MAJOR ASHPOLE                                                                                                  


   I have a friend who takes about two dozen vitamin pills every morning.

   He says it’s like a celebration for his body.

   A celebration for my body is two scoops of Cherry Garcia and three hours in a well padded recliner.

   My friend looks healthy enough, but he’s always coming down with something, and then he takes more vitamins to fight off whatever he’s come down with.

   If the first group of vitamins works so well, why is he so susceptible to every rhinovirus that lumbers by?

   A vitamin is defined as a substance the body requires in order to function properly, but can’t produce on its own from other substances. 

   Is aggravation a vitamin?

   People seem to need aggravation and if they don’t get any they go looking for it.

   How else can you explain family vacations and Scrabble?

    There are about a zillion companies pitching “vitamin supplements” and none of them are shy about it.

   I think any time there are a lot of companies in the same business it’s because there’s easy money to be made, and that usually means someone’s getting screwed, and it’s usually you know who.

   I used to take vitamin pills.

   One brand turned my urine bright orange.

   I guess that’s kind of like a celebration. 

   It’s not exactly a Grucci fireworks display but it’s better than a box of Depends and a weak smile.

   Someone said I should try an all-herbal vitamin, and I did. 

   It was the size of a walnut, tasted like raw hay, and turned my urine a dull olive drab, like my father’s World War II army uniforms. 

   It reminded me of that great old ditty, “Yur’ in the army now!”

   Some vitamins are water soluble and some are fat soluble.

   Soluble means that’s what something dissolves in.

   My father used to drink his Irish Whiskey with water in a tall glass. 

   By the time he’d finished his third one, he’d pretty much melted into the easy chair, and I don’t know if that means he was water soluble, whiskey soluble, or naugahyde soluble.

   There’s plenty of evidence demonstrating that vitamin pill companies make piles of money, but there’s no research conclusively demonstrating that people who take vitamins are healthier or live longer than people who don’t.  One recent study of 161,808 women, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found no benefits at all for those who took multivitamins.

   In fact, every year, hundreds of people actually become ill or even die from taking too many vitamin pills.

   In the old days, that great dark age before “Centrum with Zinc and Calcium,” people lived a long time unless they got a disease or had an accident or answered “yes” when their wives asked them if that new dress made them look fat.

   No one died from too many vitamins. 

   Pneumonia, tuberculosis, Indian attacks, venereal disease, tainted well water, boredom, getting run down by a surrey with the fringe on top: sure.

   But not from vitamins.

   I stopped taking vitamin pills, and my kids tell me if I don’t start taking them again, I’m going to die before my time.

   My time is about three in the afternoon when I drift off to sleep without trying, although a Cherry Garcia calmative doesn’t hurt.

   I do it almost every day, I’m not dead yet, and I haven’t come down with rickets or scurvy, and I feel good about that.

   I have to admit I kind of miss my bright orange urine celebration, but some thrills in life just aren’t worth the risk.


Dear Major Ashpole,

   It’s about time someone blew the whistle on Scrabble.

   Have you ever noticed the look on people’s faces when someone says, “I know! Let’s play Scrabble!”?

   “Dread” doesn’t do it justice.  But everyone is too scared to admit they hate it because they don’t want to seem less than erudite.

   Is there anything more boring than sitting around waiting for someone to use their letters?  Or better still, how about when someone takes up a bunch of time, and only says, at the last second, “I’m going to exchange letters.”

   And it’s always the least talented player who ends up getting the chance to use the triple letter and triple word spaces when they have a Q or a Z.

   Thank you, Sir, for having the courage to expose this scourge on society.

Major Ashpole

Lake Ahgowanna

Mr. Major Ashpole

Five Lakes Heron

Dear Sir:

   Scrabble is a game that is enjoyed by millions of people around the world.

   Far from being a source of aggravation, Scrabble provides entertainment, challenge, positive mental stimulation, and brings people together for fun and learning.

    I would suggest, sir, that if you haven’t played Scrabble lately, that you reacquaint yourself, friends and family with what I know you will find to be one of the great joys in life.

Dusty Gaymes

Scrabble Defense Taskforce

Hasbro Toys

Dear Dusty,

   “One of the great joys in life”?

   I don’t care what your job description says:

   You need to get out more.


Dear Major Ashpole,

   Your column on vitamins is just the latest example of how the media promotes scientific myths.

  To correct your misstatement: It is physically impossible for someone to melt as the result of sitting in a naugahyde-upholstered chair.

   I mean, really, if you can’t get your facts straight, maybe you shouldn’t say anything at all.

Sarah Palin

America’s Sweetheart

All Over My Beloved U.S.A.

Dear Major Ashpole,

   At a time when drug use and obesity are on the rise, how can you promote Cherry Garcia ice cream as a tranquilizer, or promote any drug use at all?

   What kind of irresponsible public behavior is that?

Lindsay Lohan

Recovering Publicity Whore and Aspiring Dietician

At A Location Where I Am Still Receiving Help

Dear Major Ashpole,

   I take herbal vitamins and they are neither huge nor do they taste like hay, at least not that much.

   And I don’t check my urine to see what color it is. Of course, I sit down when I go, so I guess it’s different if you’re a man.

   I would make a couple of other key points, but right now I have a doctor’s appointment to see about some strange fruit that started growing on my forearm, which, by coincidence, started shortly after I began a regimen of bearberry root capsules and goldenrod mouthwash. 

   Who’d a thunk?

Summer Iorganic

Lake Algamart

Dear Major Ashpole,

  I like Grucci fireworks, or pretty much any fireworks, for that matter. 

   All the pretty colors and big booms. 

   It’s really neat.

Dick Cheney

Hunkered Down, Wyoming


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