[The Sandoval Signpost (Web edition) is pleased a punch (diet punch that is) to bring you the humor and insightful human observations of Daniel Will Harris, author of My Wife and Times. We continue this entertaining series with Daniel’s ruminations about the those curious bacteria that control our lives. —Ed].
Bug Carriers, we
By Daniel Will Harris
I think I've lost my mind. If you stumble across it, could you drop it in a mail box, or possibly e-mail it back to me? I'd really appreciate it.
I'm not sure when or where I lost my mind. If I knew, I'd go back and get it, but I don't, so I can't, so that's that.
I might have lost it sometime last year, around November. But the reason I think I must have lost it is because so many things happening in the world just don't make any sense.
My friend Chris says that "90% of everything in the universe is sh*t" and while that sounds accurate, it doesn't explain all the nonsensical things happening on this planet. Nonsensical things may very well be happening on other planets, even moons, at the same time, too, but I not only wouldn't know about that, I have to admit I couldn't possibly care less, unless those nonsensical things are leading up to huge masses of alien beings in the shape of candy corn attempting to take over the planet by rotting out our teeth and giving us all those sugar headaches.
If you stop and think about it, that makes about as much sense as anything.
In fact, I had a dream a few days ago that went a long way to explaining why almost nothing makes sense, though I have a feeling that when you hear this dream you will think it makes no sense—but that's all part of the insidious plan.
So here's the dream: we humans think we're running this planet (some might say "running it into the ground") but the truth is we're not. We're a somewhat smart species and it just doesn't make sense that we'd do such consistently stupid and self-destructive things while at the same time running around as if we owned the place.
Then I woke up and learned that as much as 10% of our body weight consists of microorganisms like bacteria; on average, 9 to 11 pounds of them (four pounds in our digestive tract alone). Some, like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus produce vitamins and other nutrients to help support our immune system. Others help us digest our food. The epithelial lining of the human gut is almost 2 inches thick with bacteria.
But others are parasites—living off us and not even paying rent! Some are downright toxic.
So now here's the freaky part—recent research at the Washington University School of Medicine showed that our intestinal bugs can communicate their needs to our human body. When their food supply of carbohydrates is low, they scream at us for more. Our bodies listen and—get this—respond! I mean, what are we, their slaves! We CRAVE what THEY want. I told you it was freaky and I'm not making this up.
So is it really that far of a stretch to imagine that these tiny creatures are actually controlling us in more ways than goading us into eating that entire carton of Ben & Jerry's?
Anyone who's seen Star Trek knows about "The Borg," a collective group of beings that work together with a single mind. People who study bees see the same behavior. Billions of bugs, living inside us, tell our bodies what they want—which in turn, infects our thinking. We're no longer making independent, logical decisions (not that people were ever inherently logical, but maybe this is why!).
So we go lumbering around, acting like we're the king of the world ("woo woo") when in reality, we're little more than the unknowing army of bug carriers! Yes, it sounds like sci-fi, but who can say? You can't, because your bugs are whispering to you, "It can't be true, it's stupid, ignore him and if you get close enough to him, hit him with something, like a pie, because we really like pie." (Insert the sound of 10 billion little squeaky evil laughs, here.)
It might not be wise to come right out and say this, but then again, since nobody will believe it, I'm probably safe, at least until the mother ship arrives, carrying tons of Tootsie Rolls, the favorite food of parasites (in fact, the Tootsie Roll company thought about using "favorite food of parasites" as it's slogan until stopped by the parasites, or the marketing types; sometimes it's hard to tell them apart).
But I've said it, and I'd feel better if I didn't have this weird stomach ache. I wonder if there's any ice cream in the freezer. If not I'm going to have to go to Vermont and get some. Right now.