One of my sisters is big on tinctures and such. Mention so much as a tickle in your throat and before you know it she’s ordering you to open your mouth so she can squirt some nasty drops of who-knows-what in there.
That happened to me last year when I was home for a visit and mentioned that I felt a cold coming on. Hearing this, my sister immediately administered a liquid herbal supplement called Kick-Ass Immune Activator that’s supposed to help you fight off whatever illness is trying to creep in. Or as manufacturer WishGarden Herbs puts it, “Kick-Ass before your ass gets kicked!”
According to the label on the bottle, you’re supposed to swallow “3–4 droppersful in a little water; repeat every 1–3 hours for a day or two, then taper off to 3–4 times a day.”
But my sister sprayed the stuff directly into my mouth. (Her version of Kick-Ass had the product’s “unique and convenient pump top bottle” rather than the kind with the little medicine dropper.)
The taste was so bitter it gave me the shivers. I felt better almost instantly.
Still, I’m not convinced the product works, even though it, well, worked. Given that dietary herbal supplements do not tend to undergo rigorous scientific scrutiny or receive FDA approval, it’s entirely possible we’re dealing with a combo of snake oil and the placebo effect here.
Curiously enough, that prospect does not trouble me a great deal. I do not see the difficulty in believing in something and believing it’s BS at the same time.
Take astrology, for example. You expect me to buy that the positions of stars and moons and planets have any influence on matters such as the personalities of the gazillions of people who have nothing in common apart from being born on the same date? What a load of crap.
But also: Give me a fire sign any day. We are clearly the best.
I see the lack of logic there, but, I mean, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, you know?
What I mean is that when I got back from that trip I bought my own bottle of Kick-Ass Immune Activator.
I’d like to think my capacity for skeptical superstition indicates that I have both a gimlet eye and an open mind—like, okay, I’ll try your natural remedy but I am not buying any crystals. I fear, however, that the actual explanation for my ambivalence has to do with a fundamental wishy-washiness in my character.
Certainty is simply not a specialty of mine, except in a few obvious cases (Murder and child abuse are wrong! he bravely averred). Part of me will always suspect Kick-Ass’s “proprietary extract blend” is a miracle cure, and part of me will always suspect it’s liquefied lawn clippings added to sambuca—not because I want to have it both ways, but because, when it comes right down to it, I can’t commit to either position.
Instead, I end up fruitlessly considering both sides without accomplishing anything except making everybody exasperated, sort of like a New York Times reporter covering Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016.
To be honest, the ideal product for me wouldn’t be called Kick-Ass. It would be called Half-Ass.