Thursday, August 29, 2013

Alba and the Carbon

(the telephone rings.)
            "Tabubilgirl! Quick!  What's activated charcoal?"
            "Isn't that the stuff they put in Britta filters?  Alba?  Is that you?"            "You're right!  I have those!  I can take one apart!"            "Why?"            "No time to talk!  I'll call you when it's all over, all right?"
(call ends.)

It wasn't all right.  Not even vaguely.  A question like that needs proper answers. After waiting very patiently for three whole minutes, I called Alba back, on account of how I really really wanted to know why she was taking a britta filter apart to get at the charcoal.

            The answer was pretty good, actually. In between sounds of breaking plastic, Alba explained that she'd cooked pasta for lunch and after eating her way through most of a bowl of it, she'd scraped the leftovers out of the saucepan into a tupperware container and noticed that the lower levels of pasta in the saucepan were evidencing a phenomenon possibly unique in pasta circles -
            The pasta company had put a free gift - a magnet advertising an upcoming animated film release - into the bag along with the pasta.  She hadn't noticed it when she was pouring the pasta into the saucepan, and it appeared that the painted plastic layer of the magnet had melted and boiled off.  The pasta in the lower reaches of the  pot were sort of technicolor swirly, with long, dragging plastic tails, and she was freaking out.
            Alba is good at that.  "On the internet I saw that if you eat like a tablespoon of activated charcoal, you can help cleanse your system. I've already made myself throw up the pasta I ate but what if all the horrible toxic paint - and god knows what it has in it -  has been absorbed into my body already?!   I need to filter it out.  From the inside.  That should work, right?"
            I wasn't so sure.  If the pasta hadn't actually burned going down her throat, it was pretty much inert - sort of like accidentally swallowing a bit of cling-wrap or a scrap of plastic bag.  And even if it wasn't purely neutral, that sort of poisoning generally requires cumulative and repeated exposure to do real damage-
            "I'm not arguing"  Alba said, but she was still making herself a nice cup of activated charcoal tea.  With maple syrup to help it go down.
            "You DO realize that the way activated charcoal works is that it makes you throw up?  You've already done that.  It doesn't actually filter your system from the inside."
             "But not everyone throws up.  I read on the internet that it's like 60% of people.  Tops.  And I'm not really the throwing up sort.  It took a lot of effort last time when I got all that pasta up.  I mean - wow, tickling the back of your throat sure is effective, but boy does it take work.  And even if I do throw up again, well, that's good right?  It means that it's working.  I mean - I mean…. uuuuuuurp.  I gotta go!"
            She hung up.  And five minutes later I got a text saying that activated charcoal really does work that fast.
            The things you learn on a Wednesday afternoon.  In other news, our regular mid-week sketching circle didn't happen yesterday on account of the hostess suffering a bout of self-induced stomach flu.

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