Fear and loathing in the new sex-ed curriculum

Your kids are being taught health education from a curriculum that was created before there was likely a computer in your kitchen. OK, I’ll say “sex ed” so the hat chewers can get to it.

Since the last update in 1998, we’ve gone from few with Internet access in their homes to most having it in their hand. Every time you install a net nanny to keep your children from viewing forbidden material, keep in mind it was no doubt invented by someone not much older, and the ability to disable it will be along in 20 seconds. Kids are like anything you try to keep penned; they’ll find the weak spot.

The contents of the revised program are being conveyed to some communities in interpretations that are worse than immoral; they’re purposefully putting forth inflammatory lies to stir up those who can’t seem to do the only thing that would make any sense to me: read the damned curriculum yourself.

Feel nervous that your five-year-old will be taught the word penis? Do you feel uncomfortable with the word leg or hand? Then it’s your discomfort that is going to make it difficult for your child — that one you’re so worried about — to come to you with any issues about his wee-wee, including the fact that someone else is touching it. The concept of consent might be the single most important part of this upgrade. Nobody is destroying the romance of childhood; they’re protecting it.

Let’s assume you keep your children under wraps until they’re 18. You’ve filtered all contact with computers, friends, television, movies, music, billboards and pop culture. When you finally send them away to school, or they get out in the world without you beside them, you know what they are? They’re prey. Congratulations. You’ve not only hobbled them with ignorance you’ve saddled them with guilt.

Worried about conversations the program might spark at home? House rule: if my children are brave enough to ask me, I have to be brave enough to answer them.

Each step of the way, the revised sexual health curriculum gives children power: it teaches them fundamental biological understandings of their bodies as well as giving them tools to cope with the enormous emotional changes they are going through. It does not teach your child to be gay, it simply teaches them some people are, and you don’t get to beat them up for it. Issues surrounding sexual orientation, gender and family structures are all crucially based on respect, not sex.

Children shielded from this kind of information often need it the most. A child realizing he or she is gay needs somewhere safe to bring questions and fears. Remember, a Mom and Dad who don’t “condone homosexuality” can’t just hope it will go away. I don’t condone cancer or amusement parks, but they’re still real.

The very people opposing their children learning fact-based, clear language, information about their health and bodies are the very people who will sub in for that education with words like “you don’t need to know that” and “those feelings are dirty.” Insert your teen suicide statistics here.

Everything your child learns will be laid down over a template of the values you’ve instilled at home. Information meted out incrementally over years will augment that framework, not replace it.

Children have a voice.

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Unbelievably, Motherlode gets romanced by… a dog

ShelbyAbout six months ago, Ari, 20 started dating Taryn, also 20. I was allowed to meet her, which in our household means only one thing: she’s been warned. Over the years, I’d wondered when my sons might start dating. It turns out they’d been handling dating all along; it was a question of when their dates would be able to handle me.

Quite frankly, I’ve always been perfectly charming. I smile and shake hands firmly, yet kindly. I ask about their school and work lives, I don’t say words like “gangsta” because I’ve been warned, and I never, ever say “when I was your age” because again, warned. When in the presence of new people, I try not to yell at the news on TV and I am usually wearing pants.

Then Ari spoke the words that sent a chill down my spine.

“Taryn has a dog.”

Oh. I don’t do dogs. I’m polite around dogs, but it’s the kind of polite where you eat something that has lima beans in it because it would be rude not to, but you walk away wondering why anyone would purposely buy lima beans. Taryn lives an hour away and I figured it was her family dog, and I’d have to look at pictures and say it was cute even if it looked like a cross between a schnauzer and a schnitzel.

Nope. Shelby is Taryn’s dog. A collie shepherd cross, she is just a year old. When Ari asked if they could visit, I smiled a fake smile and pictured my cats tearing around the house chased by a dog like some manic Saturday morning cartoon. I know dogs.

