X marks the spot

I have a ton of cousins, but not many of them are close to my age without already having kids. Only one really, so I hung out with him and his friends often. On New Year's Eve, the boys took me out to a club to catch some pop singers and do what boys do, drink till they're blue.

So I joined them and yes, my cousin did manage to get me drunk, more than six shots under an hour on an empty stomach will do that. After the show, we headed out to catch some fireworks and then finally crept into bed a little after 1 a.m. My aunt grabbed my feet and wiped something on them before I nodded off to sleep. I awoke to find two white 'X's on the bottoms of my feet. "Umm, what is it?"

My aunt tells me it is the white paste that is used when wrapping a betel nut to be chewed. Old women here often do this to make their teeth strong. Not only is betel nut chewing addictive, the nut being a stimulant and all, it has the weird side effect of turning your pearly whites black. For the story behind this tradition, check out The Story of the Betel and Areca Tree.

Apparently, the white paste itself, which I found out is lime or calcium oxide, made from ground seashells, has the added property of preventing you from getting a hangover. She says that whenever my uncles were drunk, grandma did the same thing to them. Lime is also use as a primer for painting walls. Huh, who would have thought... Well, I definitely did not have a hangover, so I guessed it worked. Wonder how long people have been using it as a hangover preventer?

Me and my cousin, Thuan.

Grabbing some grub with some of Thuan's buddies.


Been marked....


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