Saturday, December 3, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes ...

Dear wholesome reader,

What kind of a world do we live in where innocence is seen as immaturity?  Where purity is considered the equivalent of naïveté?

I remember once a friend referred to some obscene behavior in the presence of my little brother before I could put the brakes on her conversation, and he innocently asked what she was talking about.  She looked at me and said, "Are you kidding me, he doesn't know what this is about?  He needs to join the real world."  I was appalled.  "He's ten," was my reply, "and there's no reason to fill his mind with that."  I'm not sure what kind of 'real' world these people live in, but I enjoy a world where my mind does not have to be filled with your perverted images and stories.

On a more humorous note, a group of us were discussing the hilariousness of youth the other day and I asked them what sorts of silly things they did or thought when they were fresh-faced youngsters.

The confessions came thick and fast.

You know how you can kill flies by snapping a towel?  One of them accidentally whipped his mom in the eye with the towel.  Later, he and his mom were unloading the car; he tried to close the rear hatch, and when it crunched down he realized he had slammed his poor mother's head in the door!  She survived his childhood, somehow.

Another revealed a more sinister side.  When he was three, he had drawn a picture of he and his mother holding hands.  How sweet!  When he was five, he was mad at her for some reason.  Taking the picture, her marched up to her and slowly ripped it down the middle, severing the clasped hands in the middle.

I know they were telling the truth, because you can't make this up!

They were discussing how horrible their week was one day, when one of the guys looked mournfully away. "No matter how bad it is," he said in a hushed voice, "it can't be as bad as the time I found a dead cat in the litter box."  I laughed so hard I cried.  He explained: they had purchased a litter box that could be sealed airtight, theoretically to keep odors from escaping.  I am not sure I understand the purpose of this box; at any rate, a cat got trapped in there and they didn't know until they opened it and found the lifeless corpse.

When I was little, I remember I would always wander into the kitchen around dinnertime when Mom was simmering things on the stove, washing things in the sink, mixing things in the bowl.  "What's for dinner?" I would inevitably ask.  And she always answered the same: "Pig snouts!"  The incredible thing is that I always believed her.  I never once doubted that she had a pot of rolling, jostling, fleshy pink snouts bubbling in the pot, and I was mystified as to why they never appeared on the dinner table.  To this day, I can see that image in my mind's eye.

I also thought pickles grew in the ocean; that explained their saltiness.  I pictured them rolling up on the beach, seaweed trailing as the waves pushed them from the depths.  I thought drugstores were dens of sin, because - hello - they sold drugs!  And one of the guys told me he always thought a strip-mall had strip clubs!

For some reason, I remember when we were little we always treasured the bruises on bananas.  We would select a banana from the bunch based on how likely it appeared that it was bruised inside the peel, and we would eat around the bruise and save it to the end.  I imagine it was probably sweeter than the rest of the banana, and that was why we loved it so much.

But there was one food that I had a deep fear of growing up, and it wasn't until I was in my late teens and was inspired to do some investigative work that I even learned the truth.  Mincemeat.  Where did this fear come from, you may ask?  I will tell you.  It was Thanksgiving, and Grandma and Mom were bringing pies from the kitchen and setting them on the table.  "Here's mincemeat," my grandma said.  "What's in that?" I asked curiously.  I remember she and Mom exchanging A Look.  "Oh no," my grandma said, "you do not want to know what is in that."  I was horrified.  I pictured chopped eyeballs, miscellaneous gut-strings, repulsive ingredients of all manner.  For years I did not know what was in mincemeat ... I never ate it.  One day I read a recipe and realized it is now, traditionally, just very richly spiced apples, currants, raisins.  I told Grandma about this story and she had no recollection of her devastating words!

But confusion can work both ways - when we were all discussing the menu for Thanksgiving one evening, somebody mentioned pickled beets.  "Dad loves those!" we said, laughing hysterically at our witty sarcasm.  Everybody knows Dad hates pickled beets vehemently.  However, we did not realize that not everyone caught the sarcasm in our voice: dinner was in full sway when Grandma came out with a bowl of glistening red orbs and proudly set them down in front of Dad.  "Pickled beets - I got them especially for you!"  He was paralyzed with shock!

I remember standing in church during worship when I was about five.  I knew Mom had a pack of gum in her purse.  "Mom," I whispered, "can I have some gum?"  "After the singing," she whispered back. The song ended and I awaited the promised treat.  As the next song began, Mom made no move to pass me some gum and I was grieved to realize she must have forgotten already!

When I was babysitting a couple weeks ago, the little girl climbed onto my lap so I could brush her hair.  "Id did a bobbo taya!?" she asked excitedly.  I looked to her brother, a year older, for translation.  He obligingly said, "Thee thaid, ith thith a bawbers chaya."  A barber's chair!  I started laughing.  "How," I said, "did you know what she was saying?"  He shrugged.  "Wutty dess!"  Lucky guess!?  I laughed harder, and they asked me, "What so funny?" "Sometimes you say funny things," I told them.  They threw back their blonde heads and screamed with laughter.

Some years ago a family member purchased a large new home, and outside there was a beautiful fountain.  "Wow!" said my little brother, probably five or six at the time.  "Is that where you throw your pennies?"  I remember my relative laughing and saying, "Oh no ... we're saving those!"

What confusing things did you think when you were little?  What charming (read: ridiculous) things have you heard from children lately?  Did you ever put on plays or concerts for the folks?

Always in a pickle,

Mrs H

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