Did you ever notice how often you hear about a spectacular new advance in medicine that promises to neutralize one of the big threats, like cancer or heart disease, except first they have to do clinical trials that may last for several decades. You’re thinking to yourself, “Why several decades, can’t you hurry up?!” Meanwhile, new plagues are popping up left and right and spreading like crabgrass. So then you think, why worry about cancer when some malignant mosquito will just bite you in your sleep and you’ll be the first victim of some exotic new disease that causes you to do the hokey-pokey non-stop until you die from exhaustion. This, by the way, is where totally wicked musical pieces called “tarantellas” came from – people believed that if you were bitten by a tarantula spider, you would involuntarily dance yourself to death probably doing something stupid like the Robot, rather than something cool like the Dougie. We saw the Dougie at a wedding reception and, realistically, if you could work in some snacks, it might be years before it took you out, although you might be arrested for lewd behavior in the meantime. Also, you’d have to keep doing it in front of the judge. Hello maximum sentence. And then you’d still be doing it in jail. Uh-oh. Inevitably, though, it dawns on you that no one gets out of this alive anyway.
So we’ve come to the conclusion that the best strategy is to dodge the obvious hazards – skydiving, chain smoking, Kenny Chesney concerts – and just keep a low profile about the more exotic ones. We’re not sure what exactly the Zika virus does to those of us who are unlikely to be fruitful and multiply, but it kinda sounds like a mild case of the flu. Meanwhile, you young people thinking about getting in a family way should probably cancel your tropical vaca and slap on the Deep Woods Off.
Maybe the best way to take our minds off the more horrifying aspects of everyday life, not to mention our inevitable doom, is to focus on the minor, amusing health hazards that seem to crop up from time to time. Take this fairly goofy one:
Foreign Accent Syndrome – Thirty-three year old Lisa Alamia, born and bred in Texas, went into jaw surgery sounding like an extra on “Hee-Haw” and came out sounding like an extra on “Downton Abbey.” This is a woman who had never been to Europe, nor even left the country except for a brief trip to Mexico. Friends and relatives were skeptical at first, but doctors in the field of neurology have reported over 100 similar cases. Usually they involve migraine sufferers or people who have sustained head trauma. In September 2013 the BBC reported on the case of migraine sufferer Sarah Colwill who woke up with a Chinese accent. Other cases have recounted the development of French and German accents.
Go ahead and laugh, but imagine the international turmoil that might arise if Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II should awake one day and attempt to reassure the British public in the wake of the contentious Brexit vote:
“We shall take this opportunity to counsel you, our loyal subjects, to ignore any criticism that may be leveled at you concerning the recent, highly publicized referendum. Rest assured that no matter how you voted, yea or nay, yinz ain’t no jagoffs.”
That’s right, there is no scientific reason why anyone, even a head of state, could not wake up with a Pittsburgh accent as easily as any other. Shakespeare could have gotten up one day and written “As Yinz Like It.” Thomas Jefferson could have awakened from a Philadelphia migraine and with a manuscript that began, “When in the course of human events ‘n ‘at . . .” Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers could as easily have sung, “Hows Come Fools Fall In Love.” Pretty soon Frenchmen might wake up shouting at British Brexit voters, “Vous Êtes Les Jagoffs!” Who knows where it might lead. It’s a slippy slope.
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