[30] Not the Sharpest Tool in the Shed

Recently, I saw a post on Facebook regarding adults recalling some funny things they thought when they were kids. For example, one person wrote that when they saw flashbacks in movies, they thought it was pretty cool that they had the foresight to be making movies 20-30 years back.

I have plenty of them. I’ll probably update this list as I remember things. But for now, here’s a short list. Feel free to share yours too!

1. The Devil lives in the sewer: The house I grew up in was close to the storm drain. It was always a bad thing. Whenever a tennis ball rolled down our driveway and we couldn’t catch up to it, it was gone. Forever.

I knew early on that Hell was “down there.” I didn’t have a concept have how far below, so below ground level was Hell. Hence, the devil lived down there. I remember at least once that my playmates and I would throw rocks down there and hear the echo. Perhaps we wanted to taunt the Devil to come out. Of course, he never did.

Still, to this day, I feel strange about walking or parking near a storm drain. I have this thought that my car is going to roll back and fall in, just like the lost tennis balls of yore.

This is a real tree. It can be trimmed -- both ways.

This is a real tree. It can be trimmed — both ways.

2. Christmas = Time to trim the tree (literally): One year near Christmastime, my mom said “Let’s trim the tree.” I must have been 6 or 7. I envisioned my mom and sister going out to the back yard and trimming the tree — with a chainsaw.

It didn’t make sense to me though. In the first place, we had an artificial tree. What would trimming it do?

It’s a good thing this didn’t occur during Thanksgiving. If someone had mentioned the turkey and “all the trimmings,” I would have imagined a pair of turkey eyes pleading with me.

3.  The Birthday Suit – The one piece of clothing that’s always a fit: As my birthday was approaching one year, my mom asked, “What are you going to wear, your birthday suit?” I pictured a guy in a powder blue suit with bowtie, leading a marching band.

Later on, when I learned what a “birthday suit” is, I though, “Oh. Okay. Now I get what a ‘birthday suit’ is, in that it’s not a special suit that you wear, but going naked. And for many years, that is how I understood it.

Then, within the last 1 or 2 years (I’m sad to say), I realized the connection between being naked and “birthday suit.” Yes, I’m slow. Very slow. Just call me Turtle.

4. Milk doesn’t do a body good; it makes you pregnant: Early on I had heard something about breastfeeding – Liquid comes out of your boob so you can feed a baby. As a kid, I loved sabaw (broth, especially ramen) and with cereal I had milk.

For a while after, I tried to resist having ramen or consuming milk. I didn’t want to get pregnant. Nobody told me about the birds and the bees. I put two and two together.

Yup, what a smart little kid I was, so I thought. It kinda makes me wonder how old I really was when I understood where babies came from. Not sure if that came during 6th grade Sex Ed or before then. Seeing people kiss on soap operas, though, did make me want to urinate, though.

5. Public hairs are gross: Long before I hit that age or called them curlies, they were called “public” hairs. This was something I could not understand. Where did public hairs come from? Could they only be seen in the presence of others?

I don’t think I ever asked my siblings, who gave me the idea that “public” hairs were what they were called. It wasn’t until Sex Ed that I found out there’s no “L” in the name.

6.  Once it goes down the kitchen drain, it’s gone forever (but the Devil doesn’t live down there): One of the cool things about having a house with a back yard was finding treasures. Sometimes I’d just walk around out there and find stuff. One day I found a bouncy E.T. ball. It was silver and kind of foamy.

It probably belonged to the neighbor boy next door, but it was mine now. But not for long.

One night my sister was washing the dishes. I can’t recall the exact series of events, but I do know this: My sister took the ball (it was the size of a baseball) and threw it down the kitchen drain.

I was sad. I probably cried (okay, I’m 99.99% sure I cried). Water went down the drain, along with my/my neighbor’s ball.

Eventually my sister retrieved the ball — with a fork. So, the ball was still intact, except for the 4 aligned holes in it .

7. Adam’s Finger Lickin’ Good Chicken Bone: One of the observations I made early in life was that my dad had a more prominent “thing” showing in his neck. He would clear his throat a lot, and I would notice that “thing” move up and down. However, when I looked at my neck, I could feel it, but couldn’t see it.

So, I must have asked my dad about it. He said that when he was young, he swallowed a chicken bone. And from that day on, it stayed there. I knew my dad loved drumsticks, so I just imagined that what I was seeing was one end of that drumstick… forever lodged in my dad’s throat.

Also, during my younger years, I would eat a lot of fish. My mom would de-bone little pieces and drop them on my plate. I remember my dad saying that I should be careful not to swallow the bones; otherwise, it would get stuck in my stomach and start to grow.

I just imagined one fish bone sticking into my stomach, like the sword in the stone. To this day, I dread swallowing fish bones. I am still ghetto in that I will eat canned salmon. Even though the bones are soft and edible, I still pick out as much as I can.

8. My vision could etch glass: Before I got stuck with glasses and contacts, I had no problems seeing distance. My dad always seemed to have vision problems (though his eye doctor says he has 20/20 vision). One day when I was about 5, he asked me to either read something or look at something because he was having difficulty.

So, when I did, he said, “That’s great! Your eyes are so sharp!” At that moment, I imagined two pointy, metal screw-like objects coming out of my orbital sockets. They were much like the things that came out of the feet of this robot toy (handed down to me from my brother) that I used to poke two holes into my sister’s terry cloth shorts. While she was still wearing them. The two holes looked much like the bit marks our kitties leave in the corners of boxes, or corners of anything they can sink their teeth into, actually.

Lesson learned: Everything is not as bad it seems, especially if it comes from the mouth of your older siblings.

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