Call me old fashioned, but there’s something about near-dismemberment by Chevy Cobalt that really sticks in my craw.
My mother’s early life was very different from mine. She grew up in Kuala Lumpur as part of a large family, something that remains completely alien to my small-city, only-child self. Before she went off the deep end, she tried to do her motherly duties by way of sharing some folksy wisdom with me; things that are usually passed down through the generations and recited with some air of mysticism. These little life tips rarely make any sense, even if they were once boiled in fact or strong superstition – it’s just How Things Are, and it will do you no good to question them.
I always assumed my mother was crazy, but it seems there may actually be something to some of her helpful tips. The “something” ranges from other people hearing the same thing from their mothers, like the “never give knives as a gift; always exchange a quarter instead or it’ll bring bad luck” that a few of you have also been told, to correlation-not-causation “proof”.
I wish I could remember all the things she told me instead of just the few that stand out. There are the completely nonsensical (and sadly untrue) – “eating your bread crusts will give you curly hair!”; the delightfully racist (and also untrue) – “if you sing at the dinner table, you’ll end up marrying a Chinaman!” , and those I still believe to this day, true or not – “an itchy ear means someone is talking about you!”.
Not all of the old wives’ tales were stories, though – some were just things she DID. A penny in every new purse or wallet, because giving an empty wallet meant you’d be broke all your life. Still setting out a full plate for my dad at every meal, including making him tea, in case he comes back and is hungry. Then there’s my personal favourite: putting walnuts in every corner of the house will keep the spiders away.
Logically, I know the walnuts are little more than Lisa’s Tiger-Repelling Rock. That being said, after the first month or so of mom being in that house which was virtually infested by man-eating spiders and their horrible horrible kin, I haven’t seen a single one. I asked why, and mom pointed to the walnuts – “spiders don’t like walnuts, so they don’t come in here anymore”. That doesn’t make *sense*. It’s just a nut in a shell! It has no special powers or anti-spider properties – and yet, mom’s house is spider-free. Who’s the crazy one here?
The answer is still her – okay, maybe she’s onto something re: walnuts, but she still pees in buckets – but it makes me wonder about the other tall tales she’s told me. Can I really prevent bad luck by knocking on wood? Will my sight become better if I eat carrots? Will it really fall off if I play with it too much? When I drop a fork or spoon, will a mysterious visitor appear within the hour?
I have a lot of research to do.