Shouldn’t We Be Dead By Now?

“Stop!” I shouted.

My five-year-old neighbor flinched, then froze as she stared at me in confusion.

“Put that down and back away slowly!”  We had been playing with her bubble machine in my front yard, and her legs and hands were gooey with the liquid soap.  I had turned on the hose to wash her off, but before I could turn the faucet off, she grabbed the hose and, horror of horrors, bent over to take a drink.  Mercifully, before the poison liquid could reach her lips, I had gotten her attention (actually, I think I freaked her out) and she dropped the hose.

I think back to my early years in Connecticut when we used to drink from the hose on a regular basis, my brother and I, as well as the neighbor kids.  We’d squirt each other, take a drink, squirt each other some more, take another drink.  Many of us actually put our mouths on the vile thing.  We had no idea that we were making mush out of our brains from the deadly lead that might have leached into the water from the hose.  Thankfully, I’ve read about that danger in my adult years as well as many others that I never thought about growing up.  It’s a wonder that any of us are still alive.

When I was growing up, we lived half a mile from the beach and would walk there nearly every day.  My mother made sure we were armed with a hefty supply of Coppertone (was there any other suntan lotion when we were growing up in the ’50’s and ’60’s?), but as a teenager, I remember bringing baby oil and iodine to encourage a golden tan.  Mind you, I am as fair as they come with hardly an ounce of melanin in my body, but I kept trying to tan instead of just freckle.  My brother and I would blister every summer, then take turns peeling each other’s back to see who could get the biggest piece of dead skin in one single piece.  I went to the dermatologist last week for the first time since I was a teenager, sure I must be riddled with skin cancer after all those early years of abuse, but I had not one suspicious spot.  How is that possible?

In April, when I was visiting my daughter, I made cookies with my granddaughters (okay, so my eyes aren’t as good as they used to be.  I really thought that was sugar, not salt), and the girls wanted to lick the spoon and the bowl.  When I said they couldn’t because I had used raw eggs in the batter, my daughter laughed and said, “Mom, you used to let us lick the spoon all the time when we were growing up.”  That was before I knew of the dangers of raw eggs.  I was ignorant then; now I’ve no excuse.

We rode bikes without helmets, rode in cars without seat belts, had dime-store turtles for pets until we found them weeks later shriveled up behind the couch after they’d escaped, never knowing they carried salmonella, played with mercury, watching it roll around like magic, and countless other things that we now know are potentially harmful or fatal.  I’m afraid to read another article that will reinforce what terrible parents I had or  we were, letting our kids do so many dangerous things.  In their and our defense, we never knew any better.

And now I heed every cautionary statement.  That’s why I was a little shaken this past weekend when I went to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for my niece’s bridal shower.  My sister-in-law, her sister, and I had just picked up a fruit arrangement from Edible Arrangements.  It was a large arrangement of fruit assembled to look like a floral bouquet.  The car was packed to the gills with presents and food we were taking to the shower.  The only spot to put the arrangement was on my lap on the passenger side in front.  As we were driving to the shower, I started reading the cardboard tray into which the fruit had been placed:  “For safety sake, place the arrangement away from passengers, preferably in the trunk.  Never place it on someone’s lap.  The arrangement contains many sharp skewers that, in the event of an accident, could seriously injure someone.”  Yikes!  I thought.  If the airbag goes off, I’m a gonner!

About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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32 Responses to Shouldn’t We Be Dead By Now?

  1. jsh0608 says:

    I think that is why I’m such a worry wart…I read magazines, I watch the news, I see Dr. Oz and boom I’m scared to do anything. Like my hubs and I are trying to have a baby and might soon have to start fertility treatments. And Dr. Oz said that these women have a higher risk for ovarian cancer…well that is just great so now im super scared. Darn all you warnings…it’s a bittersweet kinda thing.

    • comingeast says:

      I know! But what are you supposed to do? Do you not want to know and risk doing something harmful that could have been avoided? Or is it better not to know some things and enjoy life more? I think there has to be balance. As for you, don’t just listen to Dr. Oz (I’m sure you don’t), but get other expert opinions and take whatever precautions you reasonably can, but then get on with your life and start those treatments if that’s what you need. I’m wishing you the best!

  2. dana says:

    yes, the more we know, the more careful we are, and the less fun we have. But once you realise there is a danger, you can not dismiss it, especially when it may hurt your children.

  3. ldsrr91 says:

    Very well said, it kept me spellbound to the very end.

    Nice work.


    • comingeast says:

      I’m sure you could add some more dangers you’ve discovered yourself. Now I’m worried about all the cell phone use and what it might be doing. Will it never end? You just have to laugh! Thanks for your comment.

  4. Evelyn says:

    well, isnt that ridiculously scary. ha!

    • comingeast says:

      You can make yourself crazy from worrying about everything! My daughter just informed me that she and her kids will continue to eat raw cookie dough. I just have to let it go!

  5. Erika Simone says:

    As someone who was born in the 90´s, I found this post hilarious. I got to watch people get more and more paranoid in the US and Canada but, in Mexico, lived the carefree childhood older generations had had.
    Ride without a seatbelt? Most vehicles didn´t even have any. Eat dirt? Absolutely! Swim while it´s raining? Why not?

  6. flatland57 says:

    What a hoot! And how true. I’m a boomer too, and it is amazing to think of the horrors that we have somehow survived! We’re so inundated w/ conflicting information that I’m beginning to wonder just what to believe anymore. Certainly not any medical information because it will be reversed in short order. Information about the world we live in always requires further investigation into the source of the material, to see why anything is being said, and why. Your post was fun to read, as well as insightful. Thanks.

    • comingeast says:

      I’m too much of a worrywart, my daughter says. She continues to let her kids eat raw cookie dough, despite my warnings! What’s a mother to do? Thanks for your comment.

  7. huffygirl says:

    I’ve done all of those things and survived as well. I still eat cookie dough and would drink out of a hose if I had to. I guess ignorance if bliss and it’s a wonder we all survived into adulthood.

    BTW – maybe you mean melanin (the pigment that makes us tan) instead of melatonin (the hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles) – unless you’re talking about sleeping in the sun that is. 🙂

  8. Margie says:

    I think society is so caught up on avoiding risk that they forget that risk is part of what makes life valuable.
    When my daughter was sick, her platelet count was way down. Ideally, she should never have left the hospital because she was at high risk for uncontrolled bleeding. We weighed the risk against the benefit of giving her a few hours of freedom from the hospital each day, and chose freedom. It was a calculated risk that paid off.

    • comingeast says:

      I’m so glad that worked out for you! It’s good to be informed, but sometimes I think we know so much that it makes us too fearful, and that’s no way to live. Thanks, Margie.

  9. judithhb says:

    Oh goodness. Aren’t we lucky to have survived. When we lived in Scotland we would make a bed in the back of the car for the children to sleep when we drove to London some 12 hours away; no car seats for children just a canvas seat with two hooks to clip onto the back of the passenger seat; no bike helmets; children helping to plant bulbs with as much earth in their hair and fingers (and mouths) as possible.
    I used to slather myself with olive oil – yikes we use that for cooking – and yes did get a melanoma thankfully caught very early.
    It is a wonder we survived. And my grandchildren do love the unbaked cake mixture – hadn’t considered the raw eggs.
    Thanks for the wake up call.

    • comingeast says:

      Uh, oh. Didn’t mean to give you one more thing to worry about! My daughter still lets her kids lick the bowl, in spite of my warnings, and they’re all healthy. Maybe I worry too much. And I know we’re all so much safer with seat belts, so I wouldn’t want to go backwards there. But it was so nice to not worry about everything when we were younger. Maybe our parents worried about things, though, that we weren’t aware of. Thanks, Judith.

  10. E.C. says:

    I know what you mean, life sure was alot less complicated once-upon-a-time. I’m so cautious now that I fear my Grandchild and the other little ones in my life will think me an old prude. But I think they understand that it’s important to put Safety first.

    • comingeast says:

      I think we worry more about our children’s and grandchildren’s safety than our own. We threw caution to the wind, but we don’t want to take chances with their lives.

  11. I can absolutely relate to everything you said. I started tanning in March, sure it was still cool but I got out there with the baby oil and by May I had a good tan going. We rode in the back on the top of the backseat sleeping on trips, no seatbelts. One thing I’ve yet to understand is that there still aren’t seatbelts on school buses. I guess there must be reasons I’m not aware of but it seems strange.

    We went outside in the morning and often didn’t check in until late afternoon. If I don’t hear from my 21 year old son for a few hours I chew him up one side and down the other. Times have changed. Loved this post.

  12. Robin says:

    I still live dangerously (licking the spoon when I make a batter, eating raw cookie dough, and heading outside for 20 minutes or so without sunscreen just to get my daily Vitamin D). 🙂

    • comingeast says:

      My brother’s doctor has him take extra Vitamin D because he wears so much sunscreen, he isn’t getting any! Now we’re being told that it might be dangerous to use your cell phone unless you use blue tooth or use the speaker phone so you don’t have to place the phone next to your head. Wonder what other dangers lurk around the corner for us?

  13. oldereyes says:

    I love this post especially your story about the edible arrangements. And ditto to your childhood stories, especially the baby oil and iodine to get a tan. I was a lifeguard as a teen and always dark brown. My Inner Curmudgeon tends to scoff at how cautious everyone is … especially Mom’s with their kids ,,, but I try to land somewhere in the middle: I don’t drink from the hose but I don’t wipe my shopping cart handle with sanitizer either.

  14. mypajamadays says:

    We still eat raw cookie dough. I just can’t help it…so yummy!

  15. Who knew fruit could be dangerous?

    It is incredible I’m still alive today. I tell my kids when I buckle them into their carseats that there was a time when my brothers and I used to LAY DOWN in the back of the station wagon on long trips. My dad would put us back there with a pillow and a blanket. We drove from Maine to Florida the entire way like that. And bike helmets? Please, I rode with my younger brother up on the handlebars most of the time. We did actually end up crashing once at the bottom of a big hill, we were covered with cuts and bumps but we toughed it out. Gave us character. 😉

    • comingeast says:

      I completely forgot about the way we drove from Connecticut to Ohio every summer until your comment reminded me. My dad actually made a platform level with the back seat and padded it with blankets so the three of us could lie down or play games for the fourteen hours it took us to get there. Amazing! I’m sure there will be many other dangers we don’t know about today that will surface next week or next year to make us feel even more amazed we’ve made it this far! Thanks for your comment.

  16. This is funny but so true — I know exactly what you mean about hidden dangers…. and as one who DID get skin cancer (melanoma, thank GOODNESS caught very very early) I can really relate to this post. Sometimes it seems like we go over the top and get way too much information, but I guess that’s one of the realities of modern life. I wonder how many bad things it’s really saved us and others from…. hmmm. Great & funny post!

    • comingeast says:

      I’m so glad your melanoma was caught early. That is scary stuff! I’m happy we have the information now so young people don’t do the dumb things we did, but you’re right—some times we get way too much info and are afraid of everything. Thanks for your comment, Julia.

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