MY MOTHER ALWAYS SAID, "ALLEN..."

I knew that my mother loved me, because she always imparted advice to benefit me as I grew up just as Forrest Gump's mama did for him. However, as an adult, I have discovered to my chagrin that much of her guidance wasn't correct. If you can't trust your mother to be right, whom can you trust?

I blame my mother for causing me trouble keeping my weight off. I need to drop at least a dozen pounds. I feel that my struggle with that extra weight dates back to my childhood sitting around the kitchen table until I finished my meal. As I played with my peas or labored over fried liver, my mother would inform me that millions of Chinese were starving. I didn't know what I should have done with that declarative sentence. Was I responsible for their plight? If they were starving, I was surely willing to share my leftovers. However, because some kid on the other side of the world was starving, forcing me to eat didn't seem to make sense to me. Had I merely eaten enough to satisfy my hunger and left the table, I would be thinner today.

Washing my hands with soap that contained hexachlorophene was another things installed deep into my psyche by my mother. She must have been fearful of fungi, bacteria, and other harmful microorganisms attacking her beloved and eldest child. Her insistence upon washing my hands made me think that I was a surgeon preparing for an operation and needed to remain germ-free and sterile. She was so determined to keep me antiseptically clean that I took to heart her phobic response to all microscopic aliens and heeded her admonitions about washing me hands. When I became an adult and was on my own, I would check out my soap before purchasing. It first had to pass the scent test and then it had to have some germ warfare ingredient before I would bring it home to my bathroom. I readily purchased kitchen detergents containing anti-bacteriological ingredients when they came onto the market several years ago. I was an easy convert and added these products to my arsenal of WMGD (Weapons of Mass Germ Destruction).

Now, the federal government is getting involved in this war against germs. They wanted to eliminate WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) from Iraq, which they seemingly can't find. So, they are turning their attention to WMGD. They are telling us now that my mother was wrong. They claim that germs are good for you. If you don't allow some germs to survive, your body won't build up resistance to other germs.

Well, that made sense. Consequently, I reduced my personal WMGD inventory. I hoped that I hadn't done too much damage to my immune system by recklessly destroying every little varmint on my skin, clothing, and kitchen countertop.

All was going well as I built up resistance to all sorts of virulent micros until recently. Germs were growing and my immune system was strengthening itself by allowing those bacteriological straw horses to grow and then my immune system would attack and kill them.

However, in the wake of the flu outbreak, national health officials are now telling us to wash our hands with WMGD wipes hourly to protect us from contacting the flu bug. Along with no longer trusting my mother's advice, I can't trust my government to decide to wash or not wash.

To add to my personal terror and confusion level regarding bugs and disease instilled by my mother, mad cow has finally come to America. It seems that our federal government and meat producers followed my mother's other advice to me: waste not; want not. Meat producers include downer cows, cows that can't stand on all fours when they arrive at the slaughterhouse. These downer cows might be too old, sick, or have broken legs and have to be assisted into the slaughterhouses across America, killed, and fed to us and other animals. Waste not; want not. Duh!

My mother has long since died, but I still love her. However, I wish that she were as correct about her sayings and advice as Forrest Gump's mother was.

This article appeared in the Dixon Telegraph on 1/20/04

Editorial note: I warned my readers about this exactly half dozen years ago in an article about the British experience with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE): http://wolverton-mountain.com/articles/madcow.htm.