Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Stream of consciousness

(Note: I know that when I began this blog, I promised it would not be a “rant” journal. Please forgive me when I occasionally stray into that realm. Today’s post might fall into that category.)

So, I finally plowed through a giant history of Lewis and Clark (the long book I mentioned a few posts back) and it was quite informative. I learned, for example, that some Native American tribes did not treat their elders with respect; some of them actually left the oldsters behind with a day’s rations and well wishes for their trip to the afterlife. This is not the admirable picture that had been painted for me in school… And I also learned that often, tribesmen would offer up their wives for the visiting white men’s entertainment, as a means of trying to lay hold of the white men’s power, or something like that. (Stephen Ambrose explained it much better than I.) Anyway, all the time those men were traipsing across the country, bravely hunting and camping and building boats and foraging and that sort of thing, they also were often living it up with the Indians’ wives. End result? Many of them, most of them even, suffered from VD which they’d contracted from Indian women. (Which, oddly enough, Lewis treated with mercury…but that’s fodder for another post.)

Again, this is not the picture that was painted for me in history class.

One particularly striking image that Ambrose shared was of a Pacific Northwestern tribe; because of the warm but wet climate and their reliance on canoes for transport (is it possible to climb into and out of one without getting at least a little bit wet?), these folks simply went without clothes from the waist down. I suppose it must have been a losing battle to keep such duds dry and clean, and they probably gave up after a few days of waddling around in heavy, sodden pants and skirts. The downside was that Lewis was able by simple visual examination to determine which tribe members had VD and approximately what stage of the disease they were in.


And this got me thinking about how nasty diseases have always been part of any culture where “modern” man has trod (the Europeans were likely the initial carriers of the infections, which they happily passed to Native Americans) and how many people of every culture will philander if given opportunities—especially when those opportunities are encouraged by other people who are around.

And that, for some reason, got me thinking about how people can be hiding all sorts of secrets inside about their bodies, but can still be quite obsessed about their cleanliness. This seems to be especially true for Americans. They have less than admirable sexual habits, if the stats are to be believed—even the kids are misbehaving more—and to top that off, most of them eat like pigs, greasy nasty processed stuff that does not do a human body good… but by golly, they’ll never miss a shower in the morning. I don’t get it. Why are Americans so worried about smelling like a living being instead of a bar of soap? Or worse yet, a bottle of cologne? And why aren’t they more worried about their insides?

And that thought, for an even more obscure reason that eludes me, reminded me of women who choose to squat in public bathrooms, and then leave their drippings on the seat for the next hapless restroom visitor. Why? Now, some toilet seats are scary, nasty things, I know—I can see why you would choose not to sit on bare porcelain. But most toilets are pretty harmless. Lay down some TP, or use one of those fancy paper seat covers, or whatever, but don’t fret: well-respected doctors all over the world have explained that nasty diseases don’t live on toilet seats. They can’t. Unless, perhaps, people leave wetness on the seat and give the nasties a good place to hang on and breed. So, I hope that if there are any squatters out there reading this, they’re also responsible enough to do a quick wipe-clean when they’re finished.

And where can you pick up nasties? Where do they actually thrive? In warm, wet places—like the public jacuzzis at that fancy club or expensive hotel. Now THAT scene is a hotbed of nasty microscopic activity.

Since that is such a nice, happy thought, I think I’ll end this post.


Anonymous said...

Don't get me started about the squatters!!! I curse them every time I use a public bathroom. Picky enough about their own germs to squat, and yet, unconcerned enough about me that they waste no time wiping the seat of their drizzle. GROSS!!!! You're right about the rest, of course. I heard the comedian Gallagher put it perfectly once - in America we might die young from our lifestyle, but we want to look good in the coffin! Weird.

Facie said...


Your post was probably not intended to be funny, but it did make me laugh!

I have to say, though, I much prefer to smell something good and not stinky. I cannot worry about all the hidden diseases other around me may or may not have, but I sure don't want to smell BO. And as much as I hate strong perfume (which is almost a non-issue in our office since someone sent a note around asking people not to wear it anymore due to her fragrence sensitivy), I think I prefer that to BO.

Mel said...

always happy to amuse, facie!

and yes, Gallagher is right. messed up.

I don't know--I'm not a fan of heavy BO, but at least it has a human element, it smells alive. some of those perfumes are pretty oppressive, too. how about a nice balance of living but not stinky? ; )