My mom grew up having dogs; all apparently now live on a farm in England somewhere (the dogs – not my Mom) but we were never allowed to consider it. Even getting Nooly the cat was a reach; I’ve met a lot of dogs in my life and too many struck me as being eternal two-year-olds; certainly cute but way too needy.

Instead, Shelby came into the front hall and sat down. I patted her l head and she lifted a paw for me to shake. I nearly asked her about her school and work. Four cats darted into the basement, no doubt learning how to spell apocalypse as they ran. I decided that Shelby could visit in the backyard, so the cats wouldn’t freak out.

Taryn moved to our city, and Shelby was now a larger part of the equation. I offered to babysit one afternoon for an hour; a dog out back on her lead on a lovely day, me working away, how hard could it be? I looked up to see Shelby peering at me through the back door. She was not on her temporary tether. She’d somehow worked her way free, and come to tell me. She doesn’t bark.

“If you behave, you can come in. I have some work to finish,” I explained to a dog. She obediently plunked down, and JoJo, our oldest cat, sat in the next room giving this intruder the evil eye.

It’s been a month now. Shelby and the cats share the same space more or less amicably. She shakes my hand whenever she sees me and I pat her lovely head. She’ll do sleepovers in Ari’s room and after some initial missteps (“I know it’s 6am, but how can you be sure she doesn’t have to pee?”) I’ve learned the only thing a dog wants you to do is love it.

I’ve spent a long time being certain about all the things I know. Kind of nice when an old dog learns a new trick.

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Two floods and a flat. Catastrophe? No, Tuesday

On a recent Tuesday morning, I sat staring blankly at my computer monitor willing words to erupt for two different noon deadlines. They were not erupting. Pammy, 23, wandered bleary-eyed into the kitchen. She is in the homestretch of her degree thesis and final projects and is sleeping a couple of hours a night, if she’s lucky. She’d gone down two basement steps when it all started.

“The basement is full of water.” I’m not afraid of many things, but I am afraid of water loose in my house. Water on the loose inside is like having a bird or squirrel on the loose; I’ve had both of those things, too, which I’m sure comes as no surprise.

I could hear something leaking. I could also see cartons and furniture and things that we’d always meant to put away. I hollered for both boys and tried to detect the source of the problem. The humidifier on the furnace was dripping away, which meant the first phase of Sommerfeld Scientific Leak Control had to be put into place: finding a cooler. This was easy, because it was still under the leak in the roof in the attic.

The water line to the humidifier – the saddle valve, as Google was about to inform me – was busted. Ari turned it off, working with two No Frills bags wrapped around his feet. Our unfinished basement floor is kind of nasty. It didn’t hold. He headed to the hardware store (he took the bags off his feet) for a fix some guy on Google suggested. I called my sister at work, because her husband, Manny, is the next best thing to having my own when the house falls apart. I’m not sure he agrees.

As I hunted for a plumber, my deadlines taunted me. I watched two kittens head downstairs to investigate, as I futilely yelled at them to stop. Ten minutes later, Boy Kitten ran back upstairs with clumps of litter on his feet like platform shoes on some 80s metal band member.

My sister found someone to stop the water, which was good because the Google guy was a liar. Even with the water shut off, the drips kept on. A man named Darryl showed up and I handed him a pair of water wings and sent him downstairs. Christopher and Ari continued hauling stuff outside as we lowered property values for the neighbourhood.

An hour later, as I stood in the driveway thanking Darryl profusely, I glanced down. The car had a flat tire. With Pammy frantic to leave in 5 minutes, I called a friend who donated her car. Christopher started sorting out the tire, and I watched my deadlines fly by.

Ari shook his head. “What else could go wrong?” he asked. I headed back downstairs to check on the drying process, only to notice water pooling around the sewer drain on the other side of the basement. Yup. The sewer was backing up. Tree roots chose this day to announce they were back.

Floods, flats…so many F words that day. As Ari and I discovered why you never, ever say “what else could go wrong?”, he paused and looked at me. “Hey, turn around. Look! I didn’t know you had grey hair. You have some grey hair!” He was laughing. I was not. I was having the kind of day you read about when people’s hair turns grey all at once. I’d decided by 4pm that is truly a thing.

