How (not) to cure a headache
I ran into my good friend Nick Brubaker last weekend. I only get to see him about once a year, so there were a lot of benign topics we wanted to cover. But the first words out of his mouth went beyond the simple courteous remarks most old friends deliver after the passage of time.
Nick cared not to tell me where he works, where he was living, or some other notable achievement in his life.
He didn’t ask me how I was, what I was doing these days, or how my two-year stint in prison went.
In fact, when Nick spotted me he charged me like a stampeding bull and his lips quivered in anticipation of telling me something he knew I would find peculiar.
According to Nick, our old high school biology teacher, Mr. Houser, is really upset with me.
Quite honestly, this comes as no surprise to me, nor should it for you. I am sure I have been the root of Vietnam flashbacks for many of my past educators.
Nowhere is this best depicted than with Mr. Houser, whom I called Doogie back then on account of how popular the television show “Doogie Houser M.D.” was at the time.
Houser – and this was his downfall – put up with my shenanigans. He laughed more at my pranks, my jokes and my strange sense of humor than any other teacher. That only served to encourage my rebellious tomfoolery.
One time I was dissecting a dogfish in Doogie’s class, fooling around like usual. I used a scalpel to pierce the eye of the shark. Then I “accidentally” squeezed the fish’s head really hard. A gross mixture of formaldehyde, shark blood and eye juice sprayed all over several students, mostly the nerds, and all over Houser.
As a side note, that’s a skill I am really glad I learned. I would have never made it this far in life without the skills of being able to dissect a dogfish. I am always finding myself in situations that can only be rectified with the quick and steady dissection of hapless marine biology.
Another time I was responsible for stabbing Mr.
Houser in the thigh with his own ink pen. That really was an accident, but that’s a story for another day.
So naturally, I inquired with Nick further.
To my surprise I learned my old biology teacher isn’t still upset with me because I once doused him with shark sauce or stabbed him in the thigh.
Mr. Houser is upset because I have been unknowingly spreading misinformation about how to cure headaches, and attributing it to him, for the past two decades.
I didn’t learn much in Houser’s class, but the one thing (I thought) I learned was him telling us the best cure for a headache was drinking water, because that was the fastest way to get oxygen to the brain.
Only in retrospect does this claim seem preposterous; breathing air is the quickest way to get oxygen to the brain.
But for 20 years I have told so many people to drink water if they had a headache, citing the credibility of my high school biology teacher. I have told my wife, family members, friends, co-workers and people impatiently waiting behind me in line at the gas station of this medical cure-all.
I have told so many people over the years, including Nick, to drink water for a headache that it eventually made its way back to Houser himself.
And he took issue with it.
“Was he upset?” I asked Nick.
“Yeah, he seemed upset,” Nick responded. “He told me to tell you that you are wrong and to stop telling people that.”
I was crushed. I wondered how many force-fed glasses of water I have ingested over two decades for the primary purpose of quelling a headache. I think of those I have manipulated through falsehoods in order to convince them to imbibe as much water as they can hold.
So I am sorry, I guess. I shouldn’t have told everyone I know that drinking water is the best way to cure a headache.
Perhaps the best thing to do is just take a couple of aspirin – with water.