Thursday, August 08, 2002

It's just gross

Science of being an adult

        Good morning, my fellow repressed adults. Have you finished your bran muffin yet? Washed it down with the last drop of herbal tea?

        Good. I have things to discuss with you that probably would not be welcome at your breakfast table. Snot, for instance. Did you know that you swallow about a quart of it every day? Yes, this was news to me, too. There's more. Stomach acid is so strong it can eat up razor blades. During a lifetime, the average person sheds enough dead skin to fill eight 5-pound flour sacks and eats nearly 66,000 pounds of food. That's as big as six elephants. And this is not counting people who Biggie Size everything. They probably are a couple of elephants ahead.

The geezer factor

        These educational tidbits came from deep within the bowels — and I use the term advisedly — of the Cincinnati Museum Center's summer exhibit, “Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body,” which is breaking attendance records.

        For instance, last year's multimedia “Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park” drew about 60,000 visitors. The museum center's Kelly Rickenbaugh says more than 75,000 were expected for this one. Does that mean Cincinnati is 25 percent more interested in boogers than in fossils? Hard to say scientifically, but I'd bet the fun money is on Grossology.

        Not that I personally had any fun. I was appalled. Appalled.

        This is my responsibility, as an adult. Children should be sole proprietors of some of the things they cherish, and an avid interest in flatulence would be one of them. It must be frustrating for kids. Every time they discover something they like, some old poopyhead comes along and appropriates it.

        Little League Baseball comes to mind. Or even baseball caps. I guess kids saw one geezer too many with his cap on backward. Now they wear visors upside down and backward. It's a kid's job to be childish. And it's our job to disapprove. Otherwise matters may escalate. Body piercing might have stopped with a couple of extra earrings, if kids hadn't seen Wal-Mart greeters with heads full of metal.

        So, I glowered at Burp Man, who can be prompted by visitors to emit an impressive belch. (Note to children: do not try this at home or, worse, at Grandma's.) I scowled at the interactive sphincter. The kids didn't notice. They were busy. Learning.

        One little know-it-all, ahead of me in line for the Gastrointestinal Slide, told me urine is used in many countries to tan leather. Alarmed, I tried to get her to tell which ones, as I would not like to purchase a handbag made there.

        She couldn't — or wouldn't. Then she pointed to the sign that said I was too tall to slide down the GI tract. I got even by telling her exactly where she would exit. Science is not for sissies.

        Grossology runs through Sept. 2. Tickets cost $6.75 for adults, $4.75 for children. If you go with your kids, my advice is to be shocked, to look as disapproving as possible when you're standing in line at the Gas Attack pinball machine.

        Otherwise, you'll ruin the fun.

        E-mail Laura at



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