It seems like we all, as kids, harbor some bizarre beliefs and fixations. I, being typical, was no different. I’m not talking about The Monster Who Lives In The Closet or Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy delusions, but far less explainable ones.
I also recall being puzzled by the crazy shit some of my peers believed, such as their belief that golf balls contained some radioactive substance deep inside that would kill you if you handled it, but if you were a normal kid, this was hardly a deterrent. You’d labor to crack open any stray golf ball you found, unwind two miles of stringy crap, and then find out that the real truth about the center of a golf ball was very, very boring and not lethal at all (unless you cracked open your dad’s brand new golf balls and destroyed them, in which case you might get beaten into the middle of next week).
The List Of Some Of The Stupid Things I Believed Or Was Fixated Upon As A Child
I was sure:
1. That if I put my left shoe on first each day, my right shoe would feel neglected and sad, so I had to alternate which shoe got to go first. Just to be fair. The same thing applied to favored stuffed animals. No matter what my real feelings were, I had to maintain this fiction that I loved and liked them all the same…much like my mother did with me and my sibling. We weren’t fooled.
2. That even license plates and advertisements on billboards can be entertaining. I learned to read at an early age, so when reading things forwards got boring, I’d spell them backwards in my head. Then I tried rearranging them into new and better words. Many a billboard was rendered far more interesting this way. Nowadays I KILL at Jumble, Boggle and other useless word puzzles.
3. That inflammable meant that whatever was in there would never, ever catch on fire, because flammable was clearly the word that meant that. It made no sense to have two words mean the same thing. When corrected, I revised this belief. Inflammable meant much more flammable. Like, you could set it on fire just by looking at it cross-eyed. This made me very nervous on interstates. Also, imagine my confusion upon encountering the word cleave, and realizing that it could mean two completely contradictory things. English? Illogical.
4. That I could communicate with all animals, given enough time and patience. There may be some validity to this delusion, as I approached growling, slavering, strange hounds, picked up and fondled unknown varieties of triangle-headed snakes, caught bees by their wings when they fed on the flowers in our yard, poked grouchy skinks, carelessly thrust my bare hands in unknown dark bolt holes, and otherwise tempted death or injury on a regular basis and never even so much as got a scratch. This includes the time I went wading in a creek behind our house and was suddenly alarmed to realize I was surrounded by a squadron of cottonmouths / water moccasins. I pretended to be a branch, moved very slowly, and escaped being bitten. This also includes the many times I went blackberrying barefoot, temping fate not only to cause me to step on a briar-y, thorny vine, but also risking pissing off rattlesnakes. Oh, I also believed that rattlesnakes ate blackberries, when rattlesnakes actually eat the small animals who eat blackberries.
5. That food tastes crappier if mixed together. The procedure to avoid this horror is simple: eat each food item separately. Start with the good stuff, then chip away at the crap stuff until you can be excused from the dinner table. Realize that at least you’re not as much of an asshole about food as your brother, who has learned to yark on cue when fed string beans. As compensation for having to sit through dozens of vomit-enhanced dinnertime follies, no one’s behavior at the dinner table will ever be able to put you off your trough ever again. You will cheerfully eat rare steak while watching The X-Files or surgery shows or Forensic Files. You ordered Chinese? The resemblance between the fried rice you’re happily chomping on and the seething maggots on the dead body that the cops on the telly just found won’t bother you a bit. Gross your boyfriend out by offering him chunks of Chinese pork.
6. That if you stare at the back of someone’s neck long enough, not only will they sense it and turn around, but you can also Influence Them to do stuff. This…may be true. *stares at the back of your neck* See? You now feel…compelled…to leave a Comment.
7. That gold-colored Volkswagen Beetles had rare magical properties and could grant wishes. There was a whole system, if I remember right. You had to cross your fingers when you saw a gold Bug, and then wait until you saw a dog to make a wish. We expanded this to silver Bugs, and you had to loop all your fingers over the top of your hand (it is easier to show than to tell what I mean by this) and wait to see a cat. I don’t recall either method working worth a darn. Green-colored M&Ms had magical properties as well, but damned if I could figure out what they were, because the big kids weren’t telling.
8. That using pottery paint from the pottery craft kit you got at a yard sale to decorate your neighbor’s sidewalk with flowers and hearts will be interpreted as a gesture of friendship, affection, and general goodwill. Also, pottery paint will wash off easily with a garden hose. I was very wrong on both counts. What I am trying to say here is that pottery paint is permanent. Also, if you buy a used pottery craft kit at a yard sale, the clay will have hardened into the form of a pile of small rocks.
