the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

Only in "Amerike" (America) do drugstores make the "krank" (ill) walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions for gout while healthy people can buy cigarettes at "der fornt" (the front).

A "elter" (senior) kumt tsum doktor un baklogt zikh. (A senior citizen comes to a doctor and complains.) "Ikh hob groys tsores," he says. (I have big problems.)
"Der finger fun fus" (toe) hurts.

"Siz poshut," enfert der doktor.
(It's simple," answers the doctor.)

"It's gout!"

England's King Henry VIII had gout. So did Louis XIV of France, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, and U. S. presidents, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt. Basketball All Star and head coach of the Philadelphia '76ers, Maurice Cheeks also suffered from "der krankayt" (the disease).

Picture the corpulent ("zaftik") aristocratic men fasting on rich food and port. There were cartoons ("karikatur pas") published
in the 18th and 19th centuries illustrating well known people with big "bandazhs" (bandages) on their feet and their foot up on a stool. This was a sign that the person had gout. Gout stools and bath chairs specifically designed so that the foot could be elevated were fashionable among the "spa set."

Gout was once called the "disease of kings."
Nowadays it is a disease of "geveyntlekh" (ordinary) people. The number of cases of gout have at least doubled in the last few decades.

What are the symptoms of gout? Some patients report waking up in the middle of the "nakht" (night) feeling as though their joint--often the big "finger fun fus" (toe)--is on fire. (The Yiddish word for joint is "gelenk.") This intense "veytik" (pain) is the result of a buildup of the compound uric acid in the joint. The joint becomes painful or swollen ("geshvoln"), and can become "royt" (red) and shiny.

What causes gout? Gout is often associated with food ("esnvarg") and drink. Drink too little "vaser" (water)--or too much alcohol-- and you run the risk of increasing uric-acid levels in your body. Eat foods rich in purine, and your risk of having an attack is increased.

What foods should one avoid? dried beans and peas, game meats, gravy, certain fishes (anchovies, herring, mackerel, sardines), liver, and mushrooms. Bran and wheat breads are also on the list.

Eating lots of "fleysh" (meat) and shellfish, drinking too much alcohol--especially "bir" (beer)--and being overweight, can cause gout. Cherries have traditionally been RECOMMENDED to gout sufferers.

There's a cookbook with the whimsical name, "The Gout Lover's Cookbook" by Jodi Schneiter. The book was filled with fatty dishes that any person afflicted with gout should avoid. She soon found out there's nothing funny ("komish") about gout. Cookbook orders flowed in...and so did letters asking, "Where are the recipes for the gout?"

Schneiter stopped selling the "kokhbikher" (cookbooks), and sent notes to customers and bookstores saying, "This is probably what your customer does not want. They probably have gout and probably want the opposite ("der heypekh"). In 1999, she self-published "The Gout Hater's Cookbook."

And so, for gout sufferers, there's a parody, written by pkbites:


It makes me shout!
This is the pain I can live without.
come on.
I'm limping in shoes.
Come on.

In better times,
You shouldn't have to, live with the fear.
It's shiny,
I really really want a cold beer.
But my swollen toe,
Says kiss booze goodbye.
Along, with all, the good foods I know.

Ive got GOUT!
It's making me shout!
GOUT! my feets swelled up,
GOUT! My toe's sticking out.
Come on! I'm crying boo-hoo.
Come on!
Its changed, my life.
And in return, turned it to hell.
As hot, as flame.
Everytime I walk/I yell:
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe agrees that
"Gezunthayt iz beser vi krankhayt."
(Health is better than illness.) Now,
"Lomir redn fun freylikher zakhn."
(Let's talk about more cheerful things.)


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N O P Q R S T U V W   Y Z
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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