Etiquette & superstition: rheumatoid disorders

hanmer-baths

This post is dedicated to my old pal Gort, who has been noticing cures for gout popping up in her Facebook feed lately.

ETIQUETTE: If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, it is perfectly acceptable to not shake a person’s hand when it is offered to you. You may choose to excuse yourself by explaining your situation, but if you are uncomfortable going into your medical history during an introduction, you can try taking their hand in both of yours. Alternatively, you can plan to hold something in your right hand in situations where handshaking is likely to occur.

There is another handshake being promoted by a a rheumatologist lately that involves you approaching the other person’s hand from the top rather than from the side, but it seems to me that unless you are a dowager queen this one could be tricky to pull off. Try to avoid lying about being germophobic, because this will likely make the other person curious about what you will and won’t touch and why… and it’s also just kind of bad to lie about having a medical condition you don’t have.

SUPERSTITION: If you suffer from any sort of rheumatism, you can either:

  • crawl through the arch of a bramble branch that has taken a second root in the ground (this may be quite painful if you have rheumatism, however);
  • ask a person who was born a breech baby to step on you with their bare feet; or
  • place a buckeye, a nutmeg, or a stolen potato in your pocket.

If you suffer specifically from gout, you should rip the legs off a spider and put it on your foot, securing it with deer skin. You’ll be hopping around in no time.

Photo from Archives New Zealand via Flickr

A funny thing happened on the way to the Apocalypse

I recently realized that I didn’t make part two of my “I found this bit of information while searching for some other information” list that I started in July while on a research job. That research job is now complete, and I’d rather think about anything other than the news today, so let’s finish this thing up.

  • There is a photo of Captain Kangaroo at the summit of Mount Everest; his grandson Britton put it there
  • Gary Busey was the last person killed on the TV series Gunsmoke
  • Westinghouse made a clothes dryer in the ’50s that played the song “How Dry I Am” when the load was finished
  • Robert Ardrey and Ashley Montagu were well-respected 20th century anthropologists with conflicting theories about the nature of aggression in humans. Ardrey believed aggression was innate, and Montagu believed it was learned. Perhaps less well-known: Ardrey was also a Hollywood screenwriter (credits include The Three Musketeers and Madame Bovary), and Ashley Montagu’s real name was Israel Ehrenberg but as a young man he changed it to “Montague Francis Ashley-Montagu” for some reason
  • There is no music composed by Beethoven (the human) in any of the Beethoven (dog) movies
  • “Stars and Stripes Forever” is only ever played by a circus band as a signal to personnel that a life-threatening emergency is happening and they must evacuate the audience
  • Mark Twain’s childhood hometown of Hannibal, Missouri is also the hometown of the voice of Jiminy Cricket, Cliff Edwards. Edwards died a penniless drug addict three and a half miles away from where I am writing this now
  • Singing trio The Andrews Sisters became estranged from one another in the ’50s, and Patty Andrews’ husband Wally is frequently cited as the reason for the estrangement. After LaVerne died, Patty and Maxene briefly reunited but soon separated again for reasons unknown. Upon Maxene’s death, Patty reportedly became quite distraught and Wally fell down a flight of stairs, breaking both wrists
  • A new species of iguana was discovered on Fiji after herpetologist John Gibbons watched the Brooke Shields film The Blue Lagoon and noticed some unusual specimens lurking in the background
  • 20th century composer Arnold Schoenberg was extremely superstitious and in particular suffered from triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13). He died on a Friday the 13th shortly before midnight
  • There is a Scottish variant of “She’ll Be Comin’ Round The Mountain” called “O Ye Cannae Shuive Yer Grannie Aff The Bus.” The song allows for you to shove your uncle Willie, your aunt Maggie, and even your paternal grandmother off the bus, but your maternal grandmother is not to be shoved off the bus
  • All-American kitsch favorite PEZ candy was invented in Austria; PEZ is a shortening of the word “pfefferminz
  • Watch this:

That ruthless but stylish pimp is none other than kindly Gordon from Sesame Street.

 

Please be carful

My friend Mike encountered these warning flyers at the Old Zoo the other day.

donodoapeepee

I’m glad someone is putting up warnings, because I for one do not want to encounter a flaming baby or a ginger police demon. The most menacing thing I’ve ever seen at the Old Zoo at midnight is a roving gang of Pokemon Go hunters, but I don’t think I should press my luck.

donodoapeepee2

It just stopped raining and I don’t consider myself particularly macho.

Photos by the ever-adventurous Mike Biggie

Etiquette & superstition: not keeping secrets

whisper1

I was once asked to pose for some photos with a giant ear. All of my initial poses were me with a “huh? I can’t hear you” face. When he couldn’t stand it any longer, the photographer mentioned that I was posing with a giant ear, and maybe it would make more sense for me to try to tell the giant ear something rather than try to hear what the giant ear was trying to tell me.

ETIQUETTE: The most common form of secret-sharing is the whisper. A whisper expresses that the information being shared is only for the owner of the ear being whispered into, and obviously the owner of that ear should respect that fact and not further disseminate the information being provided by the whisperer.

