Remember learning about history in K-12? I don’t remember much but when it comes to the first Thanksgiving a few images do come to mind. The following paragraph is pieced together relying solely on my recollections.
The Pilgrims and the Native Americans came together for a feast. The Pilgrims wore funny brown hats topped with a column adorned with a belt buckle. There was maize. There was jellied cranberry sauce featuring distinctive rings from an aluminum can. There was even pumpkin pie. There was a horn of plenty that provided a veritable cornucopia of magical fresh fruits and vegetables. And, of course, last but not least, there was turkey aplenty that looked a lot like simple outline drawings of my hand.
Have you ever experienced that moment when you realized history class left a lot of things out? It was decidedly not the place to go if you wanted the big picture. Or an unvarnished viewpoint free of bias that didn’t accentuate a certain narrative. No doubt there were time constraints or contractual obligations?
My exhaustive (you’ll get this pun after the jump) research turned up something else that was given to the Pilgrims. It wasn’t on the dinner table, perhaps, but I’m sure it was still something to be very thankful for.
Your clues so far: Smoke, bellows and exhaustive. Ready to take a stab at it?
I’m talking about, of course, the tobacco smoke enema. Happy Thanksgiving!
A wise man once said, “Know your enema,” and I think these Native American people knew what they were doing. They probably even had an answer to one of the great mysteries of life: What does the fox say? (They wisely kept that information to themselves.)
What is a tobacco smoke enema? Damn you for asking. It’s pretty much like it sounds like. According to Wikipedia, “tobacco was recognized as a medicine as soon as it was imported from the New World.” Yes, medicine. It was used to treat things like the cold and drowsiness.
But the Native Americans had a different use up their sleeves. “[A]pplying [tobacco smoke] by enema was a technique appropriated from the North American Indians.” Sometimes when you appropriate what you want you get more than you bargained for.
The special “technique” was intended to treat gut pain and resuscitate victims of near drowning. (No information is available on what they did with drowning victims far away.)
In the end, however, the practice fell out of favor. Or is that flavor? Either way, all good things must come to an end. (“End” twofer FTW!)
During the early 19th century the practice fell into decline, when it was discovered that the principal active agent in tobacco smoke, nicotine, is poisonous.
Don’t you hate it when good times get kicked to the curb just because of a little poison? Dammit.
As we all know, tobacco use quickly disappeared from our culture and it’s now little more than a historical footnote although it is still available in some parts of Virginia as a “boost” in Jamba Juice smoothies.
I tip my Pilgrim hat and give thanks to those who passed along this little nugget of wisdom.
Now you know the rest of the story. I hope you found this enlightening. I just wanted to make sure this was documented for posterior. I hope I didn’t make an ass of myself.
My recommendation for a Thanksgiving Hymn/Pairing Selection From the Chef: My Sycophant Others by NO/FX