9. That all dogs are boys and all cats are girls. This belief persisted for a while, even after getting The Birds And The Bees Talk.
10. That mixing generous portions of Mom’s lotions, powders, shampoos and conditioners together in a cereal bowl will create a new and improved beauty product that will earn you a bajillion dollars and make you famous. What it does is get your butt beaten.
11. That aspirin and Coca-Cola mixed together do something very important, but, again, the big kids aren’t telling. It probably makes your stomach blow up. Not a good plan. But that Pop*Rocks and Coke rumor is definitely a big lie. You’d have to be a real idiot to believe that.
12. That even though your dad kills slugs by putting pie-pans full of beer under a thin layer of pine straw all over the backyard, the likelihood that you will step in one or more of them every single week while running like a crazy person through the camellia or azalea garden is nearly nil. This will in no way affect your enthusiasm for trying beer when you are older. Except, alas, it will, and the smell of beer will forever remind you of the nausea you felt while digging mashed, stinky, beery slug corpses out from between your bare toes.
13. That people could float or fly or turn invisible if only they knew the magic word. So if you read the dictionary from cover to cover, you’ll eventually find it. Also: the word “gullible” isn’t actually in the dictionary.
14. That the best way to play Circus and to have your Barbie tightrope artists walk across thread tightropes is to hang them by thread nooses around their necks from the curtain rods. This will not freak your mom out in the least, and you will not be dragged off to see a child psychologist, who will idly test you, determine that you are fairly normal (whatever that means) but also very, very smart and frequently very, very bored, and he will proceed to conspire with you to feed you forbidden sweets, ignore you so he can do crossword puzzles and nap, and then bill your hysterical, over-reacting mom for it.
15. That I could literally scratch myself to death if a tag was left on my collars or underwear. Clothing tags were my mortal enemy. If my parents failed in their duties and forgot to remove them, I’d rip them out with my teeth. In part this was due to “Princess And The Pea”-like skin sensitivities, but it was also due to me being weird. That labels also had washing instructions on them was emphatically not my problem.
16. That when I am trotted out to perform and look cute for a gaggle of adults, no one will think to look for me if I get overwhelmed and feel shy and then crawl under the table, and I will definitely be left alone. This will, of course, not embarrass my mother at all. And I will not be pinched black and blue for this transgression.
17. That baby dolls are evil and want to eat your brains in your sleep. Barbie dolls, on the other hand, are perfectly fine, and not the reason I tied the waistband of my hateful, giant-sized, poofy underwear into a knot to give my pudgy six-year-old self an hourglass figure. (It worked.)
18. That making thread loops and tying them around big round plastic bracelets and then putting the thread loops over the tops of your ears will fool everyone into thinking your ears are pierced.
19. That this daring fashion statement is best set off by a red, yellow, blue and green straw sombrero from Nassau.
20. That if I flush the hideous Buster Brown shoes that give me blisters down the toilet right before church, I will either not have to wear the hideous Buster Brown shoes that give me blisters or I will not have to go to church. Either way, win-win. In reality, I will have to go to church with one wet shoe, and one bare foot, and it will be Communion Sunday, and I will be marched up the aisle like Diddle Diddle Dumpling My Son John, and all the old ladies in the church will hiss and tch and tut and cluck at each other about what a neglectful slattern of a mother I have.
21. That the cat really enjoys being worn as a fur stole. Or a hat.
22. That I will be able to care for a baby mole I find in the gutter after a spring thunderstorm, and that “Holy Moley” is a fantastic name for him, too. His inevitable demise will naturally give me guilt spasms for years afterwards.
23. That since I swung on the power lines all the time when up in the magnolia trees, I must be impervious to death. This revelation, oddly, makes me feel even more depressed, since I was an unhappy kid and remembering that I was so unconcerned about whether I died or not is an unpleasant memory.
24. That candy tastes better if you separate it into same-coloured piles first. Additionally, odd numbers are superior to even numbers. (Instructions: Drive self crazy when the piles are not identical by trying to determine how to tackle this life-altering, very important decision process.)
25. That when I grow up, I will be a rich and famous artist and people will all like me. Also, the universe is inherently fair, and being a good person is sufficient to keep bad things from happening to you.
26. That God gives a crap about your maths test today.
27. That he who smelt it, dealt it. It is also always okay to blame flatulence on Daddy or the dog.
28. That my mom is the most beautiful lady in the entire universe, and should be a supermodel. The only reason she isn’t is because she clearly did not have any interest in it.
