Baby Jessica and other kids I'd forgotten about...

Sure, you remember their stories. You might even be able to remember their names. But here's the real question: it's 7am, do you know where these kids are right now?

That Kid: Who Got Stuck Down a Well

The Story: Back in 1987, an 18-month old "Baby Jessica" McClure captured the nation's attention when she tumbled into an old well in her aunt's backyard. Emergency workers piped fresh air and heat into the well, and expert miners spent 58 straight hours digging a parallel shaft 22 feet into the ground to rescue her. While healthy at the moment, The Today Show reported that Jessica has undergone 15 surgeries and 9 blood transfusions since reemerging.
Picture 22.png The Post-Puberty Report: Adult Jessica seems to be, pardon the phrase, well-adjusted. Now 21, she's married, has a child, and according to all reports, remains thoroughly down-to-earth. In fact, she's refused to get plastic surgery to cover up her scars because it reminds her to be thankful for her life. Of course, she'll probably be even more thankful for her life in 4 years. That's when a trust fund, set up in her name with public donations, should kick a few million dollars her way.

That Kid: Who Was Too Old to Play Little League

Picture 7.pngThe Story: Back in 2001, Danny Almonte didn't just pitch his Bronx, NY team to a third-place finish in the Little League World Series; the 12-year old phenom also pitched a perfect game along the way. Of course, there was just one problem: turns out little Danny wasn't so little. After a rival Staten Island team hired a private investigator to look into the case, Sports Illustrated followed-up with their own investigation. Unbeknownst to Danny, his father had falsified his birth certificate by two years to hand his son an arm up on the competition.
The Post-Puberty Report: Well, to be accurate, the story actually started post-puberty. That said, while the team was stripped of their Little League title, all the players including Danny Almonte were cleared of any wrong-doing (since he didn't know his own age at the time). As for where Danny is today: after helping his high school team win 2 public school athletic league championships (and garnering MVP honors), ESPN is reporting that he's now pitching professionally, throwing "90s plus fast-balls" for the Southern Illinois Miners.

PLUS: We catch up with rock 'n' roll's favorite baby, a 13-year old cover model and the kid who outspelled Dan Quayle after the break.

That Kid: from Nirvana's Nevermind album

nevermind.jpg The Story: According to CommonGate, when Nirvana initially brainstormed on CD artwork, they started by looking at stock photography of babies swimming. But when the costs proved too stiff for their slim wallets, the band hired a photographer who in turn paid a friend's couple $200 to use their 4-month old baby in the shoot. Supposedly Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were so pleased with the pic, they vowed to take the kid out to dinner when he grew up as thanks for his contribution to the album. As for the hook and dollar also featured in the pic? Those were actually Photoshopped into the scene later.
Picture 12.png The Post-Puberty Report: Now 16, Spencer Elden has been featured in various Nirvana documentaries and magazine features. He claims to be a big fan of the band, and proud of his child labor for the album. And while there's no word on whether Courtney Love has followed up on her promise to feed the kid, Nirvana's isn't the only album on which he's been featured. Elden also appears on the cover of Skinny Puppy founder cEvin Key's 2003 album The Dragon Experience.

That Kid: Who Spelled Potato Right (until the VP corrected him)

Picture 5.png The Story: In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle made a pit stop in Trenton, NJ, where he acted as judge in a 6th grade spelling bee. Unfortunately for Quayle, the cards he'd been handed hadn't been spell-checked. So when William Figueroa, who'd been bused in for the event, spelled out his word correctly, Quayle told him "You're close, but you left a little something off. The e on the end." The press immediately picked up the story, Figueroa appeared on Letterman and Quayle's reputation as a mental midget was solidified in the public's mind.
The Post-Puberty Report: Not good, from what we've read. In 2004, a New York Times reporter met up with Figueroa, who'd since dropped out of high school, had his first child by 16, two more by age 24, and was reportedly working a low paying job.

That Kid: from the National Geographic

Picture 4.png The Story: While visiting a Pashtun refugee camp in Pakistan, photographer Steve McCurry snapped a pic of a 13-year old orphan with hauntingly beautiful eyes. The image made the cover of a 1984 National Geographic, and the girl became an international celebrity. Well, sort of. Despite securing a great shot, McCurry never took down the girl's name, and despite taking more than 10 trips back to the region to locate her, it would be another 17 years before she was tracked down.
The Post-Puberty Report: Now a wife and mother of three, Sharbat Gula lives in a Picture 31.pngremote village in Afghanistan. She lives in purdah, and while only female reporters were allowed to visit and photograph her for National Geographic's long awaited follow-up, supposedly she's now "being looked after" by the magazine. Of course, as the BBC reports, the most amazing part is that she hates the iconic photo. She never liked the red scarf she was photographed in, she doesn't like media attention, and has since moved to avoid future interviews.

Plus, a few more tykes you might've forgotten about:
Louise Brown, the world's first test tube baby, has had her own baby.
Elian Gonzales is now a Cuban celeb, has a lot of pets, gets front row seats to Castro speeches, and apparently helped land his father a plush gig in Cuba's national assembly.
And Heather DeLoach, who tapped danced her way into MTV viewers' hearts as a tap-dancing bee in Blind Melon's "No Rain" video, has since landed several acting jobs, including 2 episodes of ER.

