Wiseacre (ewin) wrote,

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Poison Oak Rules

I got into an herbology website (J.K. Rowling has ruined my vocabulary forever, I'll never be able to call it "botany" again), and that led to me doing searches on poison ivy and poison oak, because I'm really not comfortable with my ability to identify them.  This is probably not that huge of an issue, as I go out into the wilderness about as often as a farmbred veal these days.  But anyway.  One site I found, which was entirely devoted to poison oak, posted the following rules, which amused me greatly:

Because Poison Oak is one of the worst afflictions mankind must suffer, there must be rules of etiquette for dealing with it.

If you have never had poison oak:
  • You may not joke about it.
  • You can not say, "Don't you know what it looks like?"
  • You may not offer your advice on how to treat it.
  • You must show nothing but sympathy, and if it is feigned it must seem genuine.
  • Absolutely no smirking!
  • You are not allowed to intimate that the person who has Poison Oak deserved it, or is afflicted due to incompetence on their part.
If you are immune:
  • All of the above rules apply to you.
  • You may never boast of your immunity, and especially never touch poison oak to demonstrate your immunity.  I heard of a man who ate a poison oak leaf to show off.  This is a justifiable motive for homicide.
  • If you can not follow the above guidelines, please kill yourself now.
If you have had poison oak:
  • You must show sympathy, and tell anecdotes about how bad you had it.
  • You may joke and laugh, as long as you make it known that you feel very deep sorrow at the affliction.
  • Feel free to imply that all immune people should be exterminated off the face of the earth.

I'm assuming that the rule about not offering advice for treatment has something to do with the fact that it doesn't take more than a half an hour to look up every possible home and prescribed remedy.  That's half an hour of real time, and roughly ten minutes of afflicted-with-Poison-Oak time.  (I respect their use of capitals.)

The bit about it getting into your bloodstream has been outed as a myth.  Yeah.  I kinda WANT that to be a myth.  It does seem to be true that a person who is immune can become sensitive through repeated exposure.  And the idea that poison oak is worse than poison ivy is debatable, apparently.

I kind of like some of the identification tips for poison ivy like, if you see thorns, it's probably a wild blackberry, NOT poison ivy.  Because, dude.  Poison ivy does Not.  Need.  Thorns.

I also like the theory about how the myth that smoking poison ivy can create an immunity to it was spread by vengeful Native Americans among the white men.  I'm not sure I'd be able to follow the etiquette completely for someone who got poison ivy or oak by smoking the stuff deliberately, although burning it is a pretty common error.

Urushiol, the toxic sap found in these plants, apparently makes a nice lacquer.

And if you want to know what got me off on the herbology tangent, go here and check out the Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook.  It falls prey to the flaws of the honest alternative medication practitioner, which is to say, he says stuff like, "Hey, this MIGHT work for you," a whole lot, but it's still very interesting.  And he does make a very good point about prune juice.

Hey, nature icon!
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