The only problem with whispering is that it is an uncommonly loud form of communication. People outside the conversation can hear that a conversation is taking place without hearing what the conversation is about. It is an intentional act of exclusion, and it sounds like an angry snake. Whispering is acceptable only when you need to tell someone a short message that would cause them embarrassment if it were heard by others, such as the fact that they have lipstick on their teeth or their fly is undone before an important meeting. If you need to share a longer secret with someone, go to a place where you can speak in a normal tone of voice without others hearing you.

SUPERSTITION: If you need to find out a secret that someone is keeping from you, wait until that person is asleep and then stick a paper funnel in their ear. You can also cut a live goose’s tongue out and stick it on the sleeping person’s chest. They will soon tell all. If this person never sleeps, you can try walking around with an old key in your pocket.

If you find a gold pen, it means that someone has betrayed a secret of yours. Sorry about that, but at least now you have a gold pen.

Whisper-Spark” by Jason Hadley, via Hadley Art
Published in: on December 23, 2016 at 12:40 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Etiquette & superstition: noses

5266395914_77177a7968_z

About a week ago I decided in the morning to do an etiquette & superstition post about “triangles,” because I had an etiquette point in mind but decided it was going to be too difficult to find a matching superstition for that exact topic. The vaguer “triangles” subject was going to cover both.

Well, this was all well and good until the evening when I was trying to figure out what the hell my “triangle” etiquette point was going to be about, because of course I hadn’t written it down. I wound up at about 11 p.m. going on Facebook and asking for help from friends for what topic this triangle etiquette thing was supposed to be about. Nothing clicked, and things got pretty weird suggestion-wise.

Benny was snoozing peacefully on the couch as I was muttering, “What is it… what IS it…,” and I guess I was getting a little loud because he asked what I was going on about, and I said, “Etiquette. Triangles. What could that be?” And still half-asleep he said, “Cheese?” And that was it. Benny knows me well.

You’ll notice this post isn’t about triangles. Turns out there aren’t a lot of great superstitions regarding triangles. Let’s move on to noses*.

ETIQUETTE: When cutting a bit of brie from a wedge, it is extremely rude for you to cut straight across the wedge, taking the tip for yourself. This is known as “cutting the nose” off the cheese, and it’s rude because this part is thought of as an especially delicious and creamy part of the cheese. Before this wedge was a wedge, it was part of a circle of cheese, and that tip is what was in the center of that circle.

What you need to do is slice a thin sliver lengthwise along one of the sides of the wedge so that you have some of the center, some of the middle, and some of the outer rind. Oh, and don’t scoop the middle out of the brie, leaving the rind on the plate. Take all of that even if you’re not going to eat the rind (which you really should, I mean come on). I don’t know if this is called picking your nose, but maybe it should be.

SUPERSTITION: A woman’s elbow and a dog’s nose are both cold because when Noah’s Ark sprang a leak, Noah couldn’t find his tools to fix it so he stuck his dog’s nose in the hole. The dog couldn’t breathe, though, so Noah grabbed his wife and jammed her elbow in there. Thanks, Noah.

If you have a nosebleed, you can cure it by stabbing a toad, putting the toad in a sack, and wearing the sack around your neck. Or you can find some moss from a dead man’s head and put that on your face. If both of these are too adventurous for you, you can just take a cold key and press it on your back. Yawn.

Photo by wackystuff on Flickr
*”Why didn’t you just write an etiquette & superstition post about cheese?” you might ask. Well, I already did that. And yes, now I’ve screwed myself if I find a good etiquette tip about noses, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Can I haz important?

My friend Vicki found this posted to the largest banyan tree* in the United States. An important note for an important tree.

15042148_10155416446408219_3832935083229617775_o

Oh geez. This isn’t just an important tree. I just read that in India banyan trees are thought to be inhabited by malevolent spirits. Maybe that’s just Indian banyan trees though, and this pup is fine.

Oh geez, part two. I just read that in Malaysia banyan trees are thought to be inhabited by beings that swing down and terrorize villagers. Maybe this pup is still fine, though. A plush toy isn’t a villager, is it? And again, this isn’t Malaysia. It’s Hawaii.

The only thing I can find about Hawaiian superstitions and banyan trees is that a white woman might be living in the tree somewhere. And I’m sure you can melt her heart with this notice and make her give you back your pup, Kuroki. You definitely melted mine; I think it was the paw print. Best of luck with your quest.

*Settle down; not literally on the tree. That’s clearly a post.

Etiquette & superstition: old wood

396691716_bafbf1db2f_z

Many years ago, a friend gave me a wooden pipe that had been carved into the shape of a penis. It never got used much by anyone and we will not speak of it again, at least in this post.

ETIQUETTE: If you are having a dinner party but wish to show off your lovely antique wooden table, it is perfectly acceptable for you to use nice placemats instead of a tablecloth. Keep your place settings as simple as possible to avoid a cluttered “island of utensils” look, and make sure you have enough trivets and coasters for any serving dishes and implements that are on the table.

