Dear Ray: Awhile ago you answered a reader’s question about side-stitches that was equally informative and made me laugh so hard I spit coffee all over my computer screen!! I was looking for it to show my Girlfriend (whom has been battling side-stiches since she started running) and could not find it! Did you delete it!?
Yes, I did delete it, just recently. But here it is again:
Dear Ray Harvey: I’m a fellow who exercises regularly. As a result, I often find myself the victim of a multitude of aches and pains, including these peculiar shooting pains in my balls. Without a doubt, though, the pain that plagues me most are side aches. What ARE these things?
Dear Doubled Over: The side stitch is a mysterious thing. One theory, by far the most commonly accepted these days, is that side aches are the result of the diaphragm going into a state of what some call tetanic contraction, which is basically another of these generic terms that means next to nothing. When we inhale, our lungs fill with air. This in turn presses downward upon the diaphragm. Exhaling brings the diaphragm back up, so that if there’s any trapped air below the diaphragm, the diaphragm will cramp on the right-hand side. This same sort of cramping can also come about if food is consumed just before exercising.
There are a number of ideas about how best to prevent the side stitch — among them: take deep, deep belly breaths; eat more calcium; warm up gradually; strengthen the lower back and the midsection; avoid running downhill; avoid eating before exercise. But this is mostly just talky-talky, with probably not a hell of a lot of truth to it. Plenty of people, for instance, get side aches on their left-hand side, or even on both sides simultaneously. I know because I happen to be one of these people, as you can see. Additionally, plenty of people eat and drink immediately before exercising, or even during exercise, and yet never get side stitches. Also, many people run downhill and do not get them. In short, sir, I’m afraid you’re on your own.
Dear RayHarvey: I have heard that a clam without a shell grows into a huge phallic-looking creature that would horrify and intimidate people who are not usually horrified or intimidated. Can you verify? If true, is this reaction indicative of an underlying psycho-sexual issue and is it in any way related to aversion to Tom Jones?
Dear ShyButIntrigued: I’m afraid it’s true. The clam you reference is called a Geoduck clam — pronounced “gooey-duck,” not “gee-oh-duck.” The Geoduck clam is a species of Panope generosa, a large saltwater clam native to the northern Pacific coasts of Canada and the United States. These clams sometimes live in excess of 100 years, residing limp and large deep, deep within the moist sand of ocean beaches.
They are very difficult to catch, but when you find yourself with one in hand, they as often as not become rigid, and ejaculate a viscous discharge that smells not unpleasantly of the ocean salt.
These remarkable creatures feed on smaller sea creatures, and, despite their peculiar appearance and their elusive quality, they are dug up and shipped to China, whereupon they are cooked and eaten with relish, like so many hotdogs.
The name “Geoduck” — pronounced, I repeat, “gooey-duck” — ostensibly has its origins in a Native American pidgin, called Chinook, and comes from the Chinook word for “to penetrate deeply.” Coincidentally enough, this word has penetrated the English language (albeit rather flaccidly) and has indeed, like the bivalve itself, found a curious kinship with the bearded clam.
As for Tom Jones, the answer is an emphatic No; it is not indicative of any underlying psycho-sexual issues — please don’t worry about that — and the only way I can explain the curious cross-connection you make is by something like this:
Dear Ray Harvey! You are a true friend to the workingman, such as me. Your book Leave Us Alone should be required reading in our schools.
Don’t you get sick and tired of capitalism being everyone’s escape goat, like I do? The halls of congress are crowded with representatives of the “X” industry, saying The “X” industry is sick and dying. The “X” industry must be saved!! Only tariffs and subsidies can save the X industry, and if the X industry dies, workers will be thrown out onto the streets. But if congress acts promply (LOL!!) the X industry can be saved, and then it will buy equiptment from other industries, and more men will be employed. But congress once tried to “save silver” in just such a way to “help the East” when one of its results was to force China into deflation and force China off that basis? The United States Treasury was forced to acquire hoards of unnecessary silver to store in its vaults, at ridiculous prices, the essential aims of the “silver senators” achievable at a fraction of the harm by the payment of the frank subsidy to the mine owners or to there workers. But congress would never have approved a naked steal of this sort unaccompanied by ideological flimflam regarding “silver’s essential role in the currency” as with the Guffey Act under which the coal mines (in which I work) were not permitted but compelled to conspire together to NOT sell below fixed minimum prices fixed by the government. Though congress had started out to fix “the” price of coal, the government soon found itself (because of different sizes, 1000s of mines, and 1000s of different destinations by rail, truck, and barge) fixing 350,000 separate prices for coal! One affect this had of trying to keep coal prices above the competitive market prices was to accelerate the tendency by consumers toward the substitution of other energy sources such as natural gas and oil. If people didn’t expect to be feed off the government “teet” all the time this wouldn’t happen, I feel. Don’t you?