Kage Baker always maintained that her blood got thicker in the winter – like maple syrup. In logical corollary, she insisted it got thin again in the spring.
This is a popular old bit of folk wisdom, of course, which has persisted for millennia. Liquids do change in the cold: tree sap gets thick and slow, water goes syrupy on its way to freezing, blood in a dead person – who is obviously cooling – clots. It clots in a wound, too, which has opened up the cozy warm insides of a person. It’s a belief hallowed by time and common sense observations, and like a lot of common sense observations, it’s WRONG.
Kage knew it was crap; she just insisted on it to make me crazy. Sisters have a lot of weird things like that – customs that are partly jokes, partly warfare, and partly OCD … it’s a special kind of game, with specific rules. It’s been played with skill and finesse in my family all our lives. This is one of the things that happens with your father can’t say NO to door to door salesmen, and you grow up with 7 sets of encyclopedias in the house.
Kage also maintained that raw potatoes gave you tularemia, a fiction she developed as a defensive maneuver when I convinced her that possums and opossums were two different species. The goal of the game here is to unsettle your victim’s convictions to the point where she gives in and actually looks the nonsense up – if she does, you win. And any winning weaponized “fact” can then be trotted out again and again to make your sister shriek. Thus, Kage speculated mordantly every time I ate crudites, reducing me to that ultimate retort, “Oh, screw you!”
The addition of the Internet to our lives has only made us worse. I have friends who look askance at any exotic fact I share with them, simply because I have so often fed them a line of total nonsense. They only listen because I do know lots of odd things, and I might be honest … this time. This is a very useful skill for a fiction writer, by the way, and Kage was not only the Queen of Search Engines but the Evil Empress of Insane Factoids …
The blood thinning/thickening thing was a frequent excuse for seasonal indulgences with Kage, too. Spicy foods would thin her winter-thickened blood, she maintained – therefore, she needed tacos. Or absinthe. Or rum, which is evidently the real universal solvent. In summer heat, ice cream could be invoked to give necessary body to her thinning blood. And chocolate just fixed everything, restoring all bodily humours to their most effective consistency.
There may be some truth to that last one. Chocolate is testing out as a panacea lately. I am quite sure, however, that hoodies with Jolly Rogers on them have no discernible effect on blood thickness. No matter what Kage insisted.
Here in Los Angeles, the weather has been quite lovely lately. And fairly odd. The days have been warm and clear – it’s 79 degrees here on the edge of Griffith Park today, and we’ll be barbecuing hamburgers for dinner. However, the last several nights have dipped into the 30’s long enough for frost to form. The car windows have needed scraping every morning, and the bright new grass crackles underfoot. One hardly knows what to wear.
If Kage were here, her blood would be fizzing in her veins like a Christmas bubble light, frantically thinning and thickening. It would be just about to flash phase into an incandescent plasma, probably, and reflect off the backs of her corneas like candle flames.
It was all due to calcite crystals. Yep, calcite crystals. It’s why trilobites had laser eyes, you know.
(Caveat: I never lie to you, Dear Readers. Everything I tell you is the honest truth. The world is just a lot weirder than you ever suspected … )