Truth is Stranger than Fiction

In the category of truth that is stranger than fiction, I’ve recently learned that over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medications—the kind of thing you’d take when you have a stomach virus or put in your travel kit in case of Montezuma’s revenge—are being used by addicts. According to a New York Times article, opioid addicts unable to get painkillers are resorting to the mild high found in huge doses of the active ingredient— loperamide. A few have died from constipation. I don’t want to think about how painful and disgusting that sounds, but pushed to the brink, there is no telling where people will go.

As the cliché goes, truth is stranger than fiction.

Given the right mix of person and circumstances, crazy events unroll. Jim Jones and his paranoid philosophy brought his followers to mass suicide with poisoned Kool Aid. This is the origin of the phrase, “Drank the Kool Aid” as a synonym for blind obedience. It’s true and strange!

Ideologies, passions and even fads seem to float on the air and overtake people. From the benign, infectious, and annoying dance craze—La Macarena to unhealthy fashions.

Long before the dissipated waifs of heroin chic of the late1990s, there was the idealization of the dilated eyes, pale-to-the-level-of-transparent skin, and sickly thin bodies of consumptives—in the late 1780s to the 1850s. The period’s romantic ideal of beauty reflected the misconception that TB was an inherited sensitivity to miasmas and therefore something tragic and desirable. Think about Mimi in ‘La Boheme’ and Violetta in ‘La Traviata.’ These romantic consumptives wasted away—although the sopranos in these classic roles usually carry enough weight to project the soaring notes of these favorite operas. Strange and true!

Another mystifying phenomenon is the fear of black cats and the subsequent lower adoption rates. This is crazy! I’ve read a bunch of articles all with varying stats on both the fear and the relatively slow/low adoption rates of black cats. As every cat that has entered my life was a stray, kitten from a litter looking for a home or a rescue cat, the color of the cat has never been a major issue. I can’t imagine being afraid of a black cat. But people are superstitious and cats get rejected and sometimes euthanized.

Strange and also, unfortunately, true.

Truth & fiction/truth IN fiction—things writers think about.


Morse is as mystified as I am…


  1. The same goes for black dogs as well. Their adoption rates are lower than that of all other dogs that get adopted. I guess black fur just doesn’t have that wow factor. That reminds me of shows I’ve seen on clothing design where the use of all black fabric on the runway usually gets criticized because the details don’t stand out. In the stranger than fiction category, I once had a student whose parents would sell anything they could get their hands on for meth. I had been loaning him a movie at a time from my personal collection since he was so poor, but then had to stop once mom and dad sold my DVD (along with whatever else) at a pawn shop.

    • Candy Korman

      Earlier today I was admiring a cute, black puppy and pointing him out to a friend’s little girl. I can’t imagine that he was less desirable than his brown, grey, white or tan fellows, but… what do I know? I’m a cat person. I’m sad to hear the same nonsense applies to dogs. As for black clothes—that’s interesting! Black is the go-to color for most women in my city AND is the default color for my dance——the tango. I’ve made a conscious effort to add color to my wardrobe. Hearing black cloth on the runway gets a negative reaction is interesting.

      Of course the awful TRUTH VS Fiction is your former student and his meth addict parents. That little nugget of distressing reality is a start of a serious story!

  2. I knew of the superstition about black cats but I had no idea it actually still influenced people’s choices. 🙁 I’ve had lots of black cats and they were all wonderful. Then again all my cats have been wonderful. 🙂 Like yours, Candy, my feline friends are strays, rejects and runts from litters. Not the prettiest perhaps but with miles of personality.

    • Candy Korman

      The longevity of superstitions is astounding. I just don’t get it. How anyone could reject a black cat is beyond me. But so is the OD level use of Imodium and the lure of heroin chic. People are crazy creatures, capable of outrageous behavior, ridiculous notions and more. Just thinking about all the weirdness out there keeps fiction writers on our toes!

      Truth is stranger than fiction…