(This post was originally published on this site in May, 2007)
Old Wives’ Tales.
We’ve all heard them. We’ve all repeated them. We might even believe a few of them.
Like, “Don’t play with fire or you’ll wet the bed,” which always scared me a little bit.
Or, “Don’t cross your eyes or they’ll stay that way,” which I believed until I was in my 20s!
Or even, “If you swallow gum, it will stay in your system for seven years,” which I am embarrassed to admit I believed until I researched this article!
The funny thing about Old Wives’ Tales, though, is that most of the time intelligent, logical-minded people (myself included, despite the above revelations) know they are not true.
This is sooo not the case for Southern Italians. In fact, to hear them, you’d be amazed how we have managed to dodge death all these years and how the American race hasn’t yet become extinct.
Therefore, since I have been fortunate enough to be bestowed with this knowledge, I feel I absolutely must, in good faith, pass this information on to you. Consider yourself warned!
Did you know you are risking DEATH if you…
– Walk around with wet hair? Oh yes, my friends, death could come a knockin’ – so keep your head dry (and covered, if possible) at all times. Peppe’s dad warned me once against this, but stubborn ole me, didn’t listen. A few hours later I had a bad headache. Hmmm ….
– Stay outside in the cold without a coat? Apparently you can get pneumonia which will inevitably lead to a quick demise. This includes, not only a coat and close-toed shoes (until summer arrives) but long-sleeves when there is wind and socks after dark. Proceed with caution and avoid that draft whenever possible!
– Sit in front of the air-conditioning? Well, maybe you won’t DIE from this, but you could catch a horrific sore throat! Apparently the cold air, when blown directly towards your face, is toxic. Who knew? So, once again – dodge that draft!
– Use the air conditioning? Who knew Americans were such risk-takers? People throughout the country put their lives at risk every day simply by turning on the air. Italians are much smarter about this. If you are hot, you must stay hot, or your body will react badly and incite a sudden death! I kid you not. My gym is not air conditioned for this very reason, and I have to get plum pissy at home before they turn on the AC in the summer. This, by the way, applies to all central heating units and ceiling fans. Another case of draft dodging? I think so!
– Sit by an open window when the wind is blowing? For reasons similar to the two above examples – I wouldn’t do it!
– Drink ice cold water? Ice water alone won’t cause death but will likely lead to a brutal sore throat. However, after working out or being in the heat, you could die an early death from consuming this ice-poison. Here’s an example: I went for a 45 minute jog the other day and returned home to a locked house. So, I visited Zia M.
Zia M: “Can I get your something “fresh” to drink?”
Me: “Sure! How about some water?”
Zia M: “Oh, no, you can’t have water. Maybe some nice pear juice instead? “Fresh” water will make you sick.”
Me: Thinking … uhh, can I have some stale water, but instead said, “No, I don’t like pear juice. Really, I’ll just have water.”
Zia M brings out the warmer-than-room-temp water, thus causing me to worry about the millions of Americans who drink cold water every day at their local gym. I did, however, feel a pang of guilt for insisting Zia M provide water after a workout. (Inevitably, forcing her to double-up on her daily Hail Marys since she quite possibly provided the venom that would lead to my swift, albeit foreseeable, death.)
So, to make her feel better I added …
“I have a little headache today … it must be because the weather is changing!”
She agreed and I had once again passed the “I’m-cool-enough-to-be-married-to-your-Godson-even-though-I’m-not-Italian” test!
In addition to the above warnings, you should know that you can “protect” yourself from a sore throat by wearing a scarf tied tightly around your neck, hence covering your throat, and once again, dodging the draft.
You can also prevent an array of undesirable ailments such as diarrhea, infertility, hemorrhoids and pneumonia by wearing slippers in the house. (Infertility?!?)
All laughter aside though, some things really can be fatal! I told Peppe about this post and about some of the information I discovered about Italian wives’ tales.
Me: “You know, Peppe, you CAN go swimming after you eat. You won’t get cramps!”
Peppe: “What? No, Cherrrrrye!”
Me: “Peppe, I just read it.”
Peppe: “No, baby, no … you can DIE from this!”
Me: (trying to conceal a laugh) “What?”
Peppe: “You can screw up your digestion system and you can really DIE!”
Well, I’m glad to know that! Just in time for summer, too.
So, blog readers, take heed! Tell your mothers. Tell your sisters. Tell your friends. It is up to us to let America know the risks lurking at every air duct and water fountain. Are you up for the challenge?