Recently a friend on Facebook posted a challenge: Name something dumb you believed as a kid.
Oh, gurl. Let’s start with Kindergarten.
- I was asked to play an Indian in the Thanksgiving Day play. I freaked out because I thought that feathers grew out of Indian’s heads and, ergo, I would have to grow feathers out of my head. I became so hysterical about the idea of growing feathers out of my head that my mother had to take me out of Kindergarten. Yeah. I was a Kindergarten drop out. Something my mother never let me forget.
- I also thought that when a person died on television, they used terminally ill patients so they could have a shot at stardom or people on death row as part of their sentence.
- I was told that if you sang at the dinner table, Satan would drag you down to Hell. This idea plagued me. I worried what would happen if I accidentally started humming a tune at the table? Did that count? I could envision the linoleum of the kitchen floor bubbling from the heat as the hellfire cracked through, opening a hole so that Satan could drag me down to Hell. Someone also told me that if you heard someone calling your name three times, and if you answered it, Satan would drag you down to Hell.
Satan turned out not to be the great threat I imagined he’d be.
- I believed that bats turned into people. I had seen it in an old black and white movie and that made it real as far as I cared. I was 7 and tried to check out a book from the school library about bats to further research the phenomenon. The librarian said the book was too hard for me and challenged me to read it. I did and that got me slapped in gifted classes and my road to Nerdom was solidified.
- When I was 9, a babysitter told me that according to Ancient Tennessee Law, if you found a horse in the field and it had no saddle, you could take it home. Well, we happened to live in a stone cottage that was surrounded by fields. And, I knew where there was a horse. My cousin, Mandy and I went out today, put a rope around the horse’s neck and took it home. My mom and aunt came home from a beer run to find a horse in the garage. I remember her screaming, “THEY HANG HORSE THIEVES, NIKKI!”
She made me take the horse back, Ancient Tennessee Laws not withstanding.
- My grandmother, a backwoods country woman so don’t judge her too harshly, once told me that if you took a sponge, you could “wash the color off a black person and they’d be snowy white underneath” because it was the ‘mark of Cain’. As a kid, that idea fascinated me. I desperately wanted to sneak into a funeral home and test it. Ya know. For science.
- As I got older, I was a diehard believer in all things weird. UFOs. Aliens. Loch Ness Monster. Ghosts. Bigfoot.
When I was in elementary school, I started up a Monster Hunters Club. We entered a Cryptozoology exhibit in the yearly science fair. We won an Honorable Mention. My teacher, Mrs. Tarkington, even allowed the club to perform a play where Trent Ridley put on a furry parka, we hunted him down and then autopsied him, throwing guts and bones into the classroom.
Mrs. Tarkington retired after that year.