Cotton Balls and Cramps

I was never really good at Chemistry. Better at it than at Biology, but still not exceptional. Granted, I earned an A when I took Chemistry in college, but this was from Kirkwood, which doesn’t have the highest academic prestige, so the A was easily achieved without completely understanding the material. The same goes for Biology. That being said, I may not have the fullest understanding of acids and bases and things breaking down. (In fact, if the previous sentence really makes no sense, that’s probably why. I was just trying to throw the words out to sound intelligent.)

I’m also the type of person that, if you tell me to do something (you don’t even have to dare me, really) and it’s not against my morals and is unlikely to cause a fatality, I’ll probably do it. I’m always up for checking off experiences from my “Things To Do Before I Die” list. That certainly explains my black nails right now.

Last night, we celebrated the Finnish holiday of Pyhäinpäivä (PUH-HAH-IN-PIE-VAH). The American equivalent would be All Saints’ Day, but while All Saints’ Day is always on November 1st, Pyhäinpäivä is on the first Saturday between October 31st and November 6th. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Last night wasn’t Saturday. That’s very perceptive of you. We just realized this morning that Griffin actually gave us the wrong day to celebrated the beloved holiday of our ancestors, but we will try to forgive him. At any rate, since we didn’t get to celebrate Pyhäinpäivä last Saturday, we decided to celebrate it last night, the 6th, by watching The Office and performing several Finnish traditions with a large group of people.

It was a fantastic turnout. We had seventeen people show up to a celebration that they had never even heard of. During the commercial breaks of The Office, we muted the volume and partook together in the completely made up Finnish festivities that Dave, Gabe, and myself had thought up and planned just an hour before the party started. Such festivities included, but were not limited to the following:

  • As is custom, the host must advise all invited guests to bring their own eggs. At the celebration of Pyhäinpäivä, all guests must laugh at anyone who actually brings their own eggs. This ceremony is in commemoration of King Albert’s (of Mecklenburg) practice of sending out edicts via carrier chicken.
  • The oldest male must eat a cotton ball in memory of our ancestors that, in the Finnish blight of 1728, had to ingest their bedding and pillows to survive.
  • All guests must pass the flaming grease cup. This symbolizes the flame of unity and also reminds us of an old Finnish legend in which a crew of sailors were caught at sea during a long December. The crew was forced to burn their stores of bacon and butter for warmth to survive and was able to outlast the winter. The cup of grease must be passed counterclockwise, each person saying to the person to their right what they would give them for Christmas, if they could give them anything.
  • One volunteer, or victim chosen at random if no one should volunteer, must perform the traditional Finnish dance to keep the spirits at bay for the coming year. Since the traditional Finnish dance has long since been forgotten, the volunteer must improvise interpretively. The person must volunteer without knowing what they are agreeing to do, thus symbolizing the stark bravery of Finnish dancers.
  • A song must be sung to commemorate the coronation of King Valdemar of the house of Bjelbo. The original melody has long since been forgotten, so any song that is well known, radio-worthy, and at least nine years old may be sung. And, in light of King Valdemar’s decree regarding the Great Minstrel Hunt of 1264, the song must be sung a capella by all guests present.
  • There was a chicken virus that went around in Finland in 1355. At that time, whenever someone ate anything made out of eggs, they weren’t sure if the egg had been infected or not. The chance taken in eating things made with eggs is represented by a game of chance referred to as “Never Have I Ever” or, in Finnish, “Koskaan Olen Koskaan.” All guests must form a circle, placing an egg on the ground in front of them. One person says something that they have never done, and anyone in the circle who has done that thing must spin their egg. If the egg stops spinning while it is pointing at the person who spun it, they are officially out of the game. The last person remaining collects all the eggs at the end of the game.
  • The Finnish are known especially for two things: Their love of unity and friendship, and their exceptional hip-grabbing ability. To celebrate, all members present must participate in an impromptu conga line from the party’s locale to the nearest seller of overpriced goods, through their place of business, and back to the party.

I offered Ryan a rolly-polly baby Panda for Christmas, Shannon performed the interpretive dance, we sang Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in memory of King Valdemar, and I happened to be the oldest male present. So I ate a cotton ball. Not just any cotton ball, mind you, but probably the largest one in the bag; it was dark and I just reached in and grabbed one, but it happened to be enormous. After mustering up all my gumption, I stuck the cotton ball in my mouth and started salivating to get it wet enough to slide down my throat. It took me quite a while, but finally I tried swallowing. It got stuck half way. I grabbed the nearest cup of Mountain Dew and forced the cotton ball the remainder of the way into my stomach. There was much rejoicing, and I took my seat again as The Office came back on.

Had I paid closer attention in my aforementioned Community College classes, I might have known that the acids in your stomach can’t actually break down cotton for some reason (which leaves me thoroughly unimpressed with my own stomach), and I may have been more wary of eating a cotton ball. As it was, I simply thought it would digest and there would be no problems.

This morning I woke up with horrendous cramps (on top of an already very upset stomach) and a terrible headache. I tried sitting up in bed, but that seemed to hurt too much, so I just laid there for a very long time, eventually skipping my first class.

So let this be a lesson to all of you! I know Buddy eats cotton balls in Elf, and it looks like fun and that he doesn’t suffer any consequences from his actions. But. Trust me. He does! Your stomach, intestines, and basically any part of your digestive tract don’t get along well with cotton balls.

See what you missed out on last night, Jon McGill?