Special thanks to Kara Kovalchik for all her research work on this piece.

arrow
Medicine
Charles Dickens Museum Highlights the Author's Contributions to Science and Medicine

Charles Dickens is celebrated for his verbose prose and memorable opening lines, but lesser known are his contributions to science—particularly the field of medicine.

A new exhibition at London’s Charles Dickens Museum—titled "Charles Dickens: Man of Science"—is showcasing the English author’s scientific side. In several instances, the writer's detailed descriptions of medical conditions predated and sometimes even inspired the discovery of several diseases, The Guardian reports.

In his novel Dombey and Son, the character of Mrs. Skewton was paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak. Dickens was the first person to document this inexplicable condition, and a scientist later discovered that one side of the brain was largely responsible for speech production. "Fat boy" Joe, a character in The Pickwick Papers who snored loudly while sleeping, later lent his namesake to Pickwickian Syndrome, otherwise known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome.

A figurine of Fat Boy Joe
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Dickens also wrote eloquently about the symptoms of tuberculosis and dyslexia, and some of his passages were used to teach diagnosis to students of medicine.

“Dickens is an unbelievably acute observer of human behaviors,” museum curator Frankie Kubicki told The Guardian. “He captures these behaviors so perfectly that his descriptions can be used to build relationships between symptoms and disease.”

Dickens was also chummy with some of the leading scientists of his day, including Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, and chemist Jane Marcet, and the exhibition showcases some of the writer's correspondence with these notable figures. Beyond medicine, Dickens also contributed to the fields of chemistry, geology, and environmental science.

Less scientifically sound was the author’s affinity for mesmerism, a form of hypnotism introduced in the 1770s as a method of controlling “animal magnetism,” a magnetic fluid which proponents of the practice believed flowed through all people. Dickens studied the methods of mesmerism and was so convinced by his powers that he later wrote, “I have the perfect conviction that I could magnetize a frying-pan.” A playbill of Animal Magnetism, an 1857 production that Dickens starred in, is also part of the exhibit.

A play script from Animal Magnetism
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Located at 48-49 Doughty Street in London, the exhibition will be on display until November 11, 2018.

[h/t The Guardian]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Words
Beyond Wanderlust: 30 Words Every Traveler Should Know
iStock
iStock

For those who travel, wanderlust is a familiar feeling. It’s that nagging voice in your head that says, “Yes, you do need to book that flight,” even if your bank account says otherwise. Regardless of how many passport covers this word may adorn, it doesn’t begin to cover the spectrum of emotions and experiences that can be revealed through the act of travel. Here are 30 travel words from around the world to keep in your back pocket as you're exploring this summer.

1. VAGARY

From the Latin vagari, meaning “to wander,” this 16th-century word originally meant a wandering journey. Nowadays, "vagaries" refer to unpredictable or erratic situations, but that doesn’t mean the old sense of the word can’t be invoked from time to time.

2. SELCOUTH

An Old English word that refers to something that’s both strange and marvelous. It's a great way to sum up those seemingly indescribable moments spent in an unfamiliar land.

3. FERNWEH

Who hasn’t felt a strong desire to be somewhere—anywhere—other than where you currently are? That’s fernweh, or “farsickness," and this German word has been described as a cousin of wanderlust, another German loan word.

4. DÉPAYSEMENT

A busy street in Hong Kong
iStock

Anyone who has traveled abroad will recognize this feeling. The French word refers to the sense of disorientation that often sets in when you step outside your comfort zone, such as when you leave your home country.

5. DÉRIVE

Another gift from the French, this word literally translates to “drift,” but thanks to some mid-20th century French philosophers, it can also refer to a spontaneous trip, completely free of plans, in which you let your surroundings guide you.

6. PEREGRINATE

To peregrinate is to travel from place to place, especially on foot. Its Latin root, peregrinus (meaning “foreign”), is also where the peregrine falcon (literally “pilgrim falcon”) gets its name.

7. PERAMBULATE

Similar to peregrinate, this word essentially means to travel over or through an area by foot. So instead of saying that you’ll be walking around London, you can say you’ll be perambulating the city’s streets—much more sophisticated.

8. NUMINOUS

The Grand Canyon
iStock

This English word could appropriately be used to describe the Grand Canyon or the Northern Lights. Something numinous is awe-inspiring and mysterious. It's difficult to understand from a rational perspective, which gives it a spiritual or unearthly quality.

9. PERIPATETIC

The young and the restless will want to incorporate this word into their lexicon. The adjective refers to those who are constantly moving from place to place—in other words, a nomadic existence. It stems from the Greek word peripatein (“to walk up and down”), which was originally associated with Aristotle and the shaded walkways near his school (or, according to legend, his habit of pacing back and forth during lectures).

10. WALDEINSAMKEIT

You’re alone in a forest. It’s peaceful. The sun is filtering through the trees and there’s a light breeze. That’s waldeinsamkeit. (Literally "forest solitude." And yes, Germans have all the best travel words.)

