Folk Remedy

“My throat’s soar, so I’m going to go to down to Traddie’s and take shots of Patron! It’s alcohol so it kills the bacteria!”

My informant, a very upbeat and positive individual, told me this folk remedy at the beginning of a very stressful week for her. She had many midterms in the coming week, as well as a demanding schedule at her job. She had just come from her one social event for the week, an opening reception for a new building, where she had run into her sister. My informant told her sister that her throat had been feeling “scratchy” for a while, that she was worried that she was going to be coming down with a cold, and that this was the worst possible time for her to be sick. My informant’s sister, 25 and also a student, reassured my informant, and told her that if she took shots of alcohol that the alcohol would kill the bacteria.

I was at work when my informant came bounding up to see me and to tell me that she would be at Traddie’s, the on-campus bar in the basement of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, where my informant and I both worked. She presented the use of tequila to prevent sickness as scientific fact. Later, I questioned her about why she had so much faith in this remedy and she responded that alcohol kills bacteria so it made sense that tequila would kill any bacteria in her throat that could cause sickness; she relied on a scientific explanation.

While my informant’s logic was not incorrect, looking at the context in which she preformed the folk remedy provides a different explanation. My informant “didn’t have time” to be sick that week; she was looking for a quick fix. She had already designated that Monday night as a social night, and drinking tequila allowed her to believe that she would not have to deal with a cold after that night. She could take two shots of alcohol and then wake up in the morning to continue her busy schedule. This remedy was born from convenience, not necessarily scientific fact. I believe it reflects a desire in fast-paced high-stress American culture to find quick and easy solutions to problems, before moving on to solving the next problem.