The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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March 27, 2013

BICKER: Understanding the fallacies of the world

CLINTON — Remember the saying, “Don’t believe everything you hear?”

Well, that statement couldn’t have been more true as I was listening to radio station WGN the other day.

On-air personality Garry Meier and the rest of the WGN crew took listeners to task and wanted to know what myths they had been told were true as they were growing up.

One listener called in and said, he was told drinking coffee would make him short. I had never heard that one before.

When I was a kid, I used to hear that drinking coffee would put hair on your chest, which kind of grossed me out. However, at this stage in my life, I know for a fact that statement is not true. If it was, I would probably look a lot more like a gorilla. I love drinking coffee in the morning. I have become addicted to the rich, aromatic smell in my kitchen at 5 a.m. For me, there is nothing better.

Unfortunately, these aren’t the only coffee myths I’ve heard floating around. When I was a kid, I was led to believe that if fair, blonde-haired people drank coffee it would make their skin and hair turn dark. Well, I think I also can put that myth to rest since I am still a pasty-white chick with blonde hair.

Another common misconception out there concerns chewing gum. Remember hearing your mother say, “If you accidentally swallow that piece of gum, it will take seven years for it to digest?” So not true. I can remember being horrified as a youngster after I swallowed a stick of gum or two. I was completely freaked out to the point that I wanted someone to administer the Heimlich maneuver.

As I listened to callers rattle off sayings, I couldn’t help but chuckle when I heard this one. Remember hearing this warning from Mom or Dad, “If you keep crossing your eyes, they will freeze that way.” No matter how many times I saw kids in grade school cross their eyes and stick their tongues out, their faces always miraculously went back to normal. It’s too bad really, some probably would have looked a lot better if their faces had frozen that way.

Another fallacy is — “A penny dropped from the Empire State Building could kill someone.” It would hurt barreling down at you, but not kill you. And on the plus side, you will be one cent richer.

As I was writing this column, I asked my co-workers for a little help on this subject. I wanted to dig a little deeper.

Here are some good ones from Pam Reedy, Lori Reis and Sherri Enwright:

• Eating bread crust will make your hair curl;

• Don’t stare into the sun or you will go blind;

• Don’t step on a crack or you will break your mother’s back.

• Don’t go outside with your hair wet or you will catch cold;

• I brought you into this world, I can take you out;

• Stop crying or I will give you something to cry about;

• Two wrongs don’t make a right; and

• If your friends jump off a bridge, does that mean you will too?

So never fear, you can stroke your pet toad, drink all the black coffee you want, swallow a stick of gum and safely walk under the Empire State Building. What a wonderful world.

Angie Bicker has been employed with the Clinton Herald since 2001. She can be reached at angiebicker@clintonherald.com.

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