I was this close – THIS CLOSE – to exploding or imploding, depending on the prevailing winds and the presence or lack thereof of vacuum-like conditions, with complete and utter AGGRAVATION at those despicable Fact of the Day (FOTD) people. Hari-kari* even seemed like an apt choice. Why? Because there, in my text message inbox, was the DAMN MUSHROOM COLLECTING MESSAGE AGAIN. Oh, how many times have I absolutely FUMED about the redundancy of this message – not to mention the fact that it was so SILLY in the first place – does everyone on the earth suffer from a COMPLETE lack of common sense? Let’s see, I believe I mentioned it here, here and – oh yes – HERE. Those dim-witted FOTD Purveyors owe me scores and scores of pennies!

But WAIT! Perhaps I’ve been too rash… It is not that exact message I’ve received about a bazillion times previously. They have appended a phrase onto the end:

An elementary rule of mushroom collecting is never to place edible and poisonous specimens together. The slightest touch may contaminate.

There it is: “The slightest touch may contaminate.” The wisdom – the acumen – contained in that one sentence makes all the difference. Oh, FOTD Purveyors, I NEVER KNEW! Perish the thought – the slightest touch…

This, however, begs the question: “WHY IN THE HELL DO PEOPLE DELIBERATELY COLLECT POISONOUS MUSHROOM SPECIMENS IN THE FIRST PLACE?” If one can, indeed, tell the difference between edible and poisonous varieties, as the FOTD Mongers would have us believe, why don’t the mushroom collectors LEAVE THE POISONOUS SPECIMENS ALONE???

I can come up with only one rational hypothesis. This advice is meant, and has ALWAYS been intended for homicidal mycologists with somewhat limited botanical expertise. It’s a call for SEPARATE GATHERING CONTAINERS. Evidently, there has been one too many mix-ups of the delicacies and the fatal toxins. The FOTD Providers are subtly implying a more clear-cut fungus collecting policy for Murderers by Mushroom. Let’s imagine the following scenario:

Ah – white liquid called ‘latex’ oozing from the gills – here is the delectable Lactarius hygrophoroides, commonly known as the Hygrophorus Milky. I shall carefully place that in the BLUE basket to include in tonight’s pasta; it will be scrumptious! But WAIT – could it be? Only closer examination will tell… The cap is slippery, wide and smooth, with greenish-yellowish pigments; it’s adorned with several patches of thin white veil tissue. The gills are white, crowded together, and very finely attached to the upper stalk. The stalk is pallid with a large rounded bulb at the base – and SAINTS BE PRAISED – the stalk and the tell-tale, sac-like volva are buried in the soil!!! Oh, YES, YES, YES – I’ve happened upon the MOST DANGEROUS MUSHROOM IN THE WORLD, Amanita phalloides or The Death Cap. I’ll put that into the RED basket for the DEMISE SOUP. Ha ha HE HA HEEEE HAAAAA HEEEEE HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA [and other maniacal laughter]!

Now imagine what could have happened WITHOUT separate baskets!

That’s the only likelihood I’ve postulated, so it must be correct. This leads me to put forth an astute proposal of my own:

Never, EVER eat the “Demise Soup!”

It may sound French, but it AIN’T.

*A variant of harakiri, sometimes called seppuku.