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Alaska ISN'T an island?!
January 12, 2013 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Que Sera Sera posts about "Weird incorrect facts from childhood that other people have kept in their heads without reconsidering until the moment it hits them." Lots of people are learning new things in the comments. Via defectiveyeti.com
posted by artychoke (625 comments total) 122 users marked this as a favorite

 
Unalaska is an island. So it makes sense that Alaska is not.
posted by Flunkie at 9:44 AM on January 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


I thought female breasts were always full of milk.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:51 AM on January 12, 2013


All dogs aren't male and all cats aren't female?

?!
posted by mazola at 9:53 AM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Since you mention cats and dogs, cartoons taught me that they were natural enemies and could not co-exist peacefully. When I visited an out-of-town aunt and uncle who owned both, I couldn't understand why they weren't fighting.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:56 AM on January 12, 2013 [20 favorites]


A couple years ago, my overly-educated lifetime professional globe-trotting mother was talking about how her garden had grown so thick that she'd need a "mah-sheh-TAY" to cut it all down.

She meant 'machete,' of course.
posted by incessant at 9:56 AM on January 12, 2013


"When I was ~5 years old we camped a few times at a place called Plaskett Creek. My dad's always called it Plaskett Crick. I didn't realize it was Creek until a few years ago when driving past it."

Their Dad probably just grew up speaking the Yinzer/Pittsburghese dialect.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:59 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought that bird eggs were fertilised after being laid- until I was an adult. I think it has something to do with the fact that I saw some kind of nature program which showed that fish eggs are fertilised outside of the female's body (right?) so for some reason applied that to all egg-laying creatures.
posted by cilantro at 10:03 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Until I was 30, I thought my childhood dog actually went to a farm.

It was hard to be indignant on the phone with my parents laughing so hard.
posted by persona at 10:06 AM on January 12, 2013 [54 favorites]


Crick rather than creek is pretty common rural pronunciation. There are cricks all up and down my great grandma's farm out in Missoura.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:07 AM on January 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


I loved this one:
Until I was about 9, I thought that the laugh track on TV shows was the sound of everybody who was watching a show, somehow collected through their TVs and piped into everybody else's sets. Sometimes (oh man, I'm embarrassed even typing this) I would sit close to the TV and laugh extra loud so that the people in other houses would know I wasn't stupid, and that I got the jokes on the TV.


Speaking for myself, I was in my late 20's by the time I realized that in the song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus", Santa is actually just the kid's father dressed up.

I also used to think I had an Aunt Annette, but it was actually just my mom's friend Antoinette.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:08 AM on January 12, 2013 [33 favorites]


When I was a kid, while driving down to Myrtle Beach, my dad would tell this joke about a old native guy named Falling Rock who went missing many years ago. The punchline was that the "Watch for Falling Rock" signs we'd see driving through the mountains referred to him. For years, I didn't realize he was telling a joke and thought it was all true.
posted by davebush at 10:09 AM on January 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


I was well into my 20s (30s?) when I realized the swirly thing in 'The Bay' logo was actually a 'B'.
posted by mazola at 10:10 AM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Relatedly, the AskMe Doing It Wrong thread.
posted by Westringia F. at 10:10 AM on January 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


When I was about 5, the nuns that ran my school said they were going on a mission to Ireland. I had in my head that Ireland was some tropical country with palm trees and golden beaches.

Also, I thought my mother's friend Rhoda was called Rover.
posted by Jehan at 10:11 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought three musketeers were full of bread for a long time. Sorta like a twix, but with a sweet dough/cake center.

I thought every one I ate for many many years was simply defective.
posted by Lord_Pall at 10:11 AM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


My confession: "For all intents and purposes" vs. "for all intensive purposes." :(

I wrote that phrase in dozens of essays throughout middle school, high school, and college, and no teacher ever corrected me. (They just gave me A's on all of the essays.) It took until the age of nineteen, when my boyfriend finally corrected me, to realize that I had been saying and writing the phrase completely wrong for my entire life.
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston at 10:12 AM on January 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


I did not figure out that "Adam Ant" is "adamant" until a post about him on Metafilter. Recently.

Also, my mother had me convinced that she had literal eyes in the back of her head (that she could hide at will) until I was much to old to believe such a thing!
posted by theredpen at 10:13 AM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also, I thought those nuns were called Caramelites because they wore brown.
posted by Jehan at 10:13 AM on January 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


LMNO are four letters. LMNO are not one.
posted by TedW at 10:14 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


OH, and growing up around people with thick New England accents made me insert phantom "R"s into all sorts of words -- I thought the name "Candice" should properly be pronounced "Canders," for instance, because I was used to translating in my head. (Also thought "Abenaki" was "Abernaki," etc.)

UNTIL HIGH SCHOOL with the Canders thing. Thank god I always called her Candy.
posted by theredpen at 10:16 AM on January 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Oh yeah, my wife still corrects me about using the term "A Couple" to refer to quantity other than 2.

I always equated it to being like "A Few", or "Some". She's continually re-explaining it, but it just doesn't feel right to use it to refer to exactly 2.
posted by Lord_Pall at 10:16 AM on January 12, 2013 [17 favorites]


Enigma/enema.

I actually referred to Elgar's Op. 36 as the Enema Variations.
posted by mazola at 10:17 AM on January 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


I was into my 20's before someone corrected me on pronouncing "lapel" like "lay-ple" and "hyperbole" as "hyper-bowl." I still think my pronunciations fit the words better.
posted by cmoj at 10:19 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was probably in highschool when I realized there had only been two World Wars. Whenever it was time to clean my room growing up my parents would look upon my Lego and lament, "It looks like World War III broke out in here!" I assumed they were making a true comparison, rather than hyperbole.
posted by steef at 10:20 AM on January 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


Lord_Pall, I also thought a couple just meant some or a few until some advanced age. I still sort of use it wrong - my four year old corrected me a few days ago. "There are only a couple of days of Christmas vacation left, mommy? Do you mean two because a couple only means two."
posted by artychoke at 10:21 AM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Until very recently (talking in the past two years, and I'm 30), I didn't know that Rube Goldberg machines were named after a real person. I had thought it was some kind of old-timey anti-Semetic slur that had somehow gained popularity--like, the old country Jew who comes to the US and doesn't understand how anything works, so he makes up a complicated explanation. I would always be surprised when people used the phrase in conversation, like I would if someone had said "gypped."
posted by Ideal Impulse at 10:21 AM on January 12, 2013 [49 favorites]


My dad asked me if I had ever seen a baby pigeon, and no I have never seen a pigeon with chicks. He told me that's because much like caterpillars become butterflies, rats become pigeons. I believed this until middle school.

HAHA this one from the linked post is excellent -- I look forward to misinforming my children the next time we go into town so that they can continue the family tradition of shame.
posted by theredpen at 10:22 AM on January 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


I guess I didn't grow up with this, but it was only recently that I got "Every kiss begins with Kay."

(with K!)
posted by dirigibleman at 10:23 AM on January 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


>in the song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus", Santa is actually just the kid's father dressed up

oh shit is this true?
posted by xbonesgt at 10:24 AM on January 12, 2013 [32 favorites]


My dad asked me if I had ever seen a baby pigeon, and no I have never seen a pigeon with chicks. He told me that's because much like caterpillars become butterflies, rats become pigeons. I believed this until middle school.

Calvin's dad stalks the earth.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:24 AM on January 12, 2013 [52 favorites]


I've gone so long thinking the Washington Redskins were based in Washington State that even now I just looked them up on Wikipedia to confirm that they are actually in Washington DC. Yep, I am still wrong.

My dad used to live in Manhattan, Kansas. We visited when I was about seven and I could not figure out why anyone, especially the Muppets, would want to take it.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:24 AM on January 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


For all intensive purposes it took me a while to realize that it wasn't the youth in Asia who were the ones dying.
posted by ericb at 10:26 AM on January 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Pretty much until I first visited the US as an adult at 21 I thought Boston was south of New York. I also had lived in New England for at least a year before someone explained to me that New York and New Jersey, despite being called New [place in England] weren't a part of New England.

On that latter bit, I feel it's the world letting me down here.
posted by Kattullus at 10:26 AM on January 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


Oh! Another one. I grew up in North Carolina, where history education in the elementary schools is super, super focused on the Revolutionary War, because we lived so close to so many battlefields and other historical sites. We talked SO MUCH about the King and the colonies and all that stuff, that until I was in my teens, I thought that England and the US were still enemies. I even thought that the US and Germany were on the same side during WWII, because I knew for a fact that the US and England could not be allies.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 10:26 AM on January 12, 2013 [16 favorites]


"My husband thought that the world was actually in black and white in the past until an embarrassingly late age."

pretty sure this is grounds for divorce in most places
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:26 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


persona: "Until I was 30, I thought my childhood dog actually went to a farm.

It was hard to be indignant on the phone with my parents laughing so hard.
"

I think I was extra confused about this one because after one of my childhood best friend's family cats bit a couple of neighborhood kids and got labeled a problem animal, her parents took the cat to her grandparents' farm in rural Missouri, where no one would mind the addition of just another barn cat. A couple times a year she would go and visit him when they spent holidays with family, and reported that he really did live out his golden years in bliss on the farm.
posted by capricorn at 10:29 AM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I remember as a small kid being firmly convinced that girl poop and boy poop came out in different shapes. I have no idea what convinced me of it — I think it just seemed so obviously right that no actual evidence was required.
posted by and so but then, we at 10:30 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Parents of metafilter, if you do not tell all these things to your children as "facts" I will be very disappointed.
posted by elizardbits at 10:30 AM on January 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


Related to that laugh track quote above: for some time when I was a kid, I thought that whenever I heard a song on the radio, the musicians were right there in the next room over from the DJ, dressed in nice outfits and holding their instruments, waiting for the red light to turn on so they could play that hit song again. This was weird, because I knew what records were, but for some reason, this was a very vivid mental picture.

I don't think this concept lasted very long. I had already failed to believe in God or Santa Claus, and without even working out the logistics of a bunch of live bands existing in all the radio stations in the world at the same time, I just stopped believing in this.

Also: when I read about Mayan rituals or the destruction of Pompeii in my older brothers' popular history books, the fact that these stories were often written in the present tense made me believe that somehow, somewhere, there was a way to go back and see all these things that were happening, otherwise the writers wouldn't have used present tense, would they? On a related note, I was convinced the Stone Age somehow still existed somewhere because my Golden Book Encyclopedia kept referring to "Stone Age people" living today.

I get more damn fun out of misreading things than reading things. This will be my ongoing excuse on AskMe.
posted by maudlin at 10:32 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't remember believing in Santa Claus, but I did believe in Superman until about age eight.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:33 AM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


One morning when I was little, hanging out with my grandmother and sipping our morning coffee, she was perusing the TV schedule in the newspaper (do they still have those?) and said "I wonder what the neighbors are up to". I assumed that the schedule she was looking at in the paper was the neighborhood schedule. For the longest time I thought this was the case, because I never used the TV schedule in the paper (GI Joe in the morning, Thundercats in the afternoon, then Jem). Jem is excitement.

9:30-9:45 Smiths take the garbage to the curb.
9:45-11:30 Johnsons mow the lawn and trim the hedges.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:33 AM on January 12, 2013 [22 favorites]


>Parents of metafilter, if you do not tell all these things to your children as "facts" I will be very disappointed.

don't worry, we got this.
posted by xbonesgt at 10:35 AM on January 12, 2013


(Also, oh man, it is depressing how many of the "corrected misconceptions" in that thread are really run-ins with linguistic prescriptivism by speakers of a low-status dialect. "I grew up thinking that my native variety of English was a good way to talk! Ha! Wasn't that cute! Of course, eventually I realized that me and my family and all my friends and neighbors had been speaking Bad Shameful English all along...")
posted by and so but then, we at 10:35 AM on January 12, 2013 [30 favorites]


Oh yeah, my wife still corrects me about using the term "A Couple" to refer to quantity other than 2.

"A COUPLE" ALSO HAS A COLLOQUIAL MEANING OF "AN INDETERMINATE, SMALL NUMBER OF SOMETHING."

YES IT DOES. LOOK IT UP. WORDS CAN HAVE MORE THAN ONE MEANING.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

Please excuse my vehemence. This has been a sore spot between me and Mrs. Jerkwater for a decade.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 10:35 AM on January 12, 2013 [48 favorites]


I once had to reassure my poor friend / ex-roommate that I didn't consider him stupid for mistakenly pronouncing "chaos" as "CHOWS" and poignant as "POYG-NINT". Mostly since I'd met him on the internet, where he spent 14 hours a day being brilliant in written conversation, and almost zero hours saying words out loud!

