By Hannah Reich Berman

Why do I bother reading articles about the results of new studies when I know that the information will cause me nothing but grief? This is especially true if the study is about something I’ve been doing for so long that any damage that might have been caused by the behavior is likely to be irreversible. What good is it to stop a behavior if all indications are that the damage can’t be undone? This of course doesn’t apply to alerts about car recalls and unsafe baby gear such as carriages, car seats, or cribs. Sometimes warnings are about some food or pill that people commonly ingest that is now thought to be unhealthy. And that information is valuable.

Now and then, a caveat will involve a risky behavior that one unknowingly (or even knowingly) engages in, such as having sleep apnea but eschewing the C-PAP, an apparatus that is used to help those with sleep apnea. I shamefully admit that the C-PAP was prescribed to me and then hand-delivered to my home but it’s something I rarely use. Despite learning that I’m engaging in risky behavior, I sometimes disregard warnings. My M.O. is to read, briefly consider what I’ve read, and then, for some inexplicable reason, lapse into a feigned but blissful ignorance before continuing along my merry way and putting it out of my mind.

But some studies aren’t important enough to be taken seriously. The most recent piece of bad news that has come my way is something I spotted online a few weeks ago. While not serious, it was noteworthy enough for me to rethink one of my habits. That would be my habit of using straws. A journalist had reported about a recent study of people who use straws and the piece got my undivided attention! Apparently, research has shown that excessive drinking through a straw causes wrinkles in the lower face. While wrinkles aren’t harmful, they are, for some of us, worthy of consideration.

It happens that wrinkling is a condition that rates high on the list of things that I don’t want. Unfortunately, it won’t make a difference if I do or do not give credence to this study, because I’ve been drinking iced coffee through a straw for close to 40 years, and that just about guarantees that it will be impossible to undo any damage that might have been done. If it was a legitimate study with honest results, the likelihood is that I will soon be the unhappy owner of facial wrinkles. But there’s no sense in stopping my use of a straw now. Common sense doesn’t seem to be one of my strong suits, but I have enough of it to realize that 40 years of puckering probably can’t be undone. That being the case, I’ve decided to do what I do so often and so well–ignore what I’ve read about straws and wrinkles.

Iced coffee is my favorite beverage and one that I drink all year long. Unfortunately, I don’t enjoy that drink without a straw. I know this to be true because I have, on occasion, had to drink it without one. It happens when I either lose my straw or forget to take one along when I leave the house. And guess what! The coffee doesn’t taste as good. It might simply be a meshugas but that’s the way it is. Any time I drink iced coffee straight from the cup, it isn’t the same. I may be short on common sense now and then and I may have some mishugassen, but I have the most highly developed taste buds in town. What else can one say about taste buds that know instinctively when the straw is missing? So, wrinkles or no wrinkles, I’ll stick with what works for me.

Based on my somewhat unsophisticated calculations, chances are that it won’t be much longer before the dreaded wrinkles appear. If the study results are legit, within the next few years I can expect to have deep grooves on either side of my mouth as well as my upper lip. In short, I will look like a marionette. How attractive! In an attempt to adjust to that probability, I may change my name from my given name, Hannah Dena, to Howdy Doody. Howdy was a much-loved early childhood idol of mine. And it doesn’t escape my attention that we have the same first and middle initials. I won’t even need to change the monograms on my towels. And I’ll be able to keep the gold necklace I received from my parents as a birthday gift years ago. It has a pendant in the shape of the letter H hanging from it.

Averting my eyes when I see a warning would clearly be my best option but that rarely happens, as willpower isn’t one of my finer attributes. But why shouldn’t I read everything? Even if the questionable behavior is one in which I personally don’t engage, it might be something that I know one of my children or grandchildren does. For that reason, I read everything just in case I might need to issue a cease-and-desist order to someone I love. Upon further reflection however, I must acknowledge that it would make little difference if I did warn one of my offspring about anything, because it’s not likely that they’ll pay much attention to me. Somewhere along the way I seem to have lost credibility in that arena. My guess is that it’s because I’ve issued too may warnings and made too many suggestions over the years.

So, given that wrinkles aren’t serious, I have no intention of warning my kids, or their kids, about drinking through straws. After all, it’s not a danger to their health and all of them are still young enough to be unconcerned about wrinkles. The only response I would be likely to receive would be the old eyeball roll, followed by, “Ma, why do you worry about everything?” And I will have no answer to that question. That’s the way it is. v

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.


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