Al Batt: Folk cures for relentless hiccups

Published 6:30 am Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Crappy diem.

That’s carpe diem.

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Maybe to you.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: I stopped at an echo point. I didn’t need a password to yell “O. Leo Leahy!” The echo repeated what I’d said. O. Leo Leahy was a name used on The Bob & Ray Show. Those were a couple of radio geniuses not all that familiar today. Old is good, but new is often better. Cars are amazingly good today. I thought of the car I owned when I was a pup. I paid $75 for it, which was at least $70 too much. It gave me heat in the summer and air conditioning in the winter. It carried me to my last day on a job before I headed off to school. The company I worked for built implement buildings. I was the young squirt. On my concluding day, I was paid for staying out of the way. My boss said that it was money well spent.

Working in a salty snack mine

My job was to go to the supermarket and gather as many bags of salty snacks as would fit comfortably into a shopping cart. This was to provision a large gathering of folks with a hankering for free snacks. As I checked out, the cashier looked at my cargo chips and said, “Wow!”

“Winter is coming,” I replied.

Persistent hiccups

I had hiccups for forever and a couple days, enough to cover a two-week vacation and then some. I was unable to eat and sleep wasn’t restorative. They were burdensome and exhausting, but no record. Charles Osborne of Anthon, Iowa, began hiccupping in 1922 while attempting to weigh a hog. He continued hiccupping until 1990, 68 years later.

My hiccups were relentless, like an ant bully with a magnifying glass. Hiccups might be one of the plagues mentioned in the Bible. The synchronous diaphragmatic flutters are involuntary and spasmodic contractions of the diaphragm. Hiccups are a form of myoclonus, as are the sudden jerks or sleep starts experienced before falling asleep. The hiccups were side-effects of surgery. It baffled a team of doctors and nurses. They gave me shots and pills, which were of no help. “You shouldn’t be having these,” said one doctor.

“Hick!” I replied, involuntarily describing myself.

I did radio shows with hiccups included. The guy who cleaned my room, friends, family, radio listeners and complete strangers offered folk cures. Old wives added tales claiming hiccups were caused by elves.

I had someone frighten me by showing me my hospital bill while I held my breath, bit on a lemon, gargled with water I drank from the far side of a glass and squeezed my earlobes while tugging on my tongue. Then I spit on my right forefinger before placing dry sugar on the back of my tongue, ate mustard on a saltine cracker with a spoonful of peanut butter and drank pineapple juice while visualizing a green cow grazing in a blue field. That’s worked in someone’s family for years, but it didn’t help me.

I repeated the word, “pineapple,” using it as a cudgel until they subsided.   

Occasionally, I get a hiccup, two or three. I try not to panic.

Nature notes

A deer had run in front of my car. It wasn’t a large ungulate, probably a half-a-buck. I watched a raccoon climb down headfirst from a tree by rotating its back feet. In an attempt to keep from worrying that I was spending too much time offline, I attempted to see a cloud that looked like the city of St. Cloud. I walked face first into a spiderweb. I apologized to the spider. If you wish to thrive, leave spiders alive.

Blue jays bothered an eastern screech owl trying to sleep in the yard. The owl’s ear tufts of feathers are called plumicorns. A flock of starlings traveled the edges of the woods. The name starling comes from the Anglo Saxon and means little star – likely from its star-shaped silhouette in flight. Turkey vultures are known to the Cherokee as “peace eagles” because they never kill.

The yard was busy with busy honey bees. According to Golden Blossom Honey, in order to produce 1 pound of honey, 2 million flowers must be visited. A hive of bees flies 55,000 miles to produce a pound of honey. One bee colony can produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey per year. An average worker bee makes about 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.

Meeting adjourned

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.