As a kid, though, for some reason I thought the "OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR" warning printed on our Toyota's side mirror was some kind of Engrish mistranslation to explain that the whole OBJECT(ive)S of using a mirror is to CLOSE 'ER (close the door), and THEN THEY (the objects / people) will APPEAR, now that the mirror is aligned to see behind you.
posted by jake at 10:35 AM on January 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I thought that there was a thing inside a vagina that went into the man's urethra when having sex until I was 13 or 14, no amount of cutaway sex ed booklet could convince me otherwise.
posted by jarvitron at 10:35 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


ChuraChura: "Crick rather than creek is pretty common rural pronunciation. "
There is much confusion in the world today concerning creeks and cricks. Many otherwise well-informed people live out their lives under the impression that a crick is a creek mispronounced. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A crick is a distinctly separate entity from a creek, and it should be recognized as such. After all, a creek is merely a creek, but a crick is a crick.
posted by namewithoutwords at 10:37 AM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also my science-teacher dad pulled some hilarious-in-hindsight Calvin and Hobbes style lies on me when he didn't feel like explaining the actual science, like:
"Daddy, why's the sky blue?"
"Rayleigh scattering."
"Whuh??"
"It, um.. means it's reflecting the ....ocean."
"OH COOL"
posted by jake at 10:38 AM on January 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


maudlin: I thought that whenever I heard a song on the radio, the musicians were right there in the next room over from the DJ, dressed in nice outfits and holding their instruments, waiting for the red light to turn on so they could play that hit song again.

I never thought this, but I didn't understand the concept of a recording studio and thought that all music was recorded in a concert hall in front of a live audience. Whenever I heard a fade-out on a recorded track, I would always wonder what ending the band played for the audience.
posted by capricorn at 10:38 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is so awful that I am having trouble typing it, but I feel the need to purge my embarrassment once and for all. (This is really cheap therapy!) As a small child, I thought urine came out of the end of a penis in multiple places, like a watering can. I still think that would be cooler. Opposite with breastfeeding.
posted by theredpen at 10:39 AM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, my wife still corrects me about using the term "A Couple" to refer to quantity other than 2.

This is why I love the phrase "a couple three."
posted by Bromius at 10:39 AM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Related to that laugh track quote above: for some time when I was a kid, I thought that whenever I heard a song on the radio, the musicians were right there in the next room over from the DJ, dressed in nice outfits and holding their instruments, waiting for the red light to turn on so they could play that hit song again.

I used to think the exact same thing.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:41 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm apparently not alone on this, but I always thought the book 'Pat The Bunny' was about a bunny named Pat.
posted by ersatzkat at 10:41 AM on January 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


WAIT IT'S NOT?
posted by and so but then, we at 10:41 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


theredpen, if a guy held it in, it'd be like a shower head!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:42 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man. That was the first pun I ever got, and now you're telling me it DOESN'T COUNT?
posted by and so but then, we at 10:42 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was a teenager before I realized that chipmunks are not baby squirrels.
posted by neckro23 at 10:43 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh also when I was a kid my idea of circumcision was literally cutting the head of the penis off.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:43 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


ShutterBun: I used to think the exact same thing.

Yeah, but did you also believe in Santa Claus?
posted by maudlin at 10:44 AM on January 12, 2013


My parents didn't know how to talk about death. One day, after I got home from preschool, I went to check on my goldfish and they were gone. Dad claimed they had turned into the orange rocks at the bottom of the aquarium. When I asked why there were only two rocks for three fish, he said one of the fish had devoured another before the transformation happened.

I still remember the awful moment in fifth grade when it finally hit me he had been lying.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:45 AM on January 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


(Sorry, I keep thinking of more of these.) Because Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood started with a few minutes of a man calmly talking to the camera, and no music, puppets, or animation, I thought it was a talk show and not of interest to children.
posted by capricorn at 10:45 AM on January 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I thought that there was a thing inside a vagina that went into the man's urethra when having sex until I was 13 or 14, no amount of cutaway sex ed booklet could convince me otherwise.

This sounds like the result of spending a lot of time around coaxial cable.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 10:47 AM on January 12, 2013 [66 favorites]


A colleague of mine used to pronounce "vignette" as "vij-net." For several months it was word she needed to use regularly in meetings. No one ever corrected her.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 10:47 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This American Life covered this in A Little Bit of Knowledge.
posted by unmake at 10:47 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I did not know that about Adam Ant. Mind blown.
posted by young sister beacon at 10:47 AM on January 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Because Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood started with a few minutes of a man calmly talking to the camera, and no music, puppets, or animation, I thought it was a talk show and not of interest to children.

Here's a Mr. Rogers one for you: As a kid I never noticed that it was Mr. Rogers himself doing the puppets and voices. Because of the trolley transition I thought it was just a separate segment of the show, like on Sesame Street.
posted by neckro23 at 10:48 AM on January 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


And because I learned my vocabulary from reading I pronounced subtle with the "b" sound until someone told me it was silent.
posted by young sister beacon at 10:49 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


My high school history teacher always pronounced facade as "fay-cade." To this day, I will sometimes change it into another word if it appears in something I'm reading out loud because I routinely have to look up how it's pronounced. Had to look it up just now, in fact.

