My oldest friend in the world, Heather, is now a pediatrician. All, like, qualified and stuff. And me? Not too shabby. But when she and I get together, every couple years or so, we fondly reminisce about our secret knowledge of the real use of the appendix.
You may have heard that it is useless? A remnant of some previous evolutionary chapter? Or the latest news that it is a "safe house" for good bacteria. (I love science journalism.) Well, I'm here to tell you that it is not that way.
Some teacher or other, in elementary school, told us that the appendix is for the things you ingest that your body can't digest. Like--are you ready?--chewed fingernails, and swallowed chewing gum. The idea was something like this: once full of gum and fingernails, your appendix would burst. Or it would just sit there for life, full of gum and fingernails. Imagine! At age 80 still carrying around an appendix full of gum from when you were 8. And if you really needed it--say, you HAD to swallow your gum for some reason, like a car crash--you would be out. Of. Luck. So the obvious preventive move was to not ever swallow your gum or gnawed-off fingernails.
I KNOW the current medical thought on the use of the appendix. I would even think that I was imagining it if Heather hadn't been carrying around the same story. We carried it separately until our mid-twenties or so before admitting to each other the unthinkable--that we both secretly still believe the story about the gum. And we think of it every time we chew gum, being careful (of course) not to swallow it.
Oh, the power teachers have.