“If you pay attention, it all comes full circle,” said Dorothy. “First it was eggs. Don’t eat ‘em, the cholesterol will clog your arteries. Then, after the egg industry cratered and many innocent chickens lost their jobs – and for a chicken, that’s a life or death matter – it was, oh, wait! Eggs are okay. In fact, you can eat an egg every day if you like.”
“Yes,” said her friend, Gladys, “and remember butter? We were supposed to eat some kind of yellow faux spread because butter fat would kill us. A few years later, the faux stuff was out because it wouldn’t melt and butter was back.”
“And don’t forgot hormone replacement therapy: the doctor told me I’d stay on it the rest of my life because it would prevent cancer and heart disease. Then a few years later, he said stop taking it at once because it would cause cancer and heart disease. Now we’re somewhere in maybe/maybe not limbo. All I know is, hot flashes aren’t much fun either.” Dorothy fanned her face vigorously.
“Then there’s exercise,” Gladys said. “Run for the aerobic workout. Don’t run, too hard on the joints. Exercise for no less than thirty minutes a day. No, ten minutes is enough. You’ve gotta break a sweat; no, just walking is okay. Treadmills, yoga, exercise machines, weights – the only safe thing to do is sit quietly and eat a candy bar.”
“What about flu shots?” Dorothy demanded. “There’s all that stuff on t.v. about how your life hangs in the balance unless you get one, and if you’re old you need the super shot. But some years the vaccine doesn’t match the virus, and then the Centers for Disease Control says that if you’re over 65 your metabolism isn’t much good at making antibodies anyway.”
“Yeah, and don’t even get me started on tooth brushing,” Gladys said. “Brush up and down; no, just down; no, brush sideways. Use an electric brush; no, a manual brush is just fine. Floss, even though there’s no evidence that flossing makes any difference. Use mouthwash with alcohol; no, without; no, not at all.”
“I was so happy when I heard that coffee, wine and dark chocolate were good for me,” Dorothy said with a gusty sigh. “But now I hear they’re not.”
“Nope. AARP magazine said not.”
They discussed the claims of vitamin supplements and products with “natural” ingredients, agreeing that both were more likely to affect purses than health. They shook their heads over the fact that smoking really does kill, but people still smoke, and obesity actually can shorten lives, but people keep right on gaining weight.
“Humans are funny,” Gladys said. “I’ll have a cheeseburger, hon,” she added to the waitress. Sure, I’ll have fries with that. And a diet soda.”
“Diet sodas will kill you,” Dorothy reminded her.
“This week…next week they’ll be good for me.”
The waitress wondered what the two old dears at table twelve thought was so darn funny.