Is There a Doctor in the House?
Say you’re at a party. You’ve had a martini or three, and you mingle through the crowd, wondering how long you need to stay before going out for pizza. Suddenly you’re introduced to someone new, Dr. Nice Tomeetya. You forget the pizza. Now is the perfect time to bring up all those strange questions you’d like to ask during an office visit with your own doctor but haven’t had the guts (or more likely the time) to do so. You’re filled with liquid courage . . . now is your chance! If you’ve ever wanted to ask a doctor . . .
•How do people in wheelchairs have sex?
•Why do I get a killer headache when I suck down my milkshake too fast?
•Can I lose my contact lens inside my head forever?
•Why does asparagus make my pee smell?
•Why do old people grow hair on their ears?
•Is the old adage “beer before liquor, never sicker, liquor before beer . . .” really true?
. . . then Why Do Men Have Nipples? is the book for you.
Compiled by Billy Goldberg, an emergency medicine physician, and Mark Leyner, bestselling author and well-known satirist, Why Do Men Have Nipples? offers real factual and really funny answers to some of the big questions about the oddities of our bodies.
Urban legends and perennial wonders get a witty treatment in this lighthearted guide to largely inconsequential yet intriguing aspects of the human body. Leyner, a novelist whose writing appears regularly in the New Yorker and GQ, and New York physician Goldberg address food and the body (does coffee stunt your growth?), "body oddities" (what are goose bumps?), folk remedies (does breast milk cure warts?), drugs (does marijuana help glaucoma?), bathroom humor (why can you ignite a fart?), medical media (is the show ER accurate?), old wives tales (can lip balm be addictive?) and aging (why do old ladies grow beards?). And then there's the sex chapter-definitely the one where the subtitle is most applicable, with questions like "can people in wheelchairs still have sex?" and "do the kind of underpants men wear affect their fertility?" The book includes e-mail interactions between the authors, which are sometimes funny. Some of the authors' answers are unsatisfactory and, as a whole, this is much more of a humor book than a health one. The truly curious will find better, more in-depth answers on medical Web sites, but those looking for a good laugh will have some fun with this book.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Mark Leyner is the author of My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist; Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog; I Smell Esther Williams; Et Tu Babe; and The Tetherballs of Bougainville. He has written scripts for a variety of films and television shows. His writing appears regularly in The New Yorker, Time, and GQ.
Billy Goldberg, M.D., is an emergency medicine physician on faculty at a New York City teaching hospital. He is also a writer and artist whose paintings have been exhibited in New York City.
CHAPTER 1: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
It's 10 P.M., and my partner in writing and crime, Mark Leyner, and I are late as usual, but the party is in full swing. We brought a bottle of Don Julio tequila, which Leyner sampled voraciously in the cab, insisting that it needed to be screened for industrial toxins. We enter the elegantly appointed Park Avenue home of Eloise Cameron, a philanthropist, patron of the arts, and Botox junkie. Hors d'oeuvres are being served and the slightly inebriated and flush-faced Leyner grabs a mouthful of Swedish meatballs, proceeds to kiss our hostess, and then comments, "Eloise, baby, better lay off the collagen. Kissing those lips is like making out with the Michelin man." She attempts to smirk with disdain, but the Botox leaves her face impassive.
I corral Leyner and we proceed into the living room. No sooner have we entered when I'm embraced from behind. I turn around and it's Jeremy Burns, an investment banker who sits two rows behind me at the Knicks games. Jeremy is well known to the Madison Square Garden food vendors for his insatiable appetite for hot dogs, cotton candy, and beer. He is now almost unrecognizable in his new Atkins-induced skeletonlike state. "Who exhumed you?" Leyner belches. I am overcome by embarrassment but secretly wetting myself with laughter. Jeremy tries to sidestep Leyner and as their arms brush, Leyner is covered with the grease that now oozes from Jeremy's pores. Leyner whispers to me, "This dude is all greased up like a rectal thermometer." I push Leyner away and he uses this opportunity to sneak over to the bar for another blast of Don Julio. I am left with Jeremy and his insufferable stories about life on the meat and fat diet, and a million medical questions about food.
If we are what we eat, why do we know so little about food and nutrition?
DOES IT REALLY TAKE SEVEN YEARS TO DIGEST CHEWING GUM?
What is it with seven years? You break a mirror, seven years of bad luck. Each dog year is seven human years. Seven years to digest swallowed gum? What if a dog broke a mirror then swallowed a pack of gum? Sounds like an algebra problem.
Chewing gum is not digestible but it definitely doesn't sit in your stomach for years. Gum actually might help things move through the bowels faster. Sorbitol is sometimes used as a sweetener in gum and this can act as a laxative. What does this mean? Yes, if you look carefully, you should see it floating next to all of those lovely yellow corn kernels.
WHY DOES YOUR PEE SMELL WHEN YOU EAT ASPARAGUS?
Asparagus contains a sulfur compound called mercaptan. It is also found in onions, garlic, rotten eggs, and in the secretions of skunks. The signature smell occurs when this substance is broken down in your digestive system. Not all people have the gene for the enzyme that breaks down mercaptan, so some of you can eat all the asparagus you want without stinking up the place. One study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that only 46 percent of British people tested produced the odor while 100 percent of French people tested did. Insert your favorite French joke here________________________________.
WHAT CAUSES AN ICE CREAM HEADACHE?
Aaaah, the joy of a Popsicle on a hot summer day.
One theory places the source for the brain freeze in the sinuses, where the pain may be caused by the rapid cooling of air in the frontal sinuses. This triggers local pain receptors.
Another theory postulates that the constriction of blood vessels in the roof and rear of the mouth causes pain receptors to overload and refer the pain to your head. There is a nerve center there, in the back of your mouth, called the sphenopalatine ganglion, and this is the most likely source of the dreaded ice cream headache.
A friend of ours suggested a quick cure of rapidly rubbing your tongue on the roof of your mouth to warm it up. Her demonstration included a bizarre clucking sound. Leyner tried this and found himself followed by a large goose of whom he seems to have become inordinately fond.