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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Worms

Sometimes we have days that make it hard for us to suspend our disbelief. What am I talking about this time? As adults, we have times when we are overwhelmed with what life throws in our path. Bills and pills, and all the wrong kinds of thrills. Instead of being frightened by scary stories in books or movies, we find plenty to frighten or frustrate us in our daily lives. We lose sight of the skill that is so highly developed in children, the thing I think of as suspending our disbelief.

Kids find it so easy to believe in things. They have their own special kinds of worries, of course, but they aren't so wrapped up in them that they have no ability to believe in the things people tell them. Ghosts? Yes, they are real. Their cousin told them about seeing one once. Werewolves? Vampires? Real. The Boogeyman - hey, their big sister saw him last Tuesday at her friend Julie's house. And Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, the good guys, are real too.

Because of this ability to believe and trust so wholeheartedly, kids will often take what adults say to them as being completely true. I, for one, fell for this hook, line, and sinker. Gram told me that she could read little boys' and girls' minds, and could tell if they even thought about doing something bad. Even worse than that, she told me that my legal guardian had a lot of private detectives working for him because he was an attorney. They were all over the place and would see me if I did something that I shouldn't be doing. You never knew where they might be. Between the two of those things it's a wonder that I wasn't a completely paranoid bundle of nerves, but it made me think twice about so much as crossing the street without using the crosswalk and walk signal!

During my stint in retail, I worked with a woman who was from Illinois, the state where I was born. She often told people that she was from Chicago, my birthplace, but she was from a much smaller town in the southern part of the state. She knew that nobody would have heard of this place, so just saying Chicago was much easier for her. I imagine it also stopped people from dismissing her as a small-town hick who didn't know anything. She was actually a very well-educated young woman, so I can understand her motivation.

We both found it pretty amazing and cool that we were from the same state but ended up knowing each other in Denver, Colorado. During our slow times at work, we would talk about all sorts of things, as people tend to do. She told me tidbits about her family and life, and I did the same. She related an incident when she was a child and made her father very upset. They were driving in a rural area of Illinois and got caught behind a farmer driving a tractor. Sheila blurted out something about him being in their way and being a slow, stupid farmer. Her father was angry about this, but didn't yell at her. He asked her if she thought her grandfather was stupid. Of course she didn't! Her father let her know that her grandfather was one of those slow-driving farmers and he was not stupid. He also let her know that farmers were important because they grew the food that she ate every day. She never forgot how bad she felt about her cruel remark, and always had respect for farmers after that. In fact, it became one of her dreams to one day have an organic farm. 

My other favorite story from her childhood also had to do with her father. He worked for the Coca-Cola company, as did many of the people in their area. Because Coca-Cola put the food on their table, they never bought any other brands of soft drinks. When Sheila asked her father why they never drank Pepsi, he told her that they only drank Coke because "Pepsi gives you worms." She was very young and believed it was true. One day when the family was out for a drive, her father had to stop for gasoline. Little Sheila went into the store with her father and saw that an employee of Pepsi was stocking his products in the cooler. She walked up to him and struck up a conversation. She told him that her family never drank Pepsi, they only drank Coke. "You know why? Because my daddy works for Coke. And because Pepsi gives you wo-orms!" She turned and trotted off before he could reply. I'm sure her dad was really proud of her that day!

Well, I guess that's it for me tonight. I believe I'll head into the kitchen and fill a glass with ice and pour in some cola. It's not Coke, though. I hope I don't get worms!