I glared at Ari and considered adding one more F word to the day.

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How many details do famous people owe you about their health? None

Joni Mitchell’s recent health issues are capturing headlines. Speculation is to be expected when the person in question is an icon.

It was reported she was taken to hospital a few weeks ago, condition unknown. I’ve watched concern pile up among music lovers and here in my own small heart because Joni Mitchell is, well, Joni Mitchell. Her work stands alone. News of her being unwell reminds me of all the things I take for granted, the things I think about sporadically or intensely or sometimes not at all for long stretches; Joni’s music is a friend of mine.

But I also watched one paper publish an opinion piece along the lines of What Joni Has Always Meant to Me that read more like an obituary. I thought that was the height of bad taste until I read another that flat out stated if she was suffering mental health issues, we needed to be told because how else will we ever reduce the stigma if someone like Joni Mitchell won’t discuss her personal issues? It made the near-obituary look a wise editorial decision. It wasn’t, but there’s nothing like terrible to make bad look better.

You’ve heard of peak oil, the terminal decline in readily available oil, terminology now being applied to water. Have we reached peak garbage yet? Maybe our brains are at last so saturated in nonsense that we can finally stop entertaining ourselves to death and start to have conversations about things that matter. Joni Mitchell is no real housewife, no fame whore kindling notoriety into headlines because talent was just too elusive.

Yet, a newspaper article in one of this country’s major players opines she owes us more. She owes us the nitty gritty, down and dirty details of what might be playing out with her health. Specifically, her mental health. Because Mitchell – intensely private – has alluded to struggles in the past, we deserve details. A 75-year-old heavy smoker is taken to hospital; speculate on that if you require fodder. Don’t pretend her mental health is about education and information by deciding within a moral vacuum what she owes us.

I talk openly about being bipolar. I spill pretty much everything if I think it might nudge others to find help, or gain a little empathy. I live out loud, but never in a million years do I think anyone else is obliged to. You don’t demand someone share details of their life because you think it’s the right thing to do. You don’t get to decide that Joni Mitchell owes you anything.

I love when people say they’re just tryin’ to reduce the stigma, helpful little busybodies that they are. Discussing an individual’s mental health in a conversation they are not participating in is not about boosting awareness, it’s about chasing ratings. There’s stigma about a lot of things, like adultery or hemorrhoids. By a certain age, you’ve probably dealt with one of them. Shall we speculate, so we can remove the stigma? Care to have people publically debate your association with either of those topics?

Car manufacturers have started making something they call “infotainment” systems. It’s a horrible word, colliding information and entertainment together as if we’re too stupid to be able to process one without the other. At least they’re just trying to physically maximize space with the idea. I’m tired of news sources hiding behind a veneer of advocacy that is simply sensationalism, little ‘info’ to go with the ‘tainment’.

Before you take part in this kind of speculation, first decide what you would owe a bunch of strangers.

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What’s a little OCD between sisters?

When you’re a kid growing up with an older sibling, you get used to deferring to that sibling. In some ways it’s just one more person giving you orders, but it’s also someone who has beaten the path ahead and worn down Mom and Dad. Roz is five years older than I am, and did enough bad things to let me to later slip under the radar. For this, I thank her.

It’s funny how patterns and roles established in childhood hold firm. Gilly will forever be our little sister; I think she should be grateful she never ages. She thinks we should stop picking on her.

The problem with Sommerfeld women? We’re all a bunch of bossyboots. We’re all stubborn, though we’re each stubborn in our own charming ways. We’re outspoken even if nobody has asked for our opinion. We’re like my Dad in that regard. He kept all of his opinions in a satchel he carried around and handed them out to anyone who looked like they could use his opinion. He believed this was everyone.

