Tuesday, April 08, 2008


If you've read "The Accidental Tourist", you'll remember that the weird characters played an even weirder game called "Vaccination." They made it up themselves, with complicated rules that constantly changed, and few outsiders could ever figure it out.

Welcome to the world of Pharmaceuticals and Modern Medicine.

For quite a number of years now, radicals and extremists have suspected vaccinations of causing all kinds of problems. The biggest ones? Auto-immune disorders.


Well, picture your white blood cells as a platoon of highly trained, restless, Alpha, macho Marines. Put them all in a locked room (your body) then give them nothing to do.

For oh, say, thirty or forty years.

Can anyone say "Stir crazy?"

Why, what happens next? I'm quivering with curiosity!

They get bored. Tired of looking at each other. Sick of each other's smell. Fed up with each other's jokes and strange characteristics. Intolerant of each other's politics, jealous of each other's talents, gifts, possessions. Feeling envy, paranoia...

Well, gee. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happens next.


But who do they have to fight?

Hmm. There's this innocent little colon sitting over there, seemingly minding it's own business. But it's probably up to no good. And look! A Liver that seems perfectly happy and healthy. Don't you hate that? No one should be happy if I'm not!

Such healthy, pink nerves along the spine...

The nerve!

Let's get it!

You know, the older I get, the less radical and extreme the radicals and extremists seem. Two people and two dogs in my family have auto-immune disorders. Yet, my immediate ancestors, and their freakin' pets, lived vaccination, and auto-immune disease, free, for eight, nine, ten decades apiece. Both sides of the family. Every other young family I know has at least one and probably two auto-immune disorders.

You do the math. I have. I think the Greatest Generation will also be the Longest Lived Generation.

But, you know, we're affluent.

Especially those who make, or give, vaccinations!

They watched the news, dutifully, and then they went out to the sun porch and sat at their grandparents' card table. They played something called Vaccination -- a card game they'd invented as children, which had grown so convoluted over the years that no one else had the patience to learn it. In fact, more than one outsider had accused them of altering the rules to suit the circumstances. "Now, just a minute," Sarah had said, back when she'd still had hopes of figuring it out. "I thought you said aces were high."

"They are."

"So that means--"

"But not when they're drawn from the deck."

"Aha! Then why was the one that Rose drew counted high?"

"Well, she did draw it after a deuce, Sarah."

"Aces drawn after a deuce are high?"

"No, aces drawn after a number that's been drawn two times in a row just before that."

Sarah had folded her fan of cards and laid them face down -- the last of the wives to give up.

Macon was in quarantine and had to donate all his cards to Rose. Rose moved her chair over next to his and played off his points while he sat back, scratching the cat behind her ears. Opposite him, in the tiny dark windowpanes, he saw their reflections -- hollow-eyed and severely cheekboned, more interesting versions of themselves.

The telephone in the living room gave a nipped squeak and then a full ring. Nobody seemed to notice. Rose laid a king on Porter's queen and Porter said, "Stinker." The telephone rang again and then again. In the middle of the fourth ring, it fell silent. "Hypodermic," Rose told Porter, and she topped the king with an ace.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the Accidental Tourist. All of Anne Tyler's books, really, but that's a particularly good one.

Vaccinations did pretty much eradicate polio and smallpox, but who knows what the long term affects are? I think nature is a zero-sum game. Nothing works only one way and everything balances in the end.

I think all we can do is love each other and hang on.


April 08, 2008 10:46 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

I wasn't thinking about smallpox when I wrote that. What I was thinking about was over-vaccinating and unnecessary vaccinations like chicken pox and rabies.

Apparently dogs that are vaccinated once for rabies are pretty much immune for life. Twice and it's like a 1 in 8 million chance of getting rabies.

The chicken pox vacc has always been a bugaboo for me.

But yeah, it seems to balance out no matter what we do.

April 09, 2008 8:39 AM  

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