Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Beer Or Brain?

We’ve all heard various urban myths over the years. There’s a wee bit of believability in them until you give the story some thought. Once you do that, stories like the kidney removal are barely worth the effort it takes to shake your head.

My first urban myth came from my mom. I was about eight years old, I think, and had been outside on a winter’s day waiting for my parents to return from a trip to a nearby town. I was wearing earmuffs.
According to mom some poor fellow in that same nearby town had been out making deliveries two weeks earlier, wearing earmuffs, and he froze his brain.
The story stayed with me. I didn’t have the capacity for critical thought at that age to realize it was less than possible for this to happen. Eventually I realized the absurdity of it. Years later I told my husband the story. To this day he calls earmuffs “brainfreezers.”

Sometime in the mid-1990s mom told me the story again as it had just happened two weeks earlier.
Oh, well. Poor fellow.

If the frozen brain is absurd, then this next story is preposterous. I heard it about 20 years ago when I was working in Fort St. John in northeastern BC.

Seems some members of the local Native population spent a good deal of time outdoors in the winter consuming alcohol and building fires to stay warm. According to my boss, the editor of the local daily newspaper, one woman fell asleep by her fire and wound up in the local hospital for eight days. She was okay, but the beer in her stomach was frozen.

I started to say something, but realized it was pointless. It’s a good story in that it covers so many bases. Alcoholism, racism, medical marvels, mysterious ways of the Natives, plus it’s entertaining and it makes the brainfreezers story sound legitimate.

So I wonder, now that the cold weather is upon us, if I put on some earmuffs, lift a few, and then sleep outside, which will freeze first, beer or brain?


the Bag Lady said...

dfLeah - those are both hilarious. The Bag Lady is pretty sure that the brain will freeze before the beer, cause alcohol doesn't freeze... Mind you, if there's enough alcohol flowing through the brain...hmmm, that IS a connundrum, isn't it?

Crabby McSlacker said...

Very funny!

I remember hearing as a kid that army ants were not only dangerous, they were huge: each a foot long.

This fact lingered uncorrected in my brain until my 20's when I found out they were big, but just big for ants--maybe an inch.

I kind of miss the terrifying idea of foot-long carnivorous ants, though.

Virginia Lee said...

Y'all Canajuns sure are crazy. The one summer I spent in northern Wisconsin was the coldest summer of my life - it snowed on May 11 for heaven's sake! I'll stay in the South, thanks. We may be having a drought, but it's in the 70s here today.

Meanwhile, my 6th grade teacher (@ 1975) told my class that old urban myth about the pizza delivery guy who had a microwave oven in his car to warm up the pizza before he brought it to your door. He wasn't paying attention while he drove and rested his hand inside the oven and sure enough, cooked pizza delivery boy hand! Now then, all together now - Ewwwwwwwwww! ! ! !

Leah J. Utas said...

Oh my, foot-long ants. Kind of shame it's not true, Crabby.

Ohh eeewwww. Cooked hand. That's a lovely one, Virginia Lee.

Leah J. Utas said...

DfBag Lady - Sounds like a good science experiment. If enough alcohol were run through a brain, and said brain wore earmuffs by a fire...

Reb said...


Having been bald last winter, I am not sure that the brain won't freeze! Well, I was very, very cold anyway.
Maybe because I didn't drink any beer?

Virginia Lee, we have had snow here in July! Snow in May is nothing, almost to be expected!

Michael said...

My brain freezes sometimes just trying to think.

Although, I might mention that I once saw a documentary on Discovery Science about a species of carnivorous ants in Africa. Don't laugh, because this story is actually true! But they're normal sized ants; they just happen to travel in swarms and will devour anything that can't protect itself. Which means, if you're ever in that part of the world, don't get drunk and go to sleep on the ground!

Leah J. Utas said...

"...if you're ever in that part of the world, don't get drunk and go to sleep on the ground!"
Good, solid advice, Michael.