I’m out in Toronto on Tuesdays to do my show, which is not far from Roz’s house; I head out early and take her grocery shopping when her husband has their car. Or rather, I scroll through my emails as she looks at every single red pepper in the display before selecting one. We move onto celery. Then chicken. She does it with lemons and limes and cucumbers and things I can’t even name. I throw a bag of Cheezies into the cart.

She tells me which route to take; she tells me when it’s safe to turn; she tells me where to park. We have an agreement. She can tell me where to drive, but she may not tell me how to drive. On an incline last week, she quietly said, “this would be a good time to use your emergency brake.” I looked at her. “You can’t help it, can you?” She shook her head.

When she said Easter dinner would be at her place, Ari looked at his girlfriend Taryn. “Don’t eat; we will be feasting”. He was right. This attention to detail I tease her about has awesome results. ‘Attention to detail’ is polite; she readily notes her OCD tendencies. Her nickname is One Two Three Four. In one store, I found some darling little spice jars and bought all they had. When I got home, Pammy took one look and said, “Roz let you buy nine?”

In her kitchen one day, Roz reached into a drawer and brought out a small screwdriver. Without missing a beat, she turned a screw in a light plate a few millimetres so it was perfectly horizontal. At Easter, Gilly showed us a picture of her spice drawer to compare cooking tips with Roz. The labels were in alphabetical order. I have little envelopes of spices that all fall on the counter every time I open the cupboard. I think I was adopted.

When the boys were small and the divorce was fresh, it was Roz who bought them back- to -school clothes and made up the shortfall of no medical benefits. It was Roz who helped me corral two tiny kids at the cottage over and over and called it a vacation. It was Roz who drove home on weekends to get up at 5am with two little boys so I could get some sleep.

After Easter dinner, I put a knife in the dishwasher. She turned it around. I pretended not to notice. She pretended not to see me pretending not to notice.

What do little sisters know?

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You can lead a woman to the gym but you can’t make her shrink

I haven’t worked out in 6 months. I make plans, I make appointments, I make goals but mostly I just make excuses. My Year of Tumultuous Living is now months over, and I have to get back to it. Christopher, 23, decided to start going to my trainer, Adam Higson, so I introduced them. Christer is 6’4” and works as a bouncer.

“He came out of you?” asked Adam.

“Not yesterday,” I replied.

Ari has hauled his bike out and re-upped at his gym; Pammy started going with Christopher to see Adam because I promised he could give her washboard abs. She and a girlfriend are ramping up for a vacation somewhere that requires such a thing. I think Christopher should go along as a bouncer.

I alone continue to eat cheese and experiment with ways to deep fry lettuce.

I know it has to be a group effort, this return to health. We recently acquired 2 kittens and I’ve been trying to juggle their dietary needs with those of 12-year-old JoJo and 2 year-old-Pip. Feeding them all has been insane; the kittens will eat anything and everything, JoJo is supposed to be eating her Special Fat Girl food, and Pip has adopted a sulk that has been going on since the kittens arrived and refuses to eat anything.

It reflects the situation of the people in this house. We either all eat the same way, or we all go to some hell saturated in fat and rolled in salt. When I’m working out, I can toss myself the tiny rewards. Right now it’s mostly just rewards.

Kitten food is much higher in fat, and somehow JoJo has sneak-eaten her way to gaining half a kilogram in 3 weeks. She can ill afford to do this, and she doesn’t care. She blames me for the tiny interlopers and she also caught me telling a vet who wanted to update her shots that her next shot will be her last one. I put her bowl of Special Food in front of her, telling her it is just as good as kitten food. It’s not. It’s shaped like those little stickers you used to put on three-ringed paper when it tore, and I’m sure it tastes like them, too.

The kittens immediately leave their bowls and stick their heads into JoJo’s. JoJo casually strolls over to their bowls and settles in. Pip howls pitifully from upstairs because she’s still pouting. I am reminded that you can’t make a creature eat, or in my case, work out. I have little control over any other living creature, so I will focus on myself.

