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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Childhood misconceptions

In the short documentary that's part of the Michel Gondry music video collection, he says that when he was a child, he lived on the edge of a city, and always wondered if the earth was a solid ball of city with a splotch of countryside on it, or a solid ball of city with a splotch of city on it. This is one of the more whimsical childhood misconceptions I've heard, but I think everyone had at least a couple.

My dad said, for example, that when he was a kid growing up in Hartford, he was always confused why the state of Connecticut was sometimes shown with its little appendage on the bottom left, and sometimes with it on the top right. The version with it on the top right, he later realized, was the United States.

Likewise, for me, in the apartment building where my grandparents lived, there was a set of emergency lights mounted on the wall next to the door of the neighboring apartment. One time I asked what they were for, and the response got scrambled enough in my young brain that for quite some time after that I was under the impression that there were emergency personnel (EMTs, firefighters, etc.) who waited in that apartment until they were needed to respond to incidents.

I would enjoy hearing about any other childhood misconceptions in the comments, if you're willing to share.

6 comments:

Lin said...

For folks in the east, the pronunciation of Yosemite seems to often be a problem. I always thought it was yo-si-might', while one brother (Dick) thought it was yo-si-mi'-tee.

But my favorite was manhole covers. To this day when I see one, 'lawyer' comes to mind. Seems I was walking with my dad after work, and pointed to one in the road, "What's that?" Well, happens that he'd been arguing with a particularly obstinate one at work all day, and one he knew happened to be walking on the other side of the street. When he saw the guy, he said, "That's a lawyer." 'Twas several years after that, that he finally figured out what was going on when I'd point somewhere in the street and say "Lawyer." I suspect that, to some degree, he forever thought of it as one of his finer mistakes.

zach said...

Before I could read, I heard people talking about this book "Tequila Mockingbird" for years.

Anonymous said...

I thought "purpose" meant the opposite of what it does, so when my babysitter asked me if I spilled food on the floor "on purpose" I vehemently nodded yes. I got a scolding and soon learned my lesson.


Alex

PS. I also had heard of "Tequila Mockingbird."

teague said...

Thanks for those entertaining misconceptions. I guess they also illustrate why such misconceptions tend not to last too long...

'laine said...

Did you know that whales are SO big, you can't fit more than one in an ocean at a time??

Quigliscious said...

When I was young I thought that some women grew breasts and some didn't. I hoped I would be one of the ones that didn't. I can't remember when that one got cleared up for me, but I'm sure it was entertaining for everyone else involved... :-)