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Humor September 2019

Alive and Kidding

Debunking Some Old Wives' Tales

By Sally Breslin

False. The caffeine in coffee will help perk you up, but it won't reduce the amount of alcohol in your body. So, in essence, coffee will just make you a more wide-awake drunk.

One of the most fascinating things I learned on the Internet, however, was just how many of the old wives' tales I've faithfully believed all of my life actually aren't true. I thought it might be fun to compile a quiz of some of them so you can test your own knowledge. The answers appear at the end of the quiz.



  1. If you stop exercising, your muscle will turn to fat.
  2. Eating too much chocolate will give you acne.
  3. Flat ginger ale will help settle an upset stomach.
  4. Cats have been known to suck the breath out of babies.
  5. Black coffee helps you sober up.
  6. A dog with a hot, dry nose is sick.
  7. If you touch your poison-ivy blisters, you will spread the rash.
  8. Shaving hair makes it grow back thicker.
  9. Reading in dim light will ruin your eyes.
  10. Never take baths or showers or wash dishes during a thunderstorm.
  11. If you dream you are falling and you actually hit the ground in the dream, you will die in real life and never wake up.
  12. You should wait 30 minutes after eating before going swimming or you might develop severe cramps and drown.



  1. False. Muscle is muscle and fat is fat, and you can't turn one into the other. You might get fatter when you stop exercising, but that's because you're not burning as many calories so your fat cells are storing more fat, not because your muscle tissue is transforming into fat cells.
  2. False. According to one test-study conducted by dermatologists, people who were prone to getting acne were fed their weight in chocolate. They had an increase in tooth decay, but no dramatic increases in acne flare-ups.
  3. True! Beat the ginger ale until it no longer fizzes, and then drink it. Ginger has stomach-settling properties and is especially effective for motion sickness. Some experts say it works even better than Dramamine, and without any associated drowsiness.
  4. False. This old wives' tale is said to have started when cats were seen, often right in the cribs, with their mouths pressed to babies' faces. Sure, it looked suspicious, but what were these cats really doing? According to animal experts, they simply were licking all of the yummy milk residue from around the babies' mouths.
  5. False. The caffeine in coffee will help perk you up, but it won't reduce the amount of alcohol in your body. So, in essence, coffee will just make you a more wide-awake drunk.
  6. False. A hot, dry nose most commonly means the dog just has been inactive for a while –  sleeping, for example.
  7. False. The oil, urushiol, from the poison ivy's leaves is what spreads the rash. Once you thoroughly wash the oil from your skin and clothing, you no longer can spread it. The blisters merely contain fluid from your own body similar to when you burn yourself – which is not contagious.
  8. False. Your hair follicles remain the same thickness whether you shave them or not.
  9. False. Trying to read in poor light might give you eyestrain or a headache, but if you rest your eyes for about a half-hour, they should feel as good as new again.
  10. True! The National Weather Service urges the public to avoid showering, bathing or going near any water in general during a thunder and lightning storm. There is the possibility a lightning bolt might strike one of your home's water pipes and electrify the house, especially in the bathroom.
  11. alse. How could a person who died in such a manner tell anyone what he or she had been dreaming just prior to dying?
  12. True...and False. The experts still seem to be 50-50 on this one. Some believe that yes, cramps are possible due to digestion requiring an increase in the blood flow to the stomach and thus, depleting the muscles and causing cramping. Others, however, believe that muscle cramps are more likely to be caused by fatigue and/or dehydration, and the body has more than enough blood to sustain all of its areas, including the muscles. So eating even a big meal shouldn't negatively affect anyone's ability to go swimming immediately afterwards. But, as some would say, it's better to be safe than sorry.



11-12 correct: Congratulations! You're either a genius, or you don't know any old wives!

8-10 correct: Not bad! You have the ability to figure out the truth in most statements you hear!

5-7 correct: Average. You believe a lot of things you hear, but not all.

1-4 correct: A little too gullible. You firmly believe that if the old wives said them, then they have to be true! 


Sally Breslin is an award-winning humor columnist and the author of There's a Tick in my Underwear! Contact her at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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