29. That it’s okay to swim in the neighborhood’s public baby pool. Decades later, you will put two and two together and realize you willingly marinated in diluted baby pee. Repeatedly.
30. That playing in sewers is fun. Well, actually, it is fun, but pretending it was a creek and not a tidal run-off and sewer overflow thing is, at best, delusional. But, yeah, big fun. With turtles and skinks and snakes and tadpoles all up in it.
31. That success selling greeting cards and Girl Scout cookies door-to-door as a child definitely indicates that I am destined to have success in business as an adult. That winning a statewide cake bake-off means that I will actually become a competent cook as an adult. Not so much. (I can bake, though!)
32. That Ice Cream Soup is a real recipe, and that it tastes better than unmolested ice cream.
33. That if I concentrate hard enough, my little brother can be returned to sender, just like the itchy grey sweater Crazy Aunt Judy gave me for Christmas. That because I do not want a pony, thus not putting undue pressure on Santa, then I will get the Barbie crap I asked for, and not the weird educational crap I did not want but which I ended up with instead, including The Visible Man kit, which traumatized me with all his little plastic innards and clear skin. My parents found out I had a high IQ, and that Christmas was pretty dire, since almost every single gift under the tree was designed to appeal to teen and adult hobbyists who could afford to buy the parts the kits did not come with, but they were definitely not designed with an 8-year-old in mind who really just wanted a fucking Barbie doll for fuck’s sake.
34. That puns are freaking HILARIOUS! No one should ever get tired of puns. Even the same one, told multiple times in a single hour. Funny, man. And have you heard the orange and banana knock-knock jokes? I know a million of ’em! Thank you! You’ve been a great audience! I’ll be here all week! Try the buffet!
35. That brown sugar + white sugar = cinnamon sugar. Not an expensive mess of wasted baking ingredients. That bologna + Velveeta + white bread + toaster = edible meal. Don’t worry about that red plastic strip around the bologna, you can just peel it off later if you forget to do it before putting it in the toaster. Just ignore the smoke and toxic fumes.
36. That the brown bottle with the pictures of fruit on it is a special and tasty fruit juice that the grown-ups have been hiding from you. It is not, conversely, a strong amaretto. Therefore, drinking the whole bottle should be okay. This will, in no way, ruin amaretto for you for the rest of your life.
37. That Kotex pads are the perfect Barbie doll mattresses. Also, cutting up the seed pearl necklace your grandmother gave you and giving it to your Barbie dolls to wear is the best way to show appreciation for such a generous gift. I still feel absolutely terrible about that one, but no one told me it was real.
38. That trichotillomania is fun, not a sign of depression or stress. It took twenty years for my widow’s peak to grow back in.
39. That if you swallow gum, it will take seven years to digest.
40. That I have super abilities that are not being properly appreciated by my peers or family. Like, obviously I rode my bike for, like, fifty miles today. A new world record!
41. That it’s okay to wander around your neighbor’s yards and to touch whatever you want to. Free flowers! Ooh, department store catalogues! It’s time to play “What’s In That Shed?” They won’t miss this garden gnome.
42. Hark, a noise…! Can’t sleep, aliens will eat me.
43. That picking scabs is the best kind of entertainment a kid could ever imagine. Blood? Bonus!
44. That sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Yeah, right. One of the biggest lines of bullshit ever.
45. That the Ouija Board will give you a viral, severe, jumping Jehoshaphat case of angry ghosts and you will die of haunted-ness.
46. That Jesus loves me. In fact, he knows me by name and has a personal interest in my well-being and happiness. I kind of outgrew this one by the time I was in first grade.
47. That if you go swimming less than an hour after eating, even if it is just 59 minutes and 59 seconds, you will get a cramp and drown and die. When you do go into the water, Jaws will eat you. Perhaps beaches are death traps altogether, and are best avoided.
48. That toads give you warts. Whether or not warts are a desired outcome (kids are strange), you believe that it is possible to pick up a toad without it tinkling all over your hands. The fact that you have never accomplished this feat will in no way discourage you from catching toads as often as you can.
49. That pulling up all the loose wooden parquet floor tiles and using them as building blocks is a useful way to spend an afternoon. You were so close to inventing Jenga.
50. That, while riding a bicycle, it’s possible to take a sharp corner on sand-covered asphalt without losing control of said bike, falling down on to said asphalt, and gouging a huge bloody hole in your chin. This will be a blessing in disguise, as it will discourage you from taking any risks ever again, and you will reach adulthood without a single sprain, stitch, cavity, serious burn, or broken bone.