Whiplash: One Kid is Enough
That question again. I got it three times in a week. "When are you going to have another?" Another what, you wonder: Orgasm? Anxiety attack? Slice of pizza? No. Another KID. Bambino. Genetic twig. Tax deduction. CHILD. What is it with these people? My sole kid is, as it happens, the calculated result of the very extraordinary death of a very extraordinary friend. A treasure, but unique. One kid is all I wanted. One. Uno. Singletarian. No one in my family has more than one. So what's the deal here? People conclude that one wanted child presumes two? I have a dog, but no one asks when I'm getting another; no one worries that she's lonely, unsocialized or overindulged. No one thinks I'm selfish for raising an only dog. The plural-kid bias is widespread: Try finding an only child in a popular television series, or in a major ad campaign (there's one in the White House, but those giggly Gores more than compensate). Consider the question "Do you plan to have kidS?" or the comment "I'd like to have childREN." No one ever asks "Do you plan to have a CHILD?" (although women do say "I want to have a BABY," which comes dangerously close to being something totally different). I've decided it would be neat to apply this multiplicity principle everywhere. Introduce me to your husband and I'll say "Oh, he's lovely, when will you get another???" Tell me about your kidney transplant and I'll gush "I bet you can't wait for the next one!" Show me your nose job, and count on me for "Terrif, when is that eyelift?" And the next time someone asks about my second child, if I'm in a really frisky mood, maybe I'll come back with, "Gee, I don't know, when's your next presumptuous and stupid question?"There seems to be a growing trend in restaurants to have the same person who serves me my food also take my money. Think about all the places our currency travels -- little kids' mouths, gutters, sweaty g-strings. I realize germs are everywhere, but isn't there some food handlers' code this is violating? Or am I the only one grossed out by this? --Anonymous Epicure Yes, you are the only one. And yes, the law stipulates that in between money and food the servers shall either wash their hands or wipe them on a wet towel -- but can you just imagine what flamboyant bacteria are partying on that towel? Ponder, if you will, the "germs" on door handles, stair railings, grocery carts, library books, strangers' coat sleeves, car keys, chairs in waiting rooms, babies' hair, pine cones, bathroom sponges, snorkels, checkout counters, computer disks, aspirin bottles AND NEWSPAPERS, what are you doing reading this -- get thee to a clean room, fast!What is toothpaste? Left exposed to the air it turns into such a rock solid substance I don't understand how it can be good to put on your teeth. And when was it invented, and by whom? --Dental Mental You're going to be sorry you asked this. The first toothpaste mentioned in recorded history was concocted by Egyptian healers around 2000 B.C. Made from powdered pumice stone and wine vinegar. Tasted really terrible, but it was ambrosia compared to what the early Romans used -- human urine. First-century Roman docs contended that brushing with urine not only whitened teeth but fixed them more firmly in their sockets. Rich Roman ladies paid a fortune for Portuguese urine, purported to be the most potent. Piss toothpaste -- and piss mouthwash -- were prescribed into the 18th century. And those early dentists were right; urine contains ammonia molecules, which would be added to later dental pastes. The dentifrice you're using (and why do you leave it in globs exposed to the air?) probably contains chalk, glycerin, baking soda, fluoride and a sudsing agent, along with yucky coloring and saccharin. The stuff I buy is laden with seaweed and coconut oil; but it too contains baking soda and fluoride. Chalk gets hard when it's not paired with water. Want more dental history trivia (stop me before I masticate)? The first mechanical drill debuted in the 18th century; it rotated about 500 times a minute, in contrast to today's water-cooled drill, which spins more than half a million times a minute; but it was preferable to the hand-operated ice pick that brave oral surgeons used to grind away enamel in earlier eras. Oh, and you didn't ask about toothbrushes, but until 1937 they were made with hog bristles.I have set up a kiddy pool in my back yard (975 gallons). Can I throw some bleach in the water to keep it from getting slimy between changes? I called a couple of pool places and they were no help. -- Anti Algae You must breed hefty youngsters. At nearly 1000 gallons, that's no "kiddy pool, it's a spare room for Keiko. I think your bleach idea is a bust. Besides being a skin irritant, bleach wouldn't kill all the parasites interested in your potential pond. Even if it were successfully sanitizing, without a filtration system you're cultivating a swamp. You'd do better to stock your pool with a school of sculpins. What's your aversion to slime? Slime is more epidermis-friendly than chlorine is. Keep a cover on the pool, float in the gunk, invest in a small purification system or change the water as often as you would the stuff in a bathtub.I locked myself out of my condo last week; couldn't break in, had no spare key, so I called a locksmith and he got me in within minutes. It occurred to me; I could have been an opportunist, someone who wanted entry so I make off with stereo, TV, cash, silverware. Do locksmiths ever try to prove that people really do live there, and are locksmiths liable if someone commits a theft this way? --You've Got a Brand New Key Thieves don't need to bother with locksmiths. Thieves can get in your house or car as quickly and easily as any trained lawful-entry person. Thieves have no reason to involve a locksmith witness, a locksmith response time (zzzz) or a locksmith's bill. But your locksmith should have tried to get you to prove that was your house. "The car might be in the driveway and have a registration in it, there might be a piece of mail in the mailbox, a neighbor might verify it," said one locksmith I questioned. Reputable locksmiths are very careful about this stuff, even though fraudulent calls are uncommon. The suspicious ones usually involve cars and a broken relationship. If she got the Acura in the divorce settlement, he might choose to recruit an accomplice locksmith to retrieve it. "You gotta use discretion," said one 30-year vet of the lockout business. "You can usually tell when somebody's telling the truth." Well, perhaps. But locksmiths take lots of risks. If something seems fishy and a key man refuses to open your house or business, he may be threatened. If he lets your ex-spouse into your T-Bird against your wishes, he may be sued. If he provides access to someone who claims to be a "housesitter" or relative, he might get some blame for theft. But reputable locksmiths take all this seriously, and some go to a great deal of trouble, checking scraps of paper on kitchen counters, cross-referencing names on cameras and other possessions before they will let you remain on the premises. The industry may seem wide open for abuse, but the truth is that only a bonehead would use a locksmith for illicit activities. It's just a hell of a lot easier to hot wire a car, use a Slim Jim, break a rear window, or sneak in through an unlocked garage. And if you're trying to get into a business you had better be able to prove you work there. As long as they do their utmost to ensure that things are on the level, locksmiths are not held accountable for shady dealings. Unwitting accomplices are like Good Samaritans; rarely blamed. Don't get locked out. Hide a key somewhere accessible. Or get a combination lock. Without the Whipshroud of anonymity you would have been too humiliated to admit your stupidity. Don't take the chance again. Hike a key. For my sake, OK?Send questions to Whiplash by fax (503-297-6620), e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone (243-2122, ext. 320) or slug mail (822 S.W. 10th, Portland, OR 97205-2519).