On childhood beliefs.

A friend sent me a link to a website called Iusedtobelieve.com, which features a collection of the amusing things people believed when they were children—e.g., thunder is God bowling, it’s rude to breathe as you pass a cemetery, Bloody Mary can be summoned from a mirror at midnight. My favorite thus far is from a person named “Gen,” who used to believe that “vanilla was the absence of chocolate, not its own flavor.”

Finding the site compelled me to reflect on some of my own childhood bleefs. For instance, I used to believe that the descriptive phrase “many and sundry” was actually “many incendiary.” You can imagine the confusion that minor misunderstanding often caused.

I once thought that a minute was shorter than a second, thinking that the units of time were named in increasing order of length—thus, a “second” would be the second shortest unit of time. Adding to this conviction was the fact that “minute” preceded “second” alphabetically. Then I discovered “hours,” which threw the whole thing off.

To continue the misperception-of-time motif, I remember being severely disappointed with my father’s response when I asked him whether he and Grampa had fought in the Civil War.

I used to think there were machines that could sense spirit-presences. I had seen a small, circular device on a wall with a tiny red light that never went out. I asked Dad what it was, and his response was that when the red light was on, a ghost was in the building.

When we lived near Washington, D.C., I asked Dad what he did for a living. He said, “I earn money”—so I thought that “to earn money” was some fancy way of saying “to mint coins.” I assumed he worked for the Treasury.

Years ago, in my folks’ attic, I found a movie poster that featured an old, Fifties-style painting of a werewolf at night, titled Return of the Monster, starring none other than my dad. When I asked why he stopped acting, he responded that he didn’t like the contract that Hollywood had offered. I spent the next year scouring the TV Guide every Sunday morning to see whether Return of the Monster would be on that week…

It’s good to cherish those beliefs, though it’s important to outgrow them. Eventually, those smoke detectors have to be plugged back in.

2 Responses to “On childhood beliefs.”

  1. As Im A Bassi Says:
    April 27th, 2007 at 10:35 AMHere’s a couple of mine: on the way to school, we used to pass this huge chimney stack that would every now and then belch out black smoke (back before Earth Day actually existed, probably). I used to think that night was caused by this very same black smoke filling up the sky and blotting out the sun. I still sometimes wonder why we don’t start coughing and sputtering when the sun sets.

    And since I never really knew my mom’s father, I just assumed that Gandhi was my grandfather. And that my father knew Michael Jackson personally, especially when he brought home a “signed” copy of Moonwalker on VHS. (Has anyone actually seen that movie?)

    Now, this doesn’t really fit into the I-used-to-believe category but the pediatrician that my mom used to take me to would always give me a Cadbury’s Mars bar whenever the nurse checked my weight. I got so used to it that from then on, whenever I had my weight checked, I would turn around to the person taking the weight and wait, patiently and expectantly. One more for Pavlov.

  2. twink Says:
    May 2nd, 2007 at 9:24 PMI used to believe that if the cat licked the blueberry pie my mother made, I better tell my parents I ate half of it because cat spit was poison. This was after they made us all stick out our tongues and I still denied it.

    I used to believe that “ren” was the world “child” in some other language. As in, “Dear Parent, we are sending this letter to inform you that your child(ren) has done…. blah, blah, blah.”

    A certain family member of mine used to think that our mother was going to have his “burping mechanism” removed if he kept making himself belch. Another certain family member believed that if she buried her dead pet rabbit in Southpoint, his spirit would rise again a la Hazel from “Watership Down”, and run free.