Sunday, December 20, 2009

Raised on urban myths

"Hey, Dad. I'll bet if you stare at those lights long enough, you'll go blind," my nine-year-old proclaimed.

I've stopped arguing with her. It doesn't do any good, and she'll just dig in further and further.

Last night, as we drove back from an early Christmas celebration with my daughters' grandma, we passed under a large bank of landing lights leading to the runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

"Those are probably almost as bright as the sun. And you definitely will go blind staring at the sun. It doesn't take very long."

I quietly retorted to my wife, "Yeah. Just like you'll die from tetanus if you don't get that shot every time you go to the doctor, because you can never remember the last time you got a tetanus shot."

As our family continued on in silence, I pondered all of the untruths, all of the myths we're inundated with throughout our lives. It starts when we're young, and it originates from our parents:
"Don't cross your eyes like that. They'll stick."

And our peers:
"If you eat Pop Rocks and drink Coke, your stomach will explode."
"If you swallow gum, it stays in your body for seven years."

It continues on to more outlandish tales, especially during junior high and high school:
"Did you hear what Richard Gere did (please research this on your own)?"
"Be really careful if you go to Las Vegas, because people are waking up in tubs of ice without a kidney."

I believed each and every one of these at some point. Fear seems to usurp logic, and only when you really examine these do they seem completely absurd. Okay, my eyes have sort of stuck in a cross-eyed position and that Richard Gere thing—well, maybe. But how does gum magically leave your body after seven years? Through a large, time-generated pore in the epidermis? How do you wake up at all if someone rips a kidney from your torso? I'm sure some of our best criminals are accomplished surgeons.

As we rolled into the driveway, I still couldn't make up my mind on the last of the nagging legends, the one which seemed utterly plausible, yet outlandish nonetheless:

Was Mister Rogers really a Navy Seal?

1 comment :

  1. I heard, and I totally believe, that Mr. Rogers was banned from certain stations early in his career because he was too sexy. Not just too sexy for his cardigan!

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