My dad, who grew up in Idaho, was convinced for years as a kid that he had a cousin named Attle, because his parents always took him to Seattle for vacation. He also thought the Vs in movies like Godzilla Vs Mothra stood for "visits." I would so see a movie called Godzilla Visits Mothra. I assume they have tea and trade stories about the most effective building-trampling techniques.
posted by skycrashesdown at 10:49 AM on January 12, 2013 [62 favorites]


>I thought that there was a thing inside a vagina that went into the man's urethra when having sex until I was 13 or 14, no amount of cutaway sex ed booklet could convince me otherwise.

This sounds like the result of spending a lot of time around coaxial cable.

Or watching too many David Cronenberg films....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:49 AM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also as a kid, the neighborhood public transit bus that went by our house would say "Magnolia via Sea Center" on its readerboard, because it went to Magnolia by way of Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is). It wasn't until high school that I realized it was just an abbreviation and not some aquarium that I'd never been to.
posted by skycrashesdown at 10:51 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Had a friend in college who pronounced "Archive" as "Archeeve", with absolutely no irony in his voice or the context. I decided not to correct him.

Also, I asked the waitress once what was in the Mine Strone soup. Not a big deal in retrospect, except it was at Dinner for Senior Prom and there were a lot of other people at the table and it being HS and all, I was pretty embarrassed about it.
posted by johnstein at 10:56 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


My wife was one of those smart kids who picked up words by reading them rather than hearing them and has occasionally let out some gems of mispronunciation when trying to use a 5 dollar word. My favorite was scythe, pronounced as "sky-thee".
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:56 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


My father used to travel a lot for work when I was a kid, and I remember my mother telling me one time how tired he was because of jet lag. Somehow I got it stuck in my head that jet lag was some horrible, incurable illness brought on by traveling too much and my poor father was never going to be the same again.

It also took me a very long time to figure out the differentiation between "local" and "long distance" calling. Actually, I figured it out once my parents yelled at me for a very, very large phone bill caused by many hours dialed in to a BBS in Atlantic City. "But it was local! I mean, Atlantic City's only, what, half an hour from here?"
posted by backseatpilot at 10:56 AM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Vietnam vets = war veterans, not veterinary surgeons who saw such horrible things happen to animals that they went mad.

Took me until about 24, that.
posted by randomination at 10:57 AM on January 12, 2013 [25 favorites]


I was eleven when I finally realized my teachers were putting me on about Columbus being the first white man to reach the Americas.

I was about fifteen when I realized they were in fact not putting me on but actually believed what they were teaching.
posted by notreally at 10:57 AM on January 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


Mandy Patankin was not, in fact, my uncle's roommate in college.

My uncle didn't even go to college, I don't think.

My older sister is the WORST.
posted by dismas at 10:57 AM on January 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


The chemical that turns pool-water bright red if you pee in it does not really exist.
posted by sixohsix at 10:58 AM on January 12, 2013 [24 favorites]


I know people in their mid-40s who unironically sign-off their emails 'chow!'
posted by mazola at 10:58 AM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


I was fairly confused about history as a kid. I used to think that the American Civil War, between the North and the South, was between North Carolina and South Carolina, or at least that they were on opposite side.

I was also confused by the appearance of "Prussia" in the books about military uniforms, since "Prussia" was not on any map I'd seen.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 10:59 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a child, I thought women were a minority group because that's how they're portrayed on TV and movies. And not just in the sense that there weren't as many female characters, but that their womanness was treated the way most other minority groups were--there would be token females, characters whose only attribute was to be "the girl," and things like that. I'm part Asian, and I could sort of feel the similarity between how both female and Asian characters were treated. It just makes sense, that since men are more common than women, and white people are more common than Asians (in America), that white men are the default and most common kind of character, right? My beliefs were also compounded with the fact that there weren't as many visible female musicians, politicians, etc. Every time I was in a class with more girls than boys, I'd be like "Wow, what are the odds of that! So unusual!" Some time around age 10 or 11 I heard in passing someone talking about how women were half the world's population, and it kind of blew me away.
posted by picklenickle at 10:59 AM on January 12, 2013 [101 favorites]


Can't believe that nobody has linked to to this related/previously site yet.

This is not exactly outrageous, but it felt like a real revelation to me at the time: I didn't get the double meaning of the Morton's Salt slogan until perhaps 2 years go.
posted by ropeladder at 10:59 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


My wife recently admitted that she didn't know that reindeer were real animals until she saw one. This Christmas.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:59 AM on January 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


There's a phrase that is present in many car commercials, "due at lease signing", as in "1894 due at lease signing" (meaning "1894 dollars due at lease signing"). It's often said very quickly. Until my late twenties, I thought that it was a reference to some sort of financial contract known as a "Duat Lease".
posted by Flunkie at 11:00 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I, too, believed that my dog went live on a farm and was 27 years old when it suddenly dawned on me. This realization occurring years after having to tell a child myself that a dog had 'gone to live on a farm'!

Also: Banal? BAY-nil.
posted by marimeko at 11:01 AM on January 12, 2013


The ever classic Pillowpants the pussy troll from Clerks 2.
posted by Talez at 11:02 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


misconceptions about biology:

-The concept of transsexuality flew over my head a little bit. Combined with the joking (trolling?) of older relatives, I thought that sometimes people would just spontaneously change biological sex at puberty.

-Another concept that flew over my head: surrogacy. I thought sometimes a baby could just disappear from one woman's uterus and appear in another. I wondered if anyone had ever made a movie about that. It was very exciting.

-Speaking of pregnancy, I understood that egg + sperm = baby, but thought that conception happened when, after a man and woman had been living together long enough, the sperm cells would float, invisible, through the air into the woman's vagina.

-I thought male lactation was completely normal in humans. I have a weirdly vivid memory of my aunt telling me that if a baby really needs milk and the mother can't provide it, the father can make milk.

misconceptions about astronomy:

-Humans had been to every planet in the solar system and to the sun.

-This was a short-lived misconception, but the moon was literally just a reflection of the sun. It amuses me that I can imagine exactly the conversation that led to this.

misconceptions about geography:

-The state I live in was called "Northern Virginia". To be fair, this is somewhat based on reality.
posted by capricorn at 11:05 AM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Someone I know seems to think "smegma" just means "schmutz", as in "The grooves in the phone cover always get smegma in them." She hasn't said it again since I vowed to correct her the next time. Maybe she saw how big my eyes got when she said it and looked it up.
posted by artychoke at 11:05 AM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sterilize that phone cover, STAT.
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:07 AM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Nthing 'LMNO', but one better: I used to think this word/letter 'elemeno' was related to 'elementary [school]'.

I still use 'a couple' to mean 'a few'. Old habits die hard.

I used to think awry was two words: the one pronounced a-rye, which I heard people say, and the one I saw written down, which was obviously pronounced 'aw-ree'. (Because when things go awry, it makes you go 'aw, man.')

And like so many others, I used to think the Disney 'D' was a G.
posted by Gordafarin at 11:09 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, there's also Olive, the other reindeer.
posted by mule98J at 11:10 AM on January 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


I was also confused by the appearance of "Prussia" in the books about military uniforms, since "Prussia" was not on any map I'd seen.

I don't consider this a "silly misconception" because, seriously, I was in the 6th grade, but in a middle school history class, we were all assigned random "famous Europeans" to write papers on. Most folks got contemporary figures, artists, or folks so famous we at least had a passing familiarity with them (like Christopher Colombus). I got Otto von Bismarck. I cannot even tell you how baffled I was by this assignment. I had never heard of Prussia, and couldn't find it on a map. To have even a basic understanding of this man, one had to know so much about European history that wouldn't have even been touched in the 6th grade. As an adult, I can't help thinking what a weird assignment this was. Even my parents weren't much of a help. Was there seriously no other European I could have been given?

But on the other hand, I didn't understand why I couldn't find Siberia on a map until I was 17 or 18.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 11:10 AM on January 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


There were so few Jewish boys my age in my hometown that when I got the notion that Jewish men were circumcised during their bar mitzvah—while they had to read Hebrew passages perfectly from the Torah, with no mispronunciations, grunts or gasps of pain—no one corrected me. When I walked into Ohev Zion Synagogue for Bernie's bar mitzvah I was really freaked out.

Thank G-d I didn't actually mention that "fact" to anyone until now.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:11 AM on January 12, 2013 [34 favorites]


Hearing about guerrilla fighters on the news when I was a kid made total sense in a Planet of the Apes kind of way.
posted by mazola at 11:11 AM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Another one from my grandmother. We were in a park and I pointed at a statue, and asked "What's that for?", wanting to know what the guy riding the horse was for. I knew about statues, I could tell this was a memorial of some sort, but wanted to know why that particular guy was memorialized.

I think my grandmother must have thought I was pointing to a taxi, which was probably parked on the street, because she told me "Oh, you get in those and tell them where you want to go, and they take you there, anywhere in the city."

So for years I thought that statues had these secret hatches, with a network of underground tunnels, so you could open up the horse's ass and crawl inside, and there would be directions to a statue on the far side of town, and you could pop out there.

I could never find the secret hatchway of these damn statues.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:12 AM on January 12, 2013 [80 favorites]


ropeladder: "This is not exactly outrageous, but it felt like a real revelation to me at the time: I didn't get the double meaning of the Morton's Salt slogan until perhaps 2 years go."

...Well, dang.

-Humans had been to every planet in the solar system and to the sun.
I had this same misconception, and I think it was because I had seen photographs of every planet, and if we hadn't been there, how did we photograph them?! I remember being so disappointed when I learned the truth.
posted by Gordafarin at 11:12 AM on January 12, 2013


My own from junior high English class, when we were going through lists of vocabulary words, each of us pronouncing one in turn - on my turn, the word was "cajole" (which I'd never heard until that point), and I pronounced it as if it were Spanish - ca-HO-lay. I'm as white as they come, but I guess living in LA as a kid has some unexpected pitfalls.
posted by wanderingmind at 11:16 AM on January 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well, there's also Olive, the other reindeer.

And her friend from that Christmas Special, Round John Virgin.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:16 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


He also thought the Vs in movies like Godzilla Vs Mothra stood for "visits."

I knew a few kids who thought "vs." was a present tense verb. As in "can I verse you in Street Fighter?"
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:16 AM on January 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


Sorry, this cannot be correct.

It is definitely pronounced "say-gh". It has to be. Please don't make my world collapse around me.
posted by Chichibio at 11:18 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought pineapples grew on trees until I was in the middle of the Dole plantation in Hawaii and asked my friend, "Where are all the trees?"
posted by thorny at 11:19 AM on January 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Until I was well into my thirties, I believed that the song Eidelweiss in The Sound of Music really was an Austrian folk song.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:20 AM on January 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Metroid Baby, I love re-analyzations like that.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:21 AM on January 12, 2013


Capricorn: Speaking of pregnancy, I understood that egg + sperm = baby, but thought that conception happened when, after a man and woman had been living together long enough, the sperm cells would float, invisible, through the air into the woman's vagina.

Somehow I'm comforted that I'm not the only one who had this same misconception. My parents gave me a science book for kids around age 5 that explained conception, but not sex. I thought the sperm would just osmose out of the man's body and into the woman, usually during the wedding ceremony. I even recall drawing a picture of it... little sperms flying out of a man in a tuxedo to a woman in a white dress.
posted by picklenickle at 11:22 AM on January 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I thought pineapples grew on trees until I was in the middle of the Dole plantation in Hawaii and asked my friend, "Where are all the trees?"

...oh, crap.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:24 AM on January 12, 2013 [57 favorites]


radwolf76: "Well, there's also Olive, the other reindeer.

And her friend from that Christmas Special, Round John Virgin.
"

And a Rose Suchak Ladder?
posted by Gordafarin at 11:24 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


He also thought the Vs in movies like Godzilla Vs Mothra stood for "visits."

I'd see "My Dinner With Mothra".
posted by mazola at 11:26 AM on January 12, 2013 [24 favorites]


Like Maudlin, I TOTALLY thought that musicians were actually LIVE on the radio WHENEVER their records were played On Air until I was about 7; I was AMAZED at how the bands played the featured songs EXACTLY the same EVERY time. I was also impressed at just how quickly the bands were switched. If I heard the same song on another station, I was BAFFLED as to how the band got there from the previous station SO FAST. When a hit song was played over & over again I thought, "How do the Beatles not get BORED out of their skulls!?!". VERY embarrassing when this was pointed out to be a patently FALSE belief by my best friend Lester's dad who LHAO.
posted by vurnt22 at 11:26 AM on January 12, 2013


I used to think that baseball games went on for ever. I mean 8 or 9 or 12 hours. Didn't realize that my Dad and his buddies would be watching one game in the afternoon, and a completely different game at night. Gimme a break- I was 5 at the time.
posted by Gungho at 11:27 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


My parents generally listened to an Oldies station when I was little. This fact is responsible for many of my childhood delusions.

