Every family has their mysterious cures. A special chicken soup for the flu. Humidifiers filled with elixirs passed down from great-grandparents. A pat of cold water on your head when you’re going out in cold weather to keep you from getting a virus.
Of course, none of these have any scientific basis. In fact, if you even mention these family remedies to anyone with even a semester of science class, they will give you that same look usually reserved for people who add an “s” to the middle of New Braunfels, or pronounce Seguin as if it rhymed with “Say Tween.”
Yet the cures persist. Maybe they are mostly a superstition rather that something with any scientific validity, but then again who wants to risk it? Afterall some of our grandparents made it well into their 90s with these ideas, so who are we to toss them out willy nilly?
Which brings me to the great hiccup cure.
I’m sure you have your own family hiccup cure, but I’m betting you’ll be hard pressed to beat this one. When I was a kid ,I would get terrible hiccups. I’d try drinking water while bent over at the waist. It usually worked, but not once they were really out of control. I tried water, I tried holding my breath. And even though I hated to be startled, I asked someone to scare me. Nothing was working. Then my mother, in a fit of exasperation with my whining hiccupping, said “Stick out your tongue.”
“Why-y?” I asked, mid-hiccup.
She tore a piece of paper, wet it with my tongue, then stuck it on my forehead. “There,” she said, satisfied. “Now they will stop.”
“This is ridiculous,” I said. “This will never work. I mean it has nothing to do with my hiccups.”
“They will stop,” she said confidently.
And they did.
And you know what? When upside-down water drinking failed, the spit-paper-forehead trick worked with my kids, too. And as recently as this week we had a family member in the hospital who developed terrible hiccups for several hours.
It worked for him too.
Medical science is probably not ready to research the efficacy of the spit-paper-forehead trick for hiccups. I can’t blame them because I still don’t understand how it can possibly work. Maybe the actual cure has to do with being mortified, not with having paper on your forehead. Whatever the reason, I guarantee you, when my kids have kids who won’t stop hiccupping, they are totally going to try it. And I’ll bet it’s going to work.