Friday, September 14, 2012

Speaking of Old Wives' Tales

Recently, a friend and I were discussing Old Wives' Tales. More specifically, we were wondering whatever happened to them.  These interesting little nuggets of advice and information that, at least when I was a child, seemed to materialize out of nowhere a million years ago. They made anyone who uttered them sound smarter and more capable as they offered solutions to poverty, illness, even interpersonal conflicts.  While each generation often takes the liberty of revising some of the more common classics, most of the Tales remain in tact, even to this day. Yet I so rarely hear them used anymore.  Is it because I am older now, and childless, and perhaps lack the two primary reasons Wives' Tales usually find their way into a conversation?  Without youth in my life - either mine or that of my non-existent offspring - am I just missing out on these little bits of wisdom as they continue to happen around me?

After my Wives' Tales conversation, I was inspired to come up with a list of the ones that I remember from childhood.  Wives' Tales my parents and grandparents, even a few of my teachers used to guide - and sometimes warn - me as I made my way through life's daily trials.  So, here are a few personal favorites:

  • If you sit too close to the television, you'll go blind.
  • If you swim immediately after eating, you'll drown.
  • Bad luck will be yours if you: break a mirror, open an umbrella indoors, step on a sidewalk crack, or walk under a ladder. (Though you can reverse the bad luck by throwing salt over your shoulder)
  • If your right hand itches, money is coming your way.  But if you scratch it, you will lose the money before it arrives.
  • Three butterflies together mean good luck
  • If you shiver suddenly, someone is walking over your grave
  • If you bite your tongue while eating, you have recently told a lie
  • It will rain if you kill a ladybug.

Do any of these sound familiar?  Do any of them sound believable?  (I ask because, at one time, several of them seemed perfectly sensible to me - which is probably why I have a salt-covered floor in my kitchen and a butterfly net on my back porch). 

Whether you call them Wives'Tales, superstitions, rules of thumb, or just words to live by, what are some of your old favorites?  Or some of your new ones?  And am I the only one who feels like these treasures have somehow made a gradual exit out of our daily conversations?  Sometimes I wish each day included a Wives' Tale to make me stop, think, chuckle perhaps, and possibly even consider an alternative approach to life once in awhile.  A Wives' Tale a day ... interesting concept. Maybe, as with everything else in life, there is an app for that  And if one doesn't yet exist, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they make one.

Looking forward to your list!

Until next time.
~~ Hasky

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