When I was a kid my relatives told me some interesting stories. As I grew older, I realized there wasn’t much truth to them.
There was the story about the panther statue that graced my grandparent’s coffee table. My grandfather told me that a Chinese nobleman gave it to his great-grandfather as a symbol of their friendship. To prove this, I was shown the bottom of the statue where “Made in China” was printed. The panther had green jewels for eyes. “Chinese jade”, Grampa told me. “Very valuable”. It wasn’t until I saw the same statue at the Goodwill store that I realized the truth. I’m sure Grampa was looking down at me, laughing.
When my mother told me she found me under a cabbage leaf I believed her. That is, until I told my brother, who laughed his head off and told everybody what I’d said. That joke lasted about three years, during which I was called Garden Slug, or simply, Slug. Not good for the ego.
A friend of mine explained why colored eggs were called Easter eggs. “Certain rabbits, called Easter rabbits, lay eggs once a year,” she said. “That’s why they’re called Easter eggs.” It made perfect sense at the time. Until I asked my uncle how to tell which of the bunnies that ran through our yard were the special ones. He listened quietly as I explained what my friend had said, then told me the truth. I don’t know how he kept from laughing. I was so glad I hadn’t shared my “knowledge” with my high school class.
Of course, I’m not blameless. I told my kids the ice cream truck came to take bad kids away. Every time they heard the jingle they’d hide. But one day, I heard my son say, “Hey! Jason just went to that truck and he’s walking away with an ice cream cone!” By that time, I figure I’d saved about twenty bucks over the course of the summer. Ah, well.
Currently, I Google every claim and call folks on them if their statements aren’t true. I’m not always thanked for my educational research and in fact, have lost friends when I’ve pointed out their misguided factoids. While I’m not happy about the loss of friendship it beats the embarrassment of passing on false information.
Now that I know the truth about where babies come from, where eggs come from, and that no Chinese nobleman befriended my great-great-grandfather, I’m much less likely to be ridiculed.
But I still laugh out loud whenever I hear an ice cream truck.