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September 26, 2022

Oort Cloud Oddities: Mad cow

By Alexandra Queen

There is a critical blood shortage in the San Joaquin Valley.

You may not be aware of this, but my husband John, who knows a lot of vampires and lawyers, has been hearing a lot about it. Being the kind of man he is, not only did John go down to donate blood, but he also managed to guilt several family members into going with him. The line that finally convinced my dad to leave the comfy chair was "Democrats are all a bunch of blood-hoarding hippies." The line that got me was "free pint of ice cream".

John and I actually give blood on a semi-regular basis -- not as often as we could, perhaps, but certainly more often than I clean out the bedroom closets. I've given blood often enough to almost become accustomed to that long list of scandalous questions they ask you in the screening process. The first time I donated blood, they asked me if I had done things I'd never even heard of before. Note to people who have never donated blood: the phlebotomists aren't willing to go into sordid details, so don't ask them how one goes about actually doing any of the things they ask you about. However, as a drug-free individual who has never paid for anything illegal or biblically known any goats, I've always been able to pass their test.

Imagine then, my husband's embarrassment -- and the looks my dad and I gave him -- when he met us outside the screening area and had to say he failed.

"Drugs?" my father asked while I imagined myself late at night, driving from goat farm to goat farm, looking for my husband's car.

"No, I was on a military base in Turkey during a specific time frame. They asked if I had ever been in England, Scotland, Germany, Greece or Turkey and I had to say yes to all of them. They won't take my blood."

"Were you doing drugs there?" my dad asked while I wondered how I was supposed to compete with the charms of a Turkish goat.

"No, I guess some of the beef in the area at that time might have been contaminated..."

"You have Mad Cow Disease??" my father and I shouted at once, drawing the attention of the entire waiting room.

An attendant decided it was high time to take us aside and explain in a little more detail. Apparently they don't mind doing it for the Mad Cow and West Nile Virus issues, but don't expect a tutorial when it comes to the goats. Anyway, given the recent health concerns, all blood is being screened for West Nile Virus, which large numbers of people have without knowing about. However it seems they're not entirely sure how to screen for Mad Cow disease, and so have recoursed to refusing blood from people who were in certain countries or on military bases at times when known contaminated meat was available on the local menus.

"Well, it's not like he's foaming at the mouth and staggering," I tried to point out to the nurse.

"He does that all the time," my dad contradicted me. "Every time he tries to talk politics. He's a republican. They all do that."

"That's because the democrats want to legalize everything on the questionnaire we just answered," my husband shot back.

"Here are your certificates for free ice cream," the attendant interrupted them, hastily herding us out the door.

John was a little depressed as he waited with us for our turn to give blood. While my dad grinned and made "mooing" sounds at him, I tried to cheer him up. "Look at the bright side. If people at work start giving you flack, you can just get all wild eyed and start to drool and tell them, 'Don't mess with me! I got the Mad Cow!'"

"So much for my plans to sell him for dog food," my dad shook his head.

"So much for my plans to go to Japan for our next vacation," John added glumly.

I was thoughtfully regarding the coupons for ice cream. They say you can't get mad cow disease from milk products, but it still struck me as a little counter-productive. No wonder there's a blood shortage. Between all the people bitten by mosquitoes and guilty of eating a hamburger at the wrong time and place, there probably aren't many uncontaminated sources of blood left. And they're encouraging those that are to go eat cow by-products? I flipped the coupon over to see if you got extra ice cream at store locations near pools of stagnant water. You don't, but with the coupon your goat can get free needles at most medical clinics. Score!

Article © Alexandra Queen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-02-21
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