The old wives strike again
The speed of light allegedly limits the rate of transmission of information. When it comes to bad news in my family, I'm not certain the limit applies. Sometimes I get reports of tragedy before they even occur. It's a gift that my family has.
Mom was on the phone. She had news about my niece's cousin's husband.
“He's married to your sister-in-law's niece.”
“Okay, I guess I could parse that out, Mom, but Phyllis has a whole bunch of nieces on her side of the family and I don't know them, let alone the spouses of the married ones.”
“His name is Kyle and he came down with multiple sclerosis.”
“Well, damn, that's a tough situation for a young man, Mom, but the news really doesn't mean that much to me.”
Mom paused for a few seconds. Had I offended her by my lack of interest in the poor fellow's plight? When she broke her silence, it did not immediately clarify the matter:
“I know you're not going to want to hear this.”
Now it was my turn to be silent. Then the light hit me and I understood. I knew exactly where she was going:
“You're absolutely right, Mom. I don't want to hear it. You can just drop it.”
“Phyllis got Kyle to go to her doctor.”
She went there anyway.
“Mom, Phyllis's ‘doctor’ is not a doctor.”
Short of sticking my fingers in my ears and yelling “La-la-la-la,” there was nothing I could do. Mom insisted on telling her story.
“Pat is too a doctor. She's the one who figures out illnesses by looking in your eyes.”
“She's not a doctor, Mom. Iridology is not a medical technique. It's quackery. You cannot diagnosis illnesses by looking at the colored part of the eye. She's not a doctor.”
Mom was talking right over me. The woman is relentless.
“She looked at Kyle's eyes and told him he had to stop using artificial sweeteners.”
“Fine, Mom. No harm there. But that's just semi-pointless advice from a new-age practitioner.”
“But Kyle got all better! He stopped drinking sodas with artificial sweeteners and took the medicine Pat prescribed for him and he's all better!”
“Yeah, right. She cured Kyle's MS by getting him off aspartame. Mom, she's not a doctor. And she can't prescribe drugs. It's against the law.”
But now it was Mom, of course, who was going “La-la-la-la.”
“Well, she did. She told him to take mega-vitamins and gave him some herbs, too.”
“Vitamins and herbs are uncontrolled supplements, Mom. Anyone can recommend them. Anyone can take them. They're not prescription drugs. She can't prescribe drugs because she's not a doctor. Am I not making myself clear?”
“I knew you would say that, which is why I didn't want to tell you about it.”
(Who called whom, Mom?)
“Mom, was Kyle actually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis?”
“That's what everyone said he had. I don't know if he went to a doctor for a formal diagnosis.”
Mom makes “formal diagnosis” sound like a foolish and expensive indulgence.
“You don't know if he went to a real doctor or not? Then it looks like Phyllis's fake doctor gave Kyle fake drugs for a fake cure for his fake disease. And what do you know? It fake worked!”
“You know, Zee, there's just no talking to you when you get like this.”
“Well, Mom, here's some advice for next time: I am always like this! Take some ginkgo biloba so that you remember that your son is not interested in stories of credulous acceptance of quackery. The ginkgo doesn't actually do anything except perhaps induce a placebo effect in the gullible. In your case it should be pretty powerful.”
“Oh, honey, you are so close-minded!”
Half of my genes are from that crazy old lady. Oh, dear.