Monday, October 12, 2015

A Baby Girl Named "Female"

William Lynwood Montell, Tales from Kentucky Nurses (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2015), 76.

The Hospital Didn’t Name the Baby

A lady delivered a beautiful baby girl at an area hospital without any complications. When she was ready for discharge and the hospital was inquiring regarding the baby’s name to be placed on the birth certificate, she stated that the hospital had already named the baby.

When questioned further, she stated that the baby’s name was on the bassinet. The person completing the birth certificate was confused and told the mother that the hospital did not name the baby, that this was her decision. She adamantly told the person that they did name the baby and her name was Female, pronounced Fee Mah Lee, which is how she pronounced the name.

Now the hospital only puts “baby girl” or “baby boy” on the card in the nursery bassinet.

Janet Smith, Irvine, January 14, 2013.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Soulful Sherpa

Emily Urquhart, Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family, and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes (Toronto: Harper Avenue, 2015), 124-6.

[M]y mother told a story she’d heard about a British traveler ascending Everest. He’d been barreling ahead despite his Sherpa’s advisement of a day of rest, annoyed by his guide’s refusal to follow suit. When the two men rejoined a day later, the British traveler had berated the Sherpa for his perceived laziness. “Be careful,” the Sherpa warned. “You need to rest to allow your soul the time to catch up with you. If you don’t, your soul might never rejoin your body.”

When I look for evidence of this scrap of overheard conversation, I follow a trail of contemporary legends. Some reference the British mountaineer, but in other variants the protagonists are wealthy Americans trekking in the jungles of Brazil who want to forge ahead but are warned by wise locals about moving too quickly for their souls to catch up. In yet another variant, Americans on safari in Africa are warned by the sage guide to slow down and wait for their souls to rejoin their bodies. The settings vary but the protagonists are interchangeably American or British. […]

[D]ecades later, I ask my parents about the legend, expecting the tale to have vanished, as ephemeral stories do within greater life narratives. Instead, they both know it immediately.

“Jakob Amstutz told Mieke that story,” my mother said. “He was a Swiss philosopher who taught at the University of Guelph. And it wasn’t Everest; it was a different mountain in Tibet.” Mieke, who is an artist and my mother’s closest friend, had been mentored by Jakob when she was a student.

“He was climbing with Sherpa guides, and they reached the summit and started heading down the other side,” my dad says. “The philosopher wanted to hurry down, and he felt the animals were rested and ready to descend, but the Sherpas said they needed to wait for the animals’ souls to catch up with them.”

“No, no, it was the Sherpas who were waiting for their own souls to catch up with them,” my mother says.

Variations persist in this retelling, and details are lost in time. I ask Mieke about the Sherpas and she tells me that Jakob Amstutz heard it from Carl Jung, who’d heard it from Walter Evans-Wentz, the American anthropologist who’d published an early translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Ultimately, the teller’s details are extraneous because the truth is in the story. It is a mindful warning: slow down or risk losing yourself.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sailor DID NOT Use Raccoon to Bypass Breathalyzer

San Diego Union-Tribune
30 September 2015

By Tom Mallory and Lyndsay Winkley

Why question the truth when the story is this good?

The story was that a drunk Navy petty officer used a raccoon to bypass a breathalyzer installed in his vehicle.

We’re sorry, Internet, but it's just not true.

“I called police records, and while they were highly entertained, they confirmed (the story) is absolutely a hoax,” said 1st. Lt. Savannah Frank, a public affairs officer at Camp Pendleton.

The laugh-inspiring, but far-fetched story about an inebriated military man and a commandeered raccoon was put up on Imgur several days ago. The post featured a photograph of a police "incident report" from Saturday that spun quite a tale.

After a night of drinking, it read, a first class petty officer failed the breathalyzer test that allows his car to start. In a moment of alcohol-fueled ingenuity, he visited a nearby park, kidnapped a raccoon, and forced the creature to blow into the machine. […]

Frank said the official incident number featured in the post was a giveaway, since Camp Pendleton police records use a different system.

Just to be thorough, though, the officials who work with police records on base went through the incident logs and found no breathalyzer incidents involving raccoons or other rodents. […]