Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll has a few more LIES WE WERE TOLD – INADVERTENTLY. Part 2 of a Series. She writes:

Most of the “lies” we were told as children – often BY children – were not so much lies as hilarious misinformation. No, seriously, worse even than MSNBC or The View.

Now our School District had at least two certifiably insane women teachers in grades K-6 whose main qualification appeared to be hating children. BUT we did not have blue-haired, nose-beringed, mentally ill gender fluid teachers to hand us how-to books with pictorial porn. No! We had to rely for our sex information on other students, perhaps a couple of years older. And what terrific information it was!

At age 9 I was informed with great confidence by a girl named Shirley that if I got in bath water after my baby brother had been in it I could get pregnant. And I remember thinking, “AFTER he was in it? What about at the same time? Boy am I in trouble!” And up to that time, I had thought that my chubby, adorable little 9-month-old brother was a fun bath toy.

Mama, who grew up in the Dust Bowl in South Dakota during the Depression did NOT believe in wasting water. All THREE of us kids (before puberty, obviously) were put in the bathtub together every night and scrubbed to a fine fare-thee-well in about two inches of water. It was not until I was in college that I was able to run that tub right up to the rim and marinate myself alone for many delicious minutes.

I was told by a group of older boys who were throwing rocks at the school windows that it was all okay because – wait for it – their “parents were taxpayers, so technically, they owned the school and had the right to break windows.” A few minutes later, the local Sheriff appeared – apparently called by an entirely different taxpayer who was not keen on replacing school windows – to disabuse them of that particular piece of misinformation. Later, when I told my father who the boys were, he scoffed and said, “Those boys’ parents haven’t paid enough taxes in their whole lives to cover even one window.” That’s part of the fun of living in a small town. Everybody knows your business.

I knew many high school girls that were told all manner of lies by high school boys hoping to “get lucky.” That they “loved” them; that they would still respect them in the morning; that they would NEVER tell anyone else, at least until they got out of the backseat and drove home. Some of these couples actually married and are still together, so maybe some of the things they said were not lies. I was not subject to these particular lies because you had to go on a date first before such lies were trotted out. I was the incredibly responsible teenage girl you wanted to babysit for your kids. Not only was I responsible, but I was ALWAYS available on Saturday night. Not that I’m bitter. I got the best guy in the end, so neener, neener.

Some of the “lies” we were told by our parents were to spare our feelings, such as when Spot finally caught that car he was chasing and our parents told us he had been sent “to a nice farm.”

My pet duck, Yakky, truly WAS sent to a nice farm when it became clear that he could not live forever in our basement. Yakky – who was given to me by a neighbor girl as a tiny baby Easter duck — was best friends with the Golden Lab Retriever next door. On sunny summer days you could find them sleeping together. I mean that in the literal meaning of “sleeping,” not in the euphemism for makin’ whoopee. No matter how hard Yakky tried to “identify” as a dog, whoopee was not possible even though they were clearly in love. A Labraquackle would probably fetch a nice price.

The Lab’s name was Bubba and. up until he met Yakky, he had been an excellent “duck” dog. Sadly, when Bubba’s owner, Cecil, got out his shotgun for duck-hunting season, Bubba ran and hid under the bed. This is an absolutely true story. Cecil considered suing us for ruining his duck dog, but his wife, who was best friends with my mother, talked him out of it.

Anyway, when winter came, we sent Yakky to an actual nice farm, but he did not know the ways of a duck in the wild. He was swimming on a pond when it froze over and the farmer had to work his way out to the middle of the pond and hack him out. Alas, this was only a temporary reprieve of Yakky’s brief life, as the farm kids had a pet fox and Yakky mistook it for a friendly dog, like himself. Ah, Nature is brutal and “natural selection” is not kind to ducks raised from baby ducklings in a basement.

Another reason for egregious lies to children is to bring some jolly myths and joy into our young lives, like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. At a pretty young age, most children cop to the fact that a lot of that is unlikely, not to mention impossible. A fat guy in a red suit in a sleigh pulled by reindeer comes down every chimney IN THE WORLD in one night? Seriously? But we stick with the story, because we have a tremendous vested interest in believing.

Apart from Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist parents who have to struggle with holidays in which other people’s children get gifts and festive trees and weeks of joyful anticipation, some parents simply do not think it is healthy to tell lies to kids.

That is one of many themes in the beautiful Miracle on 34th Street which we re-watched recently. Maureen O’Hara plays a divorced mother of the adorable and talented child actress Natalie Wood. She thinks she should raise her child without a sense of “wonder,” firmly grounded in reality. If you haven’t seen the movie in many years, it is a shining example of “they don’t make movies like this anymore.”

Since I was raised in a small town in Minnesota where the nearest Jewish families were 150 miles away in the Twin Cities and a “mixed” marriage included a Catholic and a Protestant, the cultural homogeneity made for a very fun season. “Diversity” SOUNDS like fun; but there is a lot to say for homogeneity. Ask Japan. Or the Lower East Side of New York, back in the day.

Even in elementary school – quite unimaginable now – we made red and green paper chains and snowflakes and decorated a tree in the corner of the classroom. We sang Christmas carols in Music Class. I think one year we even drew names for secret gift-giving, with a limit of 50 cents for the gifts. I dimly recall that “books” of Lifesavers (10 rolls) were sold for that amount and were popular. Butter Rum was my favorite and I tried to trade away all my other flavors for that one.

I do know that in Springfield, IL, where Jewish families were a small minority, Joe deeply resented being forced to sing Christmas carols, and that makes me sad. When the Left talks about Our Precious Democracy™, they almost always mean majority rules unless, of course, they are not in the majority. I would never countenance forcing or shaming Jewish children into singing uncomfortable songs. Minority rights are an important part of who we are as a Republic.

BUT should a minority of one be able to outvote everyone else? When workplace culture changed such that “flirting,” “bawdy talk,” and other things that made work almost bearable became tagged as “sexist” and “an oppressive climate for women,” the foreman came and took down the Farrah Fawcett picture in the print shop. You know the one – where it must have been quite chilly the day that Farrah’s picture was taken. I was the only woman in the shop, so you can imagine how much that increased my popularity! I told the foreman that I would sign a legally-binding affidavit to the effect that the poster didn’t bother me in the least. I mean, the vote would have been 80-1. What the heck?

But who’s to say 30 years after that I would not come back to claim that I had been so traumatized by that poster that I needed a lot of money to recover? Eighty-three million dollars sounds like a fair figure. Especially if the foreman (long dead, sadly) were to have called me a “wacko” and ruin my otherwise stellar non-wacko reputation. So, down came the poster.

Well, we – and by “we” I mean “I” – have wandered considerably off topic. Which, if memory serves, was “lies we were told by others.” Feel free to add your own. Next week we leave the personal for the odious political: Part 3 — Lies that you MUST believe AND repeat – OR ELSE. It’s getting to be a frightfully long list.

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