Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thank you, Aunt Agatha

On the outside, Aunt Agatha looks like a trustworthy person. She has honest eyes, a kind smile, and a keen ability to pick up on disrespect. Especially when it's directed at her.

"Take these vitamins," she told me three weeks ago. "They'll make you feel good."

"What's in them?" I asked as she handed me the faded pink bottle.

"What is wrong with you, child?" she said. "They're prenatal vitamins. They're free. I'm giving them to you."

First of all, I was not pregnant. Second of all, the condition of the bottle led me to believe the vitamins were probably circa 1940. But I, who immediately realized the value of respecting my elders, knew not to ask questions. I thanked her and said goodbye.

A fight raged in my mind while I walked out the door. Keep the vitamins! the cheap part of my brain shouted. You won't have to buy any this month!

Bury them! the life-preserving but slightly less evolved part of my brain shouted. They can't be trusted!

There's only one way to settle this, I thought. Check the label for an expiration date.

To my surprise, the vitamins were still within range. Also to my surprise, Google said it was OK for a woman of child-bearing years, although not pregnant, to take prenatal vitamins.

That settled it. I was not buying vitamins this month. I would save myself $8.00.

Everything was OK until day 3, when my insides felt like they were made of concrete.

"I don't understand," I told my husband. "I've never had a problem with constipation."

"Let me see your vitamins," said the son of a doctor. "Yup. They have iron in them." He waved his hand as if this explained everything.

"Iron?" I asked. "No wonder I feel so bad. There are metal pellets working their way through my digestive track."

We've spent the past 3 weeks trying to get the iron out of my system. The doctor suggested prune juice as a mild laxative. Then he suggested 3 laxative pills, 3 times a day. Last I heard, he was talking about surgery.

"Thanks a lot," I told Aunt Agatha when she called to ask how I was feeling yesterday. "The vitamins have been a real money-saver."

"You're welcome," she said sweetly. "Anything I can do to help my niece."

1 bottle of vitamins: $8.00
32 bottles of prune juice: $190
6 bottles of laxatives: $18
Aunt Agatha feeling helpful: priceless

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I know all about waiting--for the right guy, for high school to end, for my boobs to come in (two out of three ain't bad).

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