Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Too much of a good thing

In Sacramento last weekend, a woman died after drinking about two gallons of water in a radio station's "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest.

Nobody at the radio station was thinking about the fatal effects of hyponatremia. What was on their minds was much smaller potatoes -- fourth-grade bathroom humor. It's one more senseless tragedy that could have been avoided by hiring better writers. Think of how much funnier KDND's marathon of wee-wee jokes could have been if the contestants had been drinking yellow Gatorade instead of bottled spring water, and nobody would have died of fatal dilution.

Food, like water, is a good thing. You could argue that it's the good thing, the mother of all good things, the big universal need. You can't live without food and neither can any creature we know about. You can live perfectly well without alcohol, without tobacco, without cannabis and opium; I do it every day. But you can't live long without food. Food is a good thing.

Nearly everyone agrees on this, although you'll meet the occasional dissenter. Back in college, we knew a boy who claimed to care nothing for food. My guess is that he resented the time that eating subtracted from his studying. He was a pre-med whose father was a doctor, so he had no viable Plan B if he didn't get into medical school. He said that if he could swallow a daily pill that would take care of his total nutritional needs, he wouldn't miss food one bit.

Where is the food-hater now? He's a senior vascular surgeon in North Carolina. What does he do all day? Triple, quadruple and quintuple bypasses on people like me.

Doctor, did you ever find that pill? I'd like a bottle now.


  1. Lots of irony here. We can't live without water, but yet it can kill us. The doctor can live without eating but yet is a surgeon for people who eat too much.

    I had actually heard other stories about people dying of too much water, only not for a video game. It was a fraternity initiation. Take away alcohol from some (also mentioned in your blog) and those frat boys find other ways to harm each other and themselves.

    The lesson from all of this, everything in moderation.

  2. I can claim to be that college boy, though without the family history and medical aspirations. Food generally wastes my time. It's not just the eating, but also the preparing for eating, the talking during meals, and the cleaning up afterward (though college dining halls significantly expedite the clean-up phase). The whole scenario is unpalatably unproductive.

    Yet my distaste for food really stems from the incredible power it holds over me. When I don't eat, I can't think, and when I can't think, I can't work. I can't stomach that degree of dependence.

    So, Mr. Weinstock, if you ever find that lad and he's created those pills, let me know. (And file a patent if he hasn't already.) They promise to set us all free.

    My ignorance was correctly diagnosed--I learned many things previously unknown to me from reading your blog. I wish you the best in your endeavor, and suggest you avoid Venus's noxious atmosphere and superheated surface if at all possible.


Your comments are welcome. Or to respond privately email me at david.weinstock@gmail.com.