Knowing success in this area begins at the grocery store, Pammy and I headed out with an actual list. We were going to make recipes. I’ve already perfected smashing chicken breasts with a hammer and rolling things up in them. I use the hammer in the tool drawer, which Roz says is not what Dad intended. I say he’d be proud of my ingenuity.

En route to the vegetables, I paused in front of a display of SmartFood popcorn. It isn’t smart, but it is yummy. Pammy shook her head sadly.

“Let’s go, Mama Lorraine, “ she said. I craned my neck around the display. I spied a different label.

“Wait! What’s this? Diet SmartFood?” It wasn’t, but a woman I hadn’t noticed earlier whipped her grocery cart around so fast it left skid marks.

“Where?”

Seems I’m not the only one who has the reward system in reverse order.

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Colonoscopy prep: turning inside out, fast

“This is the GI Health Centre calling, is Lorraine Sommerfeld there please?”

“I’m sorry, she’s out of town just now,” I replied.

I delayed a colonoscopy for over a year. I’d been dreading the rotorooter part; I should have been dreading The Prep.

Before they play up periscope, they have to make sure the coast is clear. You buy a kit, follow exacting instructions and clear the pipeline. I headed to Shoppers.

“Hi, I need the Pedi-something,” I whispered. The clerk just stared at me. “The cleaner outer thing,” I elaborated. Nothing. “I have a colonoscopy and I need that kit,” I finally told half the store. Because I couldn’t remember the exact name, she put 3 types on the counter. As I selected a smallish box that looked promising, she held up a jug as big as a keg of windshield wiper fluid. I cursed my doctor, grabbed the box and fled the store.

I had to closely follow The Prep instructions, and then show up at the appointment with clean, warm socks. The Prep begins by dissolving a couple of envelopes into 2 litres of water, and refrigerating it to improve the flavour. This is a lie. I used four water bottles for easy measuring, and then let the lie begin. Pammy opened the fridge.

“You know Christopher takes water bottles anyone puts in the fridge,” she informed me. We looked at each other. I hid them under some vegetables. We both noted I was passing up an excellent opportunity to cure him of his thieving habit, forever.

It’s hard to know how to prepare for a poonami. I’d heard horror stories, but I also needed to set a good example about preventative healthcare for my sons. Ari asked what I was doing; after 4 words he cut me off saying, “we’ll never speak of this again.” At 5:00, I took 3 tiny pills and told everyone to stay out of the bathroom. I had no clue what was about to happen. For three hours nothing did, and then there was just a lot of noise and more nothing. I called them Parliament pills.

Time to start guzzling the special water. It tasted like chemical Kool-Aid. The instructions said there would be a few hours of action. I waited. My sister Roz called, asking what was going on.

What goes on is you run back and forth to the bathroom. Then you get too scared to even leave the bathroom. Then you wonder how there could possibly be anything else in there. Roz called again and I said I hoped it was over. I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours, and I wondered if any fools ever broke the rules.

“You should have eaten corn, like a mile marker,” she suggested helpfully. At midnight, I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. I took a sleeping pill, something Roz said qualified me as the bravest woman on the planet.

The next morning I had to guzzle more crud before taking my clean, warm socks to my appointment. I debated whether I should shave my legs. I would be lying there wearing socks and nail polish, which I decided was as close to a date as I was going to get. I shaved my legs.

They knock you out so you can pretend lying amid 5 people who are about to go spelunking in your admittedly clean butt is normal. It isn’t normal, but it is painless. Getting the all clear, so to speak, is even better.

Ari picked me up, holding up his hand before I could say a word. I’ll live another 30 years just to laugh when it’s his turn.

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When the natural look just isn’t cutting it anymore

Three times Pammy has asked me to go with her to get a manicure. Three times I’ve said yes. And three times I’ve found a reason not to go

Pammy has been dating my son for 5 years. She is Tiny Perfect Pammy. She does things like hair and makeup and nails. She wears jewellery and accessories and outfits that are planned. She is all the things I am not, and she continues in her mission to make me a grown up woman.