SUPERSTITION: According to the letters received by the rangers (check them out here and here), if you steal a piece of petrified wood from the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona terrible things will happen to you. Your dog will die, your fancy new vase from Mexico will break, a loved one will get kidney problems or cancer, and you will fall through the roof of your new house. You’ll probably have some car problems as well.

Don’t bother sending that piece of petrified wood back to the park, either; the rangers can’t verify where it’s supposed to go even if you draw them a fancy map, and they’ll have to throw it onto the ever-growing cursed Pile Of Conscience they started by the side of some unlucky road.

Photo by Philip Porter via Flickr

Etiquette & superstition: parsley

2068032615_a783c53be5_z

I’ve been somewhat lax in posting lately; I confess that I find it difficult to write in a lighthearted tone when I feel like punching people in the throat. I believe there are 48 days until the 2016 presidential election. Hopefully I will be able to maintain a cooler head in the days to come so that we all may continue enjoying our Fancy Notions. Let’s talk about parsley

ETIQUETTE: Parsley is used as a garnish for a savory food dish; it should not decorate a dessert plate. This sturdy sprig is perfectly acceptable to eat and in fact will help overcome strong mouth odors you may have acquired from consuming a pungent meal. Simply pick up the sprig with your fingers (no need to be overly daintly with a fork unless it is covered in sauce for some reason), and chew well before swallowing.

If you are dining with a companion who has parsley stuck in his or her teeth, let them know in an unobtrusive manner as quickly as possible. If you are the person with the parsley tooth, and your first couple of attempts to swish or wipe the leaf away are not successful, excuse yourself from the table and attend to the matter yourself in the restroom. Your partner’s attempts to pantomime the exact location of the bit are clearly not helping and you both look ridiculous.

SUPERSTITION: A wreath of parsley worn around the neck will prevent intoxication. How you get this parsley, however, is a bit trickier. People don’t give parsley to others unless they want a heap of bad luck. You’re going to have to grow it yourself. If you’re a woman in charge of planting the parsley, be advised this you might get pregnant by doing so. More on this later; moving on.

Plant the parsley in the place you intend it to stay, because transplanting it will kill someone in the household within the year. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t sprout right away; only very wicked people seem to have luck growing it. Oh hey, are you a woman who is worried that she got pregnant when she planted parsley? Stick some sprigs in your vagina and you’ll get your period soon enough.

Photo by Peter Lindberg via Flickr

Word of the day for Wednesday, July 6th

Is there a foreign word for tragedy fatigue? Is there a foreign word for hoping that tonight you won’t have nightmares about rampant mayhem and your imminent torture? I either need the world to get better or I need some new foreign words that describe things succinctly. Oh, here is one. It doesn’t describe any of those things I was just talking about, but maybe we should stop thinking about those things for a while:

Glitter text

The word and its meaning (“emptiness after visitors depart”) aren’t that mindblowing, but what the Baining people in Papua New Guinea do to alleviate it is. According to Tiffany Watt Smith, a research fellow at the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary University of London, in order to get rid of that lousy awumbuk feeling “the Baining fill a bowl with water and leave it overnight to absorb the festering air. The next day, the family rises very early and ceremonially flings the water into the trees, whereupon ordinary life resumes.”

Thank you, Tiffany. I have a feeling that your new book The Book Of Human Emotions is going to make the world a little better. Just knowing that there is a Centre for the History of the Emotions is making my world a little better. Now, is there a foreign word for “gratitude for finding a whole new list of great foreign words“?

Etiquette & superstition: unwanted fires around the domicile

Fancy Notioners, I must beg your forgiveness for being absent this past week and a half. I am tempted to lay the blame on this little eight-acre fire

abc7fire

that broke out on Sunday in the lot next door to us

13435507_10208511730622495_2460389698809510070_n

(yes, that is our garden hose trickle and yes, I have titled that photo “Impotence”) and melted all wifi and cable connections to the residents of our fair hill,

13466016_10205498099845903_3691582666713804338_n

said wifi connectivity only returning to us today. But the truth is that I had already been quite tardy in posting by the time that fire broke out, so I really have no excuse. Please do forgive me.

ETIQUETTE: A reader wrote in to Miss Manners some time ago inquiring about the proper attire for fleeing an unexpected trash fire in or around one’s domicile, seeing as how said reader noted that such occurrences happened with some regularity in his apartment building, and invariably required interactions with his neighbors.

Miss Manners replied that events of this sort should be considered “come as you are”-type affairs, and I must say this is a relief. I now know that the neighbor in our driveway on Sunday exhorting Benny to put on a shirt and me to get something on my feet was merely speaking out of concern for our safety and not from disgust at our loathsome conflagration outfits.

SUPERSTITION: Making sure your household electrical wiring is up to date and that all dry brush is cleared from within 200 feet of your home is all well and good, but if you really want to protect your domicile, take the proper steps: place an adders skin in the rafters, put some dry seaweed in a frame on the mantel, and hang an egg laid on Ascension Day from the roof and you should be all set.

First photo above via ABC7; second photo by Benny while he was protecting our property; third photo of the shed on the empty lot that the creepy neighbor kids can’t smoke pot in anymore by me
%d bloggers like this: