My wife had a mysterious stomachache. Mysterious to me, at least, because she’s a woman. Like most men I have no idea how women work; I’m used to the easy-to-diagnose male stomachache.
Wife: Did you drink too much beer?
Wife: Did you eat too many hot peppers?
Wife: Did you shoot yourself in the stomach with a nail gun to show your buddies how tough you are?
Wife: Was it worth it?
See? Guys are simple; we do something stupid and feel pain. The same goes for our fingers. The answer to “how did you hurt your fingers?” usually involves the word “hammer.”
But my wife’s pain? Gosh, she’s never even used a nail gun. It could be anything, like a tapeworm, too many sweets, an incubating space alien, or even crazier, she might be –
“Are you pregnant?” our 12-year-old daughter asked.
“I am not pregnant,” my wife said fast enough to disprove several of Einstein’s theories of space-time with her own E=mcShutUpI’mNotPregnant2.
Whew. That’s a relief. For a second I considered weeping openly.
“Then why does your stomach hurt?” our daughter asked, smirk included. She’s at that age.
So, the stomachache was still a mystery, but much like that time in college when someone dumped all the trash cans down the dorm’s stairwell, we didn’t need to know why it happened, whose fault it was, or why I ran from the scene. All we needed to do was fix it.
“You need Tums,” I said.
“Do we have any?” my wife asked.
“How about Alka-Seltzer?”
She crossed her arms. My wife looks so cute when she gets frustrated with me. She looks cute a lot. “Do we have anything for a stomachache?”
“To cause one?” I asked.
“No. The opposite.”
I shrugged. “Not really.”
So, she walked into the kitchen and took shots of apple cider vinegar.
My wife is convinced apple cider vinegar can do anything. Maybe she’s right. According to certain sites that may, or may not, be on the Dark Web, apple cider vinegar can lower blood sugar, decrease the risk of prostate cancer, soothe a sore throat, make a vinaigrette dressing, clean shower heads, help with weight loss, cure skin diseases, arm photon torpedoes on Federation starships and soothe an upset stomach.
Hmm. You don’t say.
But there are plenty of other home remedies for stomachaches that don’t involve cleaning showerheads, like sucking on a peppermint candy, drinking green tea and eating a ripe banana. One my mom always swore by was Windsor Canadian and Diet Pepsi.
No. Wait. That was for something else.
Mom used a teaspoon of baking soda mixed into a cup of water.
“How’s that vinegar treating you?” I asked.
So, I handed her Mom’s recipe and she drank it. One second passed, then two, then she ran for the bathroom.
Vinegar? Baking soda? We had created a middle school science fair volcano in my wife’s stomach.
I swear I didn’t know that would happen.
Jason Offutt’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters: 251 Creatures, Cryptids, and Hairy Beasts,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.