stevenpiziks: (Default)
stevenpiziks ([personal profile] stevenpiziks) wrote2017-07-19 08:10 am

Superstitions

When I was a kid, my parents firmly believed that you had to wait an hour after a meal before you could go swimming.  Swimming during that hour after eating would, at best, give you cramps (though these cramps were never specified--stomach cramps? leg cramps? menstrual cramps?), and at worst, you would somehow DIE (presumably because the cramps would make you double up and you'd drown).

This drove me and my siblings crazy.  Mostly it was that it never made the slightest bit of sense.  Every time we went to the beach, we'd eat lunch, and my mother--or grandmother--would say, "You have to wait an hour before swimming!  So go play." 

"Play what?" we'd demand.

"Go play on that playground over there," she'd say.  "Or play hide and seek.  Or tag.  Or whatever else you want.  But go play."

In other words, we could use all the muscles we used during swimming AS LONG AS WE WERE ON LAND??  How was it that running and jumping on land wouldn't kill us, but swimming would?  How did our cells know we were submerged?  "Hey Fred!  The body's underwater!  Cramp time!"  What the hell?

And why an hour?  So at 59 minutes and 59 seconds, we'd die if we put a toe into the water, but one second later, we were safe?  What?

On top of it all, my mother was a NURSE, and should have known better.

No, swimming after you eat isn't harmful in any way.

We also had this little rhyme: "Step on a crack, and you'll break your mother's back!"  It meant if you stepped on a crack in the sidewalk, your mother would die, so you had to watch where you were going.  A variant of this was "the devil's back," so you were supposed to step on as many as possible.  No one I know seriously believed either one, though--it was just a silly chant and an excuse to dance around on the sidewalk--so I don't know if this counted as a superstition.

The Mid-Atlantic states also have a superstition that says if you eat dessert after a meal of seafood, you'll DIE.  Literally keel over and die.  The sole exception to this rule is a dessert of lemon custard pie with a saltine crust.  Many people believe this superstition to this day, apparently.  This is another that falls apart if you look at it closely.  What does "dessert" mean?  Anything sweet?  Does yogurt count?  A soda?  How long after supper?  Midnight?  Not until dawn?  What if you have an early seafood supper and get hungry around 8:00 and snack on a pudding cup?  Will you die?  Seriously, people.

What superstitions did you grow up with?

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