‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ said some wise man/woman at some point in history. Knowledge always gives power to whoever holds it. But if your facts are skewed, you can land yourself in pretty hot water, sometimes in front of an audience.
As a kid, I was smug in the knowledge that I read a lot. That was my thing. Oh, I played games and studied and had fun, but I never ‘topped’ at any of it or was known exclusively for it. I was ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’. So while other girls were pretty, or super geniuses, or really sporty, I was different because I read. And though it was not a highly acclaimed or much coveted activity, this meant I had answers to most questions relating to grown-ups and problems in life. This also meant that I was rarely wrong and so once I believed something, I was pretty sure I was right. I was so sure that some of the things I was wrong about only came to light when I crossed my teens. Which begs the question,’ how many things am I still wrong about that I will find out in my forties or fifties or even never?’ Thankfully, this does not bother me at all in my comfortable fortress of complacency.
So, here are a couple of things that I was wrong about. It does not include the usual ‘kissing makes children’ (which I knew was not true but was still wrong about the actual procedure until my first Mills and Boon) and the ‘I am dying because I hit puberty’ (although I believed that completely and imagined everyone weeping for me) refrains that are common to most young girls.
1) All airplanes have parachutes!
Remember all the jokes you heard as kids that involved heads of enemy states in a falling plane with one parachute short and all its funny implications? Remember all the movies with rugged cowboys jumping out of planes with beautiful damsels in their arms into an Amazonian jungle? How was someone who had never been on a plane before to know that was only true for small planes. Or is it? The first time I flew, I was 20 years old and travelling alone. I had always wondered how, in an emergency, would all the aunties in sarees strap on their chutes. So, I listened to the safety instructions, admired the beautiful sunrise from my window and then pulled out the safety pamphlet to read the instructions for strapping on a parachute in an emergency. There weren’t any. That was the moment I realised that we had flotation devices in a plane that would only ever fly over land. Not cool! In fact, it was ridiculous. It still is I think.
2) Peppercorns are really the round heads of cloves!
For years I wondered why my mother bought peppercorns and cloves separately. I generously allowed that it would be too much work for her to remove the heads of cloves every time and so it was nice that someone else was doing it for her. I also believed that once removed from the stalk they shriveled and became darker like the peppercorns we know. I wonder why I never asked her. I found out just before leaving for college, thankfully.
3) A prayer in school ended with the very strange sounding affirmation of ‘Cactus’.
As an army officer’s daughter, I changed schools every 2 years. Always loved it. Having always heard myself referred to as someone who was ‘quick to pick up new stuff’, I had no reason to question myself. So, after just one day at a new school, I decided I had gotten the 4-line prayer that was recited before going home down pat. It was a fun prayer because everyone shouted out ‘Cactus’ at the end of it. I couldn’t figure it out. We weren’t in a desert, although the summers were pretty harsh there. And usually prayers in a convent school ended with ‘Amen’. I then decided that it was probably some Saint who lived in the desert. Thankfully, I fell ill just a month into the year and couldn’t say the prayers along with the others because my throat was hurting. Imagine my surprise when I realized that everyone was shouting ‘Protect us’ and not ‘Cactus’. Such a sad moment for fun prayers.
That’s about it, I think. The things I have been wrong about in my life. To date. *wink wink*
What about you?