Every generation invents new party tricks. Right now kids are challenging each other to choke down straight cinnamon, a whole spoon of it in one minute without any water, to produce an “orange burst of dragon breath.” We did the same thing with saltine crackers. I remember staring at my brother while he furiously chewed, and laughing right up until his crumbly spew plastered my face like salty snow. I was always the one to get nailed, because I had to sit really close to the prankster to see without my glasses. Plus, my other siblings were smarter about the consequences of their location.
(Wait! Now I get it! The butt of the saltine cracker prank is the moron closest to the chewer! I just figured this out while writing my flashback. Awesome.)
Anyway, the cinnamon swallowing kids are turing up in hospitals because they can’t breathe. Cinnamon is caustic, and often causes irritation and swelling in the airways. Last week I used cinnamon to get rid of ants in my beehive. It worked really well. Within an hour of sprinkling it in the hive and stacking cinnamon sticks around the hive, the ants disappeared and have not returned. Cinnamon is powerful stuff.
Now of course I’m worried that the spice might irritate the bees’ airways. I read about how bees breathe in Mark Winston’s book, The Biology of the Honey Bee, and learned that air comes in and out of honey bees through tiny holes in their bodies called spiracles. Could cinnamon block the spiracles? That would be terrible. Honey bees don’t have lungs. The air circulates though a series of tracheae and air sacs. I suppose the cinnamon could irritate those too. So far, the bees seem entirely unaffected by the cinnamon, except they’re no longer dodging ants.
Hard to say if I’d recognize the sight of a cinnamon-choked bee. I’m kind of unobservant when it comes to the effects of caustic powders on my charges. While my kids assure me they’ve never taken the cinnamon challenge, Fiona does confess to an occasional gorge on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. I always laugh at her description of popping these crimson colored snacks into her mouth and then chugging water to beat down the mouth fire. Sounds like innocent fun to me. But better parents have reportedly thought otherwise, and have rushed their kids to the ER after mistaking their kids’ glowing red poop for bloody stool. It doesn’t occur to me to look at my kids’ poop. And if I did, I certainly wouldn’t bother to take them to the ER just to waste hours of our lives together watching a parade of people who made bad life choices. (My friend is a nurse in the ER and once had to extract a potato from someone’s butt. She didn’t ask questions so I can’t answer the ones going through your head right now. You’ll have to imagine like I did. Trust me, this image won’t leave you as fast as you’d like. I’m sorry.)