I had a manicure once, probably 25 years ago. I’m sure my mother talked me into it. I’m just as certain I smudged the polish reaching for my car keys as I left the salon. For the record, lipstick also remains a mystery to me.

One recent Thursday afternoon, I triumphantly pushed back from my computer announcing that I was, for a change, done my work. “Good. We’re going for a manicure, then,” announced Pam. Oh. Okay. Before could change my mind, she had me in the car.

Salons interest me because they are essentially sausage factories. Disappear through the front door, and you will soon see the process of beauty which is somewhat less beautiful than beauty itself. Pammy sat flipping through a handful of colour choices, asking which one I would like. We have two new kittens with colds; I’ve been wrestling pills into them twice a day.

“What matches cat scratch?” I asked

As I made my way to the magic tables where the nails would happen, a tiny lady approached me and peered into my face. “You here for eyebrows?” she asked me. When someone asks you this unprompted, the answer is apparently yes. “Yes,” I replied. Because why not get all the beauty I could while I was here?

My sister has warned me repeatedly that before you let anyone wax your eyebrows, you discuss with them what you want. She had a negative experience that haunts her to this day. I waited for my little lady to start our discussion. Instead, she shifted me onto the bed, shoved my bangs out of the way and stared critically at the untamed wilderness running roughshod over my face. Before I could say a word, she had me in a gentle headlock and was going at it. Rip. I remained quiet, far more scared of making her angry than I was of any outcome that might haunt me for years to come.

“Upper lip?” she demanded. I didn’t even argue. Ari and I grew a moustache at the same time, 7 years ago. What’s the point of perfect brows and elegant nails if you have a 13-year-old boy’s upper lip? Rip.

I emerged from the tiny room a new woman. I excitedly showed Pammy my eyebrows; my tiny wax lady was beaming, and Pammy’s technician smiled along with us. The smiles reminded me of something I didn’t figure out until later: it was the smile I used when I was potty training the kids.

My beauty tour wrapped up with nail polish. Things have changed in 25 years; they use this stuff that adheres to your nails like paint to a car. It doesn’t chip or fade. They bake it on in tiny little drier portholes in the table, and as I thrilled at each new discovery, Pammy sighed a little and gave me that potty training smile.

She was right to nudge me and make me change my mind. I’ve spent too long thinking my way is the right way, all the time.

Maybe I’ll even give the lipstick a go.

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When having half a tail means you won the fight

Spring got here overnight. It happens inside at the same time it happens outside; we have two new kittens and they discovered squirrels at the same time the squirrels discovered tossed bread that didn’t immediately disappear beneath a new wave of snow.

Ari, 20, wandered downstairs to a flurry of activity on both sides of the glass. “Close Call is back,” he remarked. I watched a squirrel flit by, half of its tail sadly missing. Though my father has been gone over 18 years, he remains here very much in spirit. He named every wild animal that crossed his path, and renamed all the domesticated ones.

With squirrels at home and chipmunks at the cottage and all of us with a bunch of cats, he had a rotating cast of creatures to christen. Unfortunately, when it came to name selection, he had as much imagination as George Foreman. My small black and white cat was Black and White Cat. A calico was Pizza Cat. A black cat was Panther. Another two were FurFur and Ringtail, because, well, you can figure it out. Every black squirrel was Blackie, every chipmunk Chippie. I’m eternally grateful my mother named me and my sisters.

He named every squirrel and chipmunk with half a tail, Close Call. To his thinking, any animal that made it out of a dire situation by only surrendering half a tail had had a close call but nevertheless done well.

I remember him explaining this to me when I was a child, and I watched him explain it to each child who came along. All accepted it with a nod as if it made perfect sense, and in a way it did. The true test, of course, is that we have continued without pause to carry on the tradition. Dad didn’t live long enough to even explain his theory to his grandson, and yet Ari knew this squirrel’s name.

