Watching the Coronapalloza unfold from my quarantined perch here in Beijing, the duality from the very real threat that the illness poses for many and the accompanying hysteria for those not nearly at risk, has my again reminding myself that Reason and science really need to balance itself out vs irrational fear. I have tried to be positive while following trends and even switching mental models several times so that my beliefs remain congruent with reality. Needless to say you must learn such ways of thinking as you might grow up in an incubator guided by fear or even worse superstition.
Not many people know this but when I was born I almost died. To be more precise I wasn’t born on my expected date but was induced 10 days premature as I was struggling for survival inside mom, given a 50% chance of death and a greater chance of mental retardation.
I had what was known as an RH incompatibility.
Long story short: Mom was an RH – and Dad was RH +. The big brother popped out RH +. Being exposed to rhesus + blood moms RH- blood built up antibodies to all future RH+ babies. Now the fix was available in the mid to late 70s, a simple Rho(D) immune globulin injection. They never gave it to Mom with her O- Demon Rhesus blood. And here comes A+ Angel Blood Marc fighting against death at the beginning of life.
Now if you read that above paragraph and look at the picture it makes perfect, legitimate scientific sense. It made so much sense that the State Courts Of New York awarded me $20K in a medical malpractice suit when I was 13 Years Old.
So the triumvirate Of Medicine, Law and Science have reached a consensus which no one can doubt.
No one except Grandma.
🚨Warning🚨 The next paragraph is 100% Factual
Being an Italian from Brooklyn she had no use for that new fangled Medical hocus pocus and instead consulted an Italian fortune teller who requested an article of my clothing. Grandma proceeded to the hospital where her darling infant grandson was fighting deaths icy grip and STOLE A SHIRT I HAD WORN and snuck the the contraband out of the Hospital bringing it to the soothsayer who using only the finest techniques available to an Italian Sorceress in Brooklyn determined that the diagnosis was, in fact… I had a curse placed upon me by a particular family member. And while the Medical malpractice suit took many years and involved accusations counter accusations and denials the Wizardress has zero problems pointing the finger at the guilty party and naming names.
I first heard this story that you just read when I was only five. However being inquisitive yet naive I had a greater understanding of hexes than rhesus isoimmunisation, and went all in on the curse hypothesis.
I wanted answers!
“Mom, Who the Fuck cursed me?” (In so many words)
“I won’t tell you until they die.”
This was the worst thing my mom could have said cause not a funeral passed in the next few years (and there seemed to be a never ending procession of croaking Great Uncles and Aunts in the preteen years) that amidst the flowers and the black clad mourners did I not gaze with an icy Steel glare at the open casket, while others weeped I’d look at mom and do a head nod towards the the deceased with an expression that said “So… was it Uncle/Aunt (fill in blank with the soul of the presently departed)”
Several years passed, funeral after funeral with me looking with vengeful eyes at dead bodies wondering if this was the ultimate victory: me outliving my arch nemesis who attempted to kill me in utero. And to have mom just shake her head no each time wondering if my hidden foe would survive long enough to one day finish the job.
And then Aunt Lucy died.
It was almost not even worth asking. Aunt Lucy was always nice to me and Always used to bring my brother and I Sarah Lee cakes (New Yorkers understand) when she knew we were visiting Grandma. Why even bother asking if Aunt Lucy was the Fetal Assassin.
But you know due diligence and all as the weeping mourners gathered there I was looking at Aunt Lucy, looked to mom to give her the typical “so…” head nod to question if my mortal enemy was finally dead.
Mom looked deer in the headlights. No “Yes” no “no” just the look you give your kid when he asks if the Easter bunny is real or where do babies come from.
I asked again. Again no answer.
It was probably all for the better as a positive ID might have lead to me tipping the bitch out of her casket.
I waited until we all hit the car for Confirmation.
“Mom, was it Aunt Lucy?”
“What the Fuck?!?” (Again in so many words)
“She placed a curse on you cause she was jealous of me. She was never able to have kids.”
Sidebar: Mom screwing me up for shit beyond my control is probably a deeper metaphor for my life.
“But the Sarah Lee cakes. That shit could have been poisoned.”
Time and discernment have taught me that while Aunt Lucy might have hated mom my fragile health at birth was the fault of an obstetrician, who possibly also hated mom 😁
I think of this story more than I tell it which is a shame because not only is it a good story to tell but you can also glean a few life lessons.
1. Science and reason should beat superstition.
2. Never take candy from strangers. And if people don’t like your parents don’t take cake from friends 😉