• Got hookworms?

    Nothing, and I mean nothing in my 20s would have prepared me for 47.

    Yesterday, I found myself standing in line at the checkout stand behind many clever-looking older hipsters at the Co-op in Davis. I was in work slacks, slick shoes, my hair down, wearing a black and white synthetic pullover from Chico’s. Most of the shoppers sported naturally dyed hemp and cotton, no make-up and comfortable shoes. By appearance alone, I was not in my demographic. But like some, I was in my work clothes, dressed to infiltrate corporate America.

    In their carts, organic carrots, Kombucha, quinoa, broccoli and organic, free-range chicken. In mine, alcohol-free beer and prenatal vitamins.

    I wondered if I looked like one of those desperate, close to 50 Octo-mom, environmental terrorist types who is desperate for her own television show.

    I caught the very British sounding man glancing at my maybe-baby belly then another furtive look at my face. His eyebrow raised, then he maintained strict eye contact with the teller.

    I wonder if he mistook my nervous energy for pregnancy smugness…

    At least if I’m going to have a baby at 48, it won’t have fetal alcohol syndrome…

    When it was my time through the checkout, the lady scanned my membership card and put my beer and vitamins on the conveyor belt.

    “Visa or debit?” she asked.

    “Debit” I replied.

    She didn’t read the labels, but the bagger did.

    “Interesting combination,” she said.

    Red wine, chocolate and cucumbers is a weird combination. Astro-glide and rutabagas is a weird combination. A 2 a.m., store run for duct tape and batteries is a weird combination. I think she meant that I was the weird part of that combination.

    My combination was the somber mix I need to compensate for my current meds. I take something that doesn’t combine with alcohol, and I’m anemic.

    After researching the aisle for 20 minutes and finding a gaggle of vitamins with low or no iron, I gave up and decided to try my Dada skills of walking aimlessly around the store. This is easy to do at the Co-op. I landed on the prenatal vitamin aisle and started reading labels. The prenatals offered the daily dose of iron plus folic acid and herbs. I headed over to the beer aisle. It was glorious. The Co-op has the most impressive beer selection within a day’s drive of my house. I found an alcohol-free six-pack of Guinness and headed for the checkout stand.

    I’m on the new meds, in a way, because I am too chicken to try hookworms.

    You heard me. Hookworms.

    I heard the theory on NPR that people in third world countries with hookworms don’t get auto-immune diseases or asthma. The theory is that the hookworms release something that calms the immune system, which stabilizes the intestinal environment for the hookworm . And I was almost willing to give it a try, but when I advertised that I was looking for hookworms, nobody came forward. I’m sticking with pre-natals and fake beer for now. Because nothing, and I mean nothing, says desperate to feel better than a quest for hookworms.

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