Sunday, January 9, 2011

Forgot My Mittens

Craig Kitzmiller is my dentist, and he has a very well-rounded selection of magazines in his waiting room, everything from genuine medical journals to The Smithsonian to gossip magazines. There's something for everybody. Sometimes I go there just to read, even when I don't have an appointment, as was the case the other day. There was this magazine article in one of the more learned magazines, about how people in northern climes don't get enough vitamin D, especially during the winter. Apparently, the human body makes its own vitamin D when the skin is exposed to direct sunlight. I don't know how this happens, but according to people who actually paid attention in science class, it does.

The winter blues was beginning to get the best of me; I was feeling a little sluggish and decided that perhaps a little sunlight would be a perfect mid-winter pick-me-up. Then I got to thinking that the more skin exposed to the sun, the more vitamin D would be produced. I didn't need a magazine article for that; I figured it out on my own. Like many enthusiastic innovators, I'm always thinking of ways to improve upon a theory.

At first I began by removing only my shirt. Then I heard some applause and a friendly toot of the horn from some passers by. That did it. I'm not a performer by any stretch of the imagination, but the simple approval by the clapping of hands and an uplifting toot was a lure that must drive every singer, actor, or juggler to exalt their craft to illustrious heights.

Inspired by the very human desire for affirmation (as well as scientific practicality), I decided to let the sun do its work on almost every available portion of my body; "au naturel," as the shameless French like to call it. A few strategically placed handfuls of snow kept the episode within the legal boundaries of exposure. After all, this was science, not some hoochie show. Sure, it was chilly at first, but after a while, my thoughts turned to my hungry vitamin D engines, basking in the glory of unexpected productivity. Their mid-winter awakening surely heartened their spirits, as I hope it did for the few people who offered their encouraging toots. When enough vitamin D had been manufactured (I'm not sure how long this takes, but I think the numbing of extremities is the indicator) I returned to the safety of the indoors.

Anyone who tries this invigorating winter exercise in a climate similar to Chicago's, should be warned: don't do what I did and forget your mittens. That was something I overlooked, and now feel somewhat embarrassed for not using better judgment. No I often say to myself, "What the heck was I thinking."