11. SHINRIN-YOKU

In a similar vein, this Japanese word means “forest bathing,” and it's considered a form of natural medicine and stress reliever. There are now forest bathing clubs around the world, but you can try it out for yourself on your next camping trip. Take deep breaths, close your eyes, and take in the smells and sounds of the forest. Simple.

12. SOLIVAGANT

In those moments when you just want to run away from your responsibilities, you may consider becoming a solivagant: a solo wanderer.

13. YOKO MESHI

This Japanese phrase literally translates to “a meal eaten sideways,” which is an apt way to describe the awkwardness of speaking in a foreign language that you haven’t quite mastered, especially over dinner.

14. RESFEBER

A woman at the airport
iStock

You just booked your flight. Your heart starts racing. You’re a little nervous about your journey, but mostly you just can’t wait to get going. The anticipation, anxiety, and excitement you get before a big trip is all rolled into one word—resfeber—and you can thank the Swedes for it.

15. FLÂNEUR

Taken from the French flâner, meaning to stroll or saunter, this word describes someone who has no particular plans or place they need to be. They merely stroll around the city at a leisurely pace, taking in the sights and enjoying the day as it unfolds.

16. GADABOUT

This could be construed as the traditional English equivalent of flâneur. Likely stemming from the Middle English verb gadden, meaning “to wander without a specific aim or purpose,” a gadabout is one who frequently travels from place to place for the sheer fun of it. In other words: a modern-day backpacker.

17. HIRAETH

Sometimes, no matter how amazing your vacation may be, you just want to come home to your bed and cats. This Welsh word sums up the deep yearning for home that can strike without warning. As Gillian Thomas put it in an interview with the BBC, “Home sickness is too weak. You feel hiraeth, which is a longing of the soul to come home to be safe.”

18. YŪGEN

The karst peaks of Guilin, China
iStock

This Japanese word can be taken to mean “graceful elegance” or “subtle mystery,” but it’s much more than that. It's when the beauty of the universe is felt most profoundly, awakening an emotional response that goes beyond words.

19. SCHWELLENANGST

Translating to “threshold anxiety,” this German word sums up the fears that are present before you enter somewhere new—like a theater or an intimidating cafe—and by extension going anywhere unfamiliar. The fear of crossing a threshold is normal, even among the most adventurous of travelers—but it often leads to the most unforgettable experiences.

20. COMMUOVERE

Have you ever seen something so beautiful it made you cry? That’s commuovere in action. The Italian word describes the feeling of being moved, touched, or stirred by something you witness or experience.

21. HYGGE

This Danish word refers to a warm feeling of contentedness and coziness, as well as the acknowledgement of that feeling. Although not explicitly related to this term, author Kurt Vonnegut summed up the idea behind this concept quite nicely when he said, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"

22. HANYAUKU

Here's one for those who have a beach trip coming up. Taken from Kwangali, a language spoken in Namibia, hanyauku is the act of tiptoeing across hot sand.

23. SMULTRONSTÄLLE

A patch of wild strawberries
iStock

This Swedish word translates to something along the lines of “place of wild strawberries,” but its metaphorical meaning is something along the lines of a "happy place." Whether it’s a hidden overlook of the city or your favorite vacation spot that hasn’t been “discovered” yet, smultronställe refers to those semi-secret places you return to time and time again because they’re special and personal to you.

24. DUSTSCEAWUNG

This Old English word describes what might happen when you visit a place like Pompeii or a ghost town. While reflecting on past civilizations, you realize that everything will eventually turn to dust. A cheery thought.

25. VACILANDO

In some Spanish dialects, the word vacilando describes someone who travels with a vague destination in mind but has no real incentive to get there. In other words, the journey is more important than the destination. As John Steinbeck described it in his travelogue Travels With Charley: “It does not mean vacillating at all. If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere, but doesn't greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction. My friend Jack Wagner has often, in Mexico, assumed this state of being. Let us say we wanted to walk in the streets of Mexico city but not at random. We would choose some article almost certain not to exist there and then diligently try to find it.”

26. LEHITKALEV

Backpackers and budget travelers, this one is for you: The Hebrew word lehitkalev translates to “dog it” and means to deal with uncomfortable living or travel arrangements.

27. KOMOREBI

Sun shining in the woods
iStock

This beautiful Japanese word is a good one to save for a sunny day spent in the woods. Komorebi translates to “sunshine filtering through the leaves.” Does it get any lovelier than that?

28. RAMÉ

This Balinese word refers to something that is simultaneously chaotic and joyful. It isn’t specifically a travel word, but it does seem to fit the feelings that are often awakened by travel.

29. TROUVAILLE

Translating to a “lucky find,” this French word can be applied to that cool cafe, flower-lined street, or quirky craft store that you stumbled upon by chance. Indeed, these are the moments that make travel worthwhile.

30. ULLASSA

Just in case you needed another reason to plan that trip to Yosemite, here's one last word for nature lovers. The Sanskrit word ullassa refers to the feelings of pleasantness that come from observing natural beauty in all its glory.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios