Things they used to tell me
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          “Now, don’t you go outside. You just took a shower and your hair’s wet. You’ll catch your death of cold.”
          My grandmother was just caring for me. She loved me as I loved her. She was saving me from getting sick.
          I was twenty five years old before I gave thought to what she always told me about going outside with my hair wet. Before that I just believed what she had told me. If I went outside with a wet head of hair I was practically guaranteed to get a cold.
          There were other bits of my family’s sage advice passed on to me. My mother and father contributed too.
          During the winter months my mother would always offer, “Be sure to get dressed real warm, it’s cold outside and you could get a chill, then you’ll get a cold for sure.”
          My father was just protecting me when he would say, “Don’t crack your knuckles or you’ll get arthritis.”
          My grandmother was sure that if you swallow your gum it will stay in your stomach for seven years.
          There were plenty of these old wives’ tales I was told and accepted as truths. Then, in my twenties I began to question them.
          Mom used to warn me that “You lose most of your body heat through your head.”
          Dad would say, “Don’t drink milk when you have a cold, it’ll make you phlegmy.”
          I heard them all. “It’s okay to dip in the chip dip more than once.”
          I took Ginkgo biloba pills for years before reading the research that said it doesn’t help learning, memory, attention or concentration. There is no research that justifies taking Ginkgo.
          One of the most controversial myths is the one about sugar affecting kid’s behavior. Many studies show that sugar does not affect behavior, although most parents don’t believe this. In one study, the parents were told their kids had sugar and they were more likely to report problem behavior. Sounds right, doesn’t it? In reality, the kids had consumed a sugar-free drink.
          I never brought up my objections to mom, dad and gram about what they had told me. I doubt if they would have changed their beliefs if I had.
          People still believe many of the myths and old wives’ tales that have existed for generations and I’m sure they’ll exist for many generations to come.
          The truth is that going out in cold weather, wet hair or not, won’t make anyone sick. It’s more likely that cold weather keeps people indoors, where germs are more likely to catch up with you. So, it’s not going outside that’s dangerous, it’s staying indoors, where the germs reside.
          Cracking your knuckles has nothing whatsoever to do with getting arthritis, so go ahead and crack those joints and annoy those around you. It won’t give you arthritis.
          It’s amazing about how many people still believe that gum stays in your stomach longer than any other item you swallow. It’s just that gum isn’t very nutritious.
          There is nothing special about your cranium and heat loss. You’ll lose heat through any uncovered body part.
          This one could belong to George Costanza of the Seinfeld sitcom. He tried “double dipping” at a party and got into trouble. In one “double dipping” study a scientist took a bite of cracker and dipped it into salsa, cheese dip, chocolate syrup and water. They did the same test with a fresh, unbitten cracker. They then measured bacteria in the dips and the volunteers’ mouths. Three to six “double dips” transferred about 10,000 bacteria from the eater’s mouth to the dip. Salsa picked up the most germs from “double dipping.”
          As far as kids eating sugar and getting hyper. If you watch a group of youngsters at a birthday party you’ll see them getting increasingly active. The hyper activity is probably caused by all of them being in the same room, getting excited by their own company – rather than by the sugar in the cake they just ate.
          There are still thousands of old wives’ tales and myths being passed down from generation to generation. The belief in these legends is strong.
          As for me, I’ll go along with the modern research, but once in a while when my hair is wet from showering I think twice before going out in the cold morning air to get the newspaper from the front lawn. After all, why tempt fate?
Grandpa in the year 2061
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