Dad grew up in rural Saskatchewan, and as I imagined a literal farmyard of animal names to investigate, he patiently explained that you didn’t name something you were going to eat. He had two horses, Blackie (of course) and Betsy. Betsy was also the name of our 1966 Rambler. My father invented recycling.

I often watch Ari when he doesn’t know it. He is much like my father in ways that are both fleeting and forever, an aspect, a phrase but more often than not, it’s a trait at a cellular level. The way he approaches a knot – a real one or a metaphorical one. The way he sizes people up and the way he brooks no trespass against some inner compass I don’t always understand. He is my Dad without the anger, the rough edges finally sanded away.

Our kittens needed names, of course, and Ari was ready. I was nervous; when he was six, he’d named two of his toys Paul and Todd. Upon discovering we were finally getting a boy cat, he had four names ready to choose from: Steve, Greg, Mark and Jeff. He suggested Susan for the girl kitten. We suggested something else.

It’s this economy, this directness, which he shares with my Dad. He has pre-named his next three cats and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him recycle the names as he gets older. Why replace something that is perfectly good?

We watched the squirrels chase through the yard, indoor kittens losing their tiny minds. Close Call was fine, I was looking for a different sort of survivor. “Any squirrels this year with no tail?” I asked Ari.

“You mean Lucky?”

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We may get the government we deserve, but who really deserves this?

If you follow American politics, and you really should, you might have seen the latest from one of their elected officials, Nevada assemblywoman Michele Fiore. I don’t really have to put the “R” after her name. You’ll see why in a moment. She’s a lawmaker. She is also the CEO of a health-care company, so you would think her insight and experience would be helpful in the crafting of health-care law, right?

“If you have cancer, which I believe is a fungus, and we can put a PIC line into your body and we’re flushing, let’s say, salt water, sodium cardonate (she probably meant sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda) through that line, and flushing out the fungus … These are some procedures that are not FDA-approved in America that are very inexpensive, cost-effective …”

Fungus. Cancer is fungus. Well, that makes a ton of sense. I mean, fungus thrives in warm, damp environments and, you have to admit, the insides of your body are pretty warm and damp. I cannot believe nobody ever thought of this before, that researchers were so busy thinking cancer was something serious that they overlooked the basic fact that it’s merely an extension of that nasty stuff you get under your toenails, or something like a truffle that a chef will dust over your eggs and charge you a fortune for.

Maybe she’s onto something. I mean, if I take a mushroom, which is surely a fungus, and subject it to a little salt, some baking soda and swirl it about, is that a low-cost cancer procedure? No, that’s a recipe.

Here’s the scary part: people will believe her. She’s trying to find ways to let people think they can cure cancer for a buck fifty. This means the medically ignorant will try this do-it-yourself home cure and die; it means those who know it’s crazy will be forced to overcome a loved one throwing this wrench into their treatment considerations. I’ll be clear: I think people have a right to refuse treatment, but it should be illegal to offer the garbage protocols this woman is suggesting.

People in positions of authority, in elected positions, people who have platforms, have a responsibility to those they serve and those they inform. If you have an overarching belief in something that compromises how you perform those duties, get out. Why did you ever get in? How did you ever get in?

I don’t want people like this assemblywoman dictating crucial health-care bills; I don’t want people who don’t believe in evolution within spitting distance of school science curriculums; I don’t want homophobic mouthpieces telling our children it’s wrong to be gay.

I want voters to actually listen to what is being said. Show me any one of these “leaders” who rush their child into a church — or a kitchen — instead of an emergency room when that child becomes ill.

I got this ferinstance from Nevada, because everything rotten in American politics is coming here; count on it. The idea of tolerance was supposed to be about those historically transgressed against, not those who would stand at a lectern with a straight face and say we can cure cancer with baking soda. I’m not tolerating people who couldn’t pass a basic science class because their ideology or ignorance gets in the way.

History texts are being rewritten as I write this. In Texas, Moses was now one of the Founding Fathers. Here at home, our history is having the word peacekeeper bleached out and replaced with warmonger.

When you know better, you do better, right?

Apparently not.

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