Life’s journey rife with urban legends

As a boy, I never ate the last third of a banana.
Those little black dots you see down there at the bottom?

by Chris Bryan


As a boy, I never ate the last third of a banana.

Those little black dots you see down there at the bottom?

Tarantula eggs. Consumed, they’ll hatch in your stomach and lead to a whole bunch of fun.

My sister told me this.

Because she was older, her word, of course, was gospel.

It was only much later that I learned the truth, that those black spots are actually microvitamins designed by NASA engineers to give you superpowers.

But it’s surprising how durable urban legends, old wives’ tales, and even big sister’s headgames can be, in the face of pretty strong evidence to the contrary.

Sure, we grownups no longer fear stepping on a crack in the sidewalk for fear of putting our dear mothers in traction.

Yet many of us still feel a pang of hesitation about opening an umbrella inside, or walking beneath a ladder.

And when a black cat crosses our path many of us are prone to say to ourselves, oh boy, bad day ahead.

Broke a mirror? We’re talking seven years, pal.

But seriously. When I was a kid, the real plague was chewing gum.

At the age of 10, I often stuffed massive wads of Big League Chew (designed to resemble chewing tabacky, but bright pink) in my mouth and, when it lost its sweetness, swallowed the whole gob of it.

For some reason, I didn’t worry about the fact it would take seven years to digest. At any given time I must have had 10, 15 pounds of the stuff working its way through my innards.

It’s no wonder my non-existent jump shot prevented me from getting on the basketball team in Grade 8.

It’s lucky, though, that I never ate a whole bag of pop rocks followed by a can of Coke. As we all know, that’s how little Mikey (“He likes it!”) of the Life cereal commercials died. OK, maybe that’s not true, but General Foods apparently distributed thousands of flyers, and wrote letters to school principals in a futile attempt to dispel the myth.

Mikey was a cute kid. Today he’s apparently an ad exec in New York.

I’m not so cute. If you ever meet me in person don’t be shocked by my appearance.

See, when I was eight, I made a really silly face. And yep, you guessed it – it stayed that way. Watched too much TV a couple years later and I went cross-eyed. What a mess.

So maybe, some of these urban legends and the like are true. There are several others, though, that many folks still believe and that I’ve recently learned are patently false.

For one, men do not think about sex every seven seconds. It’s actually nine.

Searing meat does not “lock in” the juices. But it does make a yummy crust on your steak.

And earwigs, thankfully, will not crawl inside your ear while you’re sleeping and eat your brain.

But do be careful if you have a dog.

A friend of mine said that if you pat your dog’s head in a certain place, it will cause brain damage and ultimately, death.

That’s why I always scratch my Lab retriever under the neck. Just to be safe.

Bananas, thankfully, are OK to eat. Peel and all.

Apples aren’t. Unless you like razor blades.

Chris Bryan is editor of the

New Westminster NewsLeader.