Karen and I are working, and Jake is making himself a cup of tea. As he waits for the water to boil, he reads the information on the box of tea he’s holding.
“What are free radicals?” He asks us, “Because tea fights them.”
“I don’t know, but they are very bad, ” I say.
“They’re radical, ” Karen adds.
“And free, ” I say.
“And it can’t ever be good to have your radicals free, ” concludes Karen.
“Not good at all. Free radicals,” I say, “are like the militant extremists in the 60’s. Like the Black Panthers. Or Jane Fonda. Free radicals attack stuff, but tea keeps things under control.”
Karen asks for clarification, “”Do free radicals march on Washington?”
“Metaphorically, yes. They’re like the hippie extremists who blew things up, or the guys who killed Malcolm X–“
“Really?” Asks Karen.
“Yes! Free radicals are always there and have a place in the system, but when the system is out of balance then the free radicals can go overboard and cause damage. They’re like young men without any social or economic hope who are looking for a cause.”
“So, free radicals are like the angry youth of the world?”
“Exactly!” I say. “But armed. When free radicals get out of balance they’re like a fatwa, but in your body.”
” A FATWA?” Karen exclaims.
“Yes! Too many free radicals are just like fatwas, Karen. Al-Qaeda is like a free radical.”
“Really? And so how does tea come into this?”
“Tea is the response that neutralizes the situation. Our military response to Al-Qaeda would be the tea. I think, in general, the government’s response is always a form of tea, for better or worse. That guy in Tienanmen Square was a free radical–“
“Then what was the tea?”
“Sadly, I think it was the tank. But the tank was baaaad tea. The people who stormed the Bastille? Free radicals. But I think the French prefer coffee, and that explains a lot. “
Jake, amused, has been listening to this and now says, “So I should just look up free radicals online because you two have no idea what they are?”
“You know,” Karen says to me, ” not everyone understands these concepts as well as we do.”
“I’m gonna check Wikipedia,” Jake says.
“Pffft,” I snort. “Wikipedia. They just make stuff up.”