Last night, I finished reading Pete Hamill’s memoir “A Drinking Life.” He mentions that he has two daughters. Now I don’t know which one of them went ultraviolence in my bar, but he wrote that when one of them (Deirdre) was a baby, she got salmonella poisoning from drinking unpasteurized milk in Mexico. She had begun talking before the infection. After the infection, all her talking stopped. Hamill writes:
Deirdre was still not talking. One Saturday afternoon, she was walking with me on Fourteenth Street and suddenly fell on her bottom. I picked her up, and she looked at me with those brown eyes but didn’t cry. I stood her up and she walked a few more feet and plopped down again. Ramona told me she’d been doing the same thing in the apartment. I was alarmed. The next day, while I went to work at the newspaper, Ramona took Deirdre to St. Vincent’s.
She called me at the paper, her voice trembling.
They’re trying to tell me that she’s retarded, Ramona said.
Retarded! It must be from that milk in Mexico! From the goddamned salmonella.
I rushed to the hospital and looked at our little girl. I didn’t believe the analysis. Her eyes were bright. She recognized me. She laughed when I played with her.Ramona and I found another doctor and insisted that more tests be made. That girl, we told each other, is not retarded.
We were right. There was a chemical imbalance in her brain, possibly brought on by salmonella.
So there you have it. Deirdre Hamill is not retarded. She does, however, suffer from a chemical imbalance that makes her hit people in the face with wine glasses. Moral of this story: drink orange juice.
cc: Louis Pasteur
December 10, 2005