’re not sure is still fit for human consumption to a dog or a cat – or at least we don’t if we’re sensible. Dogs eat crap – both their own and other animals’. Cats kill and eat rodents, ingesting along with them all the germs they carry. Most of us recognize that a burger or chicken that’s been in the fridge for a day or two beyond when we would eat it won’t faze an animal – they have “tougher guts” thanks to their closer daily contact with the microorganisms that abound in soil and elsewhere.
The current hypothesis is that rates of auto-immune disorders such as allergies and asthma have skyrocketed in the past century for exactly this reason – we have sanitized the good bacteria which have beneficial effect on our immune systems out of our environment. Perhaps not coincidentally, rates for these types of disorders are lowest among farmers and others in rural areas, and almost unknown in many rural Third-World nations.
The new horizon in the war on bad germs seems to be identifying the good ones and encouraging them to take up residence. As Sachs details, various researchers are working with a wide variety of bacteria to advance treatment for everything from gingivitis to Crohn’s disease to rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and a host of other human ailments. In some cases they’re working to make the good bugs more effective colonizers; in others, they are genetically engineering bacteria to operate the on-off switch that causes auto-immune disorders.
Many obstacles remain, of course. Physicians still over-prescibe antibiotics, often for conditions where their use accomplishes nothing more than wiping out our beneficial microflora. Livestock are fed tons of antibiotics on feedlots which has led to soil bacteria that literally eat antibiotics for breakfast – not to mention outbreaks of deadly E. coli infection. And far too many of us seem to believe that we can sanitize ourselves to health, in the process accomplishing little more than aiding bacteria in gaining resistance to our only current line of defense against them while at the same time killing the good bugs and opening up niches for the bad ones in our homes and on our bodies.
So while it may be “filthy” for me to pet the cat and then eat without first washing my hands, or give her a kiss on the head after seeing her rolling in the dirt in the backyard, it hasn’t killed me yet. I’ll continue on with my nasty ways, eschewing the antibacterial soaps and cleaning supplies as well. As I like to joke, I’m the least medicated person in America, having taken only one course of antibiotics in over 20 years now, that being a relatively wimpy few doses of amoxicillan when the dentist suspected an infection that might require a root canal (fortunately, he was wrong – just an inflamed nerve from an ill-fitted crown). I’ll continue to spray down the raw produce with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide – with all the E. coli out there, you’d be foolish not to – as well as the countertops, because no bacteria adapted to causing illness in the human body will ever develop resistance to oxidation or over-acidity. But as for running to the doctor every time I have a sniffle, or nuking the house with Triclosan? No way. I want to keep my friendly bacteria alive and thriving.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve discovered something: I really suck as a blogger.
As a blog commenter, I kind of rock, at least sometimes. But I’m starting to realize I do a lot better when I’m reacting to something than I do when I have to choose the topic myself. Which is really just longhand for “I’m too fricken’ lazy to really apply myself to crafting a carefully-researched, deeply-examined thesis - or to take the time to develop a really successful comedic piece.” I suppose at some point I need to get into the habit of actually making drafts rather than just whipping through a one-off.
But I ain’t there yet. So for now, another sampling of my last few weeks with Teh Great Gazoogle:
Precious Moments – I like to call them Racist Moments, because apparently little black and Hispanic and Asian children don’t have any “precious moments.” Remind me to tell you sometime about the opportunities there are for anthropological observation when you work in a Hallmark store.
Jamie Oliver’s food revolution – he comes off as a bit of a wanker, albeit one who’s trying to get people to understand a good point.
Stuff I’ve felt compelled to search out via google over the past few weeks:
Taste of gravel – I can’t be the only one who ever put a piece of it in my mouth when I was a kid, though the google seems to suggest so. And yes, it has a very distinctive taste.
Rush Limbaugh’s Manhattan apartment – Clearly not the domicile of a manly man.
Teabagging – I was unable to find the really funny image I was looking for which came from some type of wizards & warlocks type video game, and thereby died what would have been the FUNNIEST POST EVER WRITTEN ON THE INTERNETS. But there are plenty of other examples out there, just could not find the one I remember as reducing me to tears.
Lust for Life lyrics – Long live Iggy Pop.
Nutria – Just be glad I didn’t include Calvin Trillin’s recipe sampler.
Muskrat – Part of an ongoing fetish for animal identification, which extends to trying to help friends without internet access ID animals I didn’t see myself.
Penis mightier than the sword – According to google, no such thing exists.
Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends – If you never saw it, worth checking out.
The Kraken – S,N! commenter Release the Kraken! must assume full responsibility. Funny, though, that I had made a mental association between The Kraken and Cthulhu before looking up what The Kraken was – turns out to be pretty close.