A 19th CENTURY PHYSICIAN ANSWERS POPULAR YAHOO! INQUIRIES: THE “IS IT BAD?” EDITION BY MATTHEW VOLLMER




Prose


 


john-harvey-kellogg-1-sized
John H. Kellogg, MD, did not write this article

by Matthew Vollmer 

Is it bad to brush your hair?

The brushing of one’s hair isn’t bad in and of itself. Maintaining hygiene, as we all know, is as much a part of one’s self-esteem as it is one’s health. Excessive brushing, however, will in fact lead to dry scalp, skull-deformations, and night terrors.

 

Is it bad to mow wet grass? 

There is no substance on earth that water cannot—over time—erode, and the best way to dull a scythe is to use it in a wet field. Grass, then, should be mown not in the morning when the blades are heavy with dew, nor in the middle of the day when the sun’s heat is highest, but in the cool of the evening, followed by a supper of stewed prunes and wheat biscuits.

 

Is it bad to make yourself sneeze? 

To sneeze is a necessary if rather violent function of the human nose and as such, should never be stifled. Suppressing the force of a sneeze could, and in fact has, resulted in many a brain hemorrhage. And yet, one must also remember that the gratification produced by a single sneeze is the equivalent of one-eighth of the sensation reached upon achieving sexual climax. Therefore, the stimulation of one’s own nose in order to produce a sneeze would most certainly fall into the category of solitary vice, which this physician cannot recommend. Today, one causes oneself to sneeze; tomorrow, one hides oneself to practice solitary vice; next week, one grows hair on one’s palms, goes blind, and falls into distemper and mental illness.

 

Is it bad to tickle babies?

Tickling is one of the worst torments one can inflict upon babies and should be avoided at all costs. The intense and at times unbearable pleasure will—at the very least—cause a sort of incomprehensible stress at their very core and at worst, imprint upon them a love of cheap amusements.

 

Is it bad to flush condoms down the toilet? 

A condom itself is terrifying—a sheath one wears to penetrate another for pleasure, all while preventing one’s seed to perform its God-given occupation—but the thought of these things amassing themselves in the dark, preparing for a return trip, I cannot abide, and certainly not condone.

 

Is it bad to always wear a bra?

There is no doubt in my mind that the smothering of the breasts accounts for 98% of the hysteria of the female sex. While breasts should no doubt remain covered in public, women would do well to unbutton their blouses within the privacy of dense forests, or behind closed doors of rooms where windows have been raised, where they—remaining completely hidden, of course—might feel the enlivening breeze wash over their chests. To cast off a brassiere, to rub away the pink tattoos left by its heinous wraps and fastenings, is to acknowledge the restrictive fictions of our civilization.

 

Is it bad to go to sleep with wet hair? 

Wet hair weighs down the head, which is the seat of the soul. The closer one sleeps to the ground, the more susceptible one is to those earthbound spirits whose sole livelihood it is to infect sleeping bodies with nightmares. Dry your heads, good people, so that thy dreams might be bright!

 

Is it bad to not tip the pizza guy?

Cheese, that increaser of secretion viscosity, should under no conditions be introduced to the stomach. That said, all deliverymen, whether they bring poison or nourishment, should be paid their due share.

 

Is it bad to rock your baby to sleep?

The rocking chair remains one of modernity’s most appalling inventions. It grants to the slothfulness the rhythms of progress, and provides an illusory satisfaction. Moreover, a child who is rocked to sleep will never learn to sleep on his own. I am ashamed to admit that I personally know some mothers who are still rocking their two-and-three-year olds! Good heavens!

 

Is it bad to swallow your gum?

There is perhaps no greater health risk today than that posed by the chewing of gum. Not only does the required jaw-movement grant the gum-chewer a look of casual and thus promiscuous consumption, but this incessant mastication erodes and thus weakens the mandible. That said, if you do find yourself in the position of having swallowed a wad of this infernal substance, it’s recommended that you swallow dehydrated tapeworms. And if you must take up a habit, remember that there is none as revivifying as the smoking of strong, fresh tobacco!

 

Is it bad to use human shampoo on dogs?

In general, no dog should ever be washed, as soap interferes with the epidermal mechanisms that regulate his natural cooling processes. Have faith in your mutt’s ability to sniff out that which he finds himself to be offensive, so that he might, with his valiant tongue, go about his good and necessary business!

 

Is it bad to love someone too much?

Nothing is as satisfying as a love built upon mutual respect, admiration, and—above all—restraint. Overindulgence in pleasure of any kind breeds selfishness, and love is certainly not exempt. We would do well to remember that husbands and wives in their reproductive years should engage in sexual congress no more than once a month, and that mothers should regulate the wonton kissing of their children, and that young men courting their lasses should deliver no more than one or two stanzas of poetry during the courtship period, lest the objects of their desire fall into a frenzied, amorous madness. How heavy is the heart of him who thinks oft upon his lover; how cloying is his song! Therefore, let us not forget the importance of putting our lovers out of our minds and out of our sight, so that, when we return to them—whether in our minds or in our physical bodies—our reunions, in their oh-so-tender fleetingness, might be ever sweet.

 

 

Matthew Vollmer is the author of two story collections–FUTURE MISSIONARIES OF AMERICA and the forthcoming GATEWAY TO PARADISE–as well as a collection of essays–INSCRIPTIONS FOR HEADSTONES. He is co-editor of FAKES: AN ANTHOLOGY OF PSEUDO-INTERVIEWS, FAUX-LECTURES, QUASI-LETTERS, “FOUND” TEXTS, AND OTHER FRAUDULENT ARTIFACTS and is an editor for the University of Michigan Press’ 21st Century Prose series. He is an Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech, where he directs the undergraduate creative writing program.