Incorrect Childhood Impressions

Kids say the darndest things. Well, I was kind of a shy kid, so the things I said weren’t too darned, but the things I thought were considerably darned. I could get an idea in my head entirely out of nowhere and somehow come to understand it as law, or hear something and somehow rationalize my erroneous comprehension of it.

Some of these are too good not to share. Following is a compilation of some of my more prominent wacky beliefs that I’ve held at various points in my childhood.

When I was about ten years old, for some reason, I believed that each person had a certain amount of times they were permitted to swear before they got barred out of heaven. I don’t know why, it just made sense to me. I just thought it was a reasonable policy–you get a certain amount of free passes until the zero tolerance kicked in, like you had a certain quota of swear words you could meet before getting removed from the afterlife’s exclusive VIP list.

I was suspicious of Fruit Gushers because I was convinced that consuming the delicious fruit-flavored snack would transform my head into the fruit of the gummy I was eating, as depicted in the commercials. To be fair, it was false advertising–I remember a commercial in which a kid with spiky hair and an oversized yellow tshirt ate a watermelon-flavored Fruit Gusher and his head immediately morphed into a watermelon. I didn’t want to take any risks, so I steered clear of the Gushers until I was old enough to feel slightly more confident that I would retain my usual head shape upon consumption. Better safe than sorry.

The neighbors of my childhood house were Barbara and Mike Jaeger, pronounced “Yay-gerr.” Growing up, my parents would always refer to them as “the Jaegers,” as in “I’m surprised the Jaegers are letting their grass get this high,” and “The Jaegers had an awful lot of candles lit last night…” or “I wonder if the Jaegers know about all the disappearances that are happening in town.” So, all this Jaeger-talk referring to the people we lived next to led me to believe that “Jaegers” was a synonymous word for “neighbors,” as in “All my Jaegers seem friendly,” or “Of all my Jaegers, these ones have the most black garbage bags festering at the end of their driveway for trash day.” So yeah, I thought my neighbors’ last name meant the same thing as “neighbor.”

When I was a kiddo, and I imagined myself as a high schooler, I always saw myself in gray, white, and blue basketball shorts, a blue “GV” crewneck sweatshirt, and tennis shoes, walking confidently into my small hometown public library, my medium-length hair pulled into a ponytail. That’s just how elementary school ‘me’ thought I’d be like when I was eight years older. I’m not going to say that my prediction was totally wrong, but I will say that I haven’t worn basketball shorts in public in at least seven years, and I would never, never wear a sweatshirt repping my hometown high school. But other than that, perhaps almost dead-on.

After watching the new King Kong in like fifth grade, my friend Bill and I thought it would be so cool to go adventuring around Skull Island. “It’s so cool there!” “There’s so much danger and adventure!” “I wish we could go there!” We got it in our heads that if we jumped from a high enough altitude and believed hard enough, we could create and travel through some sort of portal (a portal entirely willed into existence) to Skull Island from the King Kong (2005) movie starring Jack Black. So, we climbed a couple trees in my backyard, did a lot of hoping and intense eye-squeezing-shut-ing, and a lot of falling, but did not wind up in Skull Island, regrettably. Perhaps one day I’ll accidentally stumble into that Skull Island portal from a banana peel or something, fifteen years later.

I used to think it was illegal to have the lights on inside a car while driving at night. I don’t know how that one got instilled in my mind, but it was always something of urgency to turn the lights off as soon as possible, like our lightning bug of a car flying down the highway was some sort of felony. I used to think I wasn’t allowed to drink water in the car while in motion because in the PC version of the board game The Game of Life, one of the spaces you could land on said, “Don’t drink and drive.” I used to think JCPenney and Pennies were two different stores. I used to think the phrase was “This s’morning” instead of “This morning” because the words run together so much. Come to think of it, “s’morning” sounds like a form of grieving after you try to take a bite out of s’more and the marshmallow falls out the back.

In any case, I clearly had the wrong impression on a variety of things in life. All I’m saying is that I may have had some misleading influences in my life; it’s not my fault that no one ever talked about any other neighbors except the Jaegers, and it’s not my fault that you can technically “drink and drive” with other beverages than alcoholic ones. And it is certainly not my fault that no one ever clarified the specifics on swearing–I mean, how was I supposed to know that apparently God is accepting of even the sailors in this world? Ya just gotta let a kid know, otherwise, they start getting these darned thoughts.

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