The first career path I remember being seriously interested in was Radio Jingle Singer, since they did have a bunch of people who sang "KOOL 96.5" between commercial breaks. It seemed like good, steady work.

It was an oldies station because it played old music. Consequently, radio stations that played new music were called newdie stations, which would have been fine if I hadn't asked my parents to listen to the Nudies.

I loved baloney and cheese sandwiches until about the age of four, which is the first time I remember hearing the Roy Orbison song Don't Eat Baloney.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:27 AM on January 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Before the advent of standalone ATMs, I used to think that there were people inside them who would distribute the money you requested.

Until my first American history class in college, I believed the story about George Washington cutting down the cherry tree.
posted by fuse theorem at 11:29 AM on January 12, 2013


Until a fairly advanced age, my husband thought "scratch" was something you bought at the grocery store. To make things from.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:29 AM on January 12, 2013 [39 favorites]


"I thought pineapples grew on trees until I was in the middle of the Dole plantation in Hawaii and asked my friend, "Where are all the trees?""

WTF PINEAPPLES how did I never know this?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:31 AM on January 12, 2013 [53 favorites]


I thought the "Vietnam Vets" took care of animals for far too long of a time.
posted by Gordafarin at 11:32 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I remember in class 2, when I was 5 or 6, not being sure of the difference between God, the Queen, and the Prime Minister. Given that they were all middle-aged women, it was an easy mistake to make.
posted by Jehan at 11:32 AM on January 12, 2013 [24 favorites]


Listen everyone, these are all funny yes, but it also points to an essential fact about mankind, that life is like this throughout.

Every one of us will go to our graves with misconceptions still lodged in our heads. We are made of misunderstandings.

Whether you realize it, how much you realize it affects everyone, and how you go about dealing with it, that is one important measure of human being. If you truly know this is the case, it opens your eyes about yourself, about other people, and about the state of the world, and fills you with profound fellow-feeling.

-----

I remember as a small kid being firmly convinced that girl poop and boy poop came out in different shapes.

Not shapes. Colors. FLAVORS. Science has proven this. Don't ask how -- it's not always fun being a scientist.

So for years I thought that statues had these secret hatches, with a network of underground tunnels, so you could open up the horse's ass and crawl inside, and there would be directions to a statue on the far side of town, and you could pop out there.

In the dear departed MMORPG Glitch there were regions exactly like this, for which we could thank Keita Takahashi.
posted by JHarris at 11:32 AM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Not mine, someone posted this on Reddit a while back.

When I was young my father said to me:
"Knowledge is Power....Francis Bacon"
I understood it as "Knowledge is power, France is Bacon".
For more than a decade I wondered over the meaning of the second part and what was the surreal linkage between the two? If I said the quote to someone, "Knowledge is power, France is Bacon" they nodded knowingly. Or someone might say, "Knowledge is power" and I'd finish the quote "France is Bacon" and they wouldn't look at me like I'd said something very odd but thoughtfully agree. I did ask a teacher what did "Knowledge is power, France is bacon" mean and got a full 10 minute explanation of the Knowledge is power bit but nothing on "France is bacon". When I prompted further explanation by saying "France is Bacon?" in a questioning tone I just got a "yes". at 12 I didn't have the confidence to press it further. I just accepted it as something I'd never understand.
It wasn't until years later I saw it written down that the penny dropped.


http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/dxosj/what_word_or_phrase_did_you_totally_misunderstand/c13pbyc
posted by haley_joel_osteen at 11:34 AM on January 12, 2013 [107 favorites]


It wasn't until about 25 that I realized "feat" when used to describe artists' attributions (Rihanna feat Snoop Lion) is not actually its own word, pronounced "feet," but is instead an abbreviation of "featuring." I have said "feat" aloud countless times to friends-- why did no one correct me?!
posted by samthemander at 11:37 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


ropeladder: "This is not exactly outrageous, but it felt like a real revelation to me at the time: I didn't get the double meaning of the Morton's Salt slogan until perhaps 2 years go."

No. Way. I am 41. I JUST GOT THIS.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 11:37 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


It wasn't until I saw this macro that I made the connection between the "ABC song" and Mozart.

Which means I was in my 40s.

SHUT UP YOU
posted by jscalzi at 11:39 AM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Take This Job and Shove It" was standard fare for morning radio DJs when I was a kid, but I didn't get the joke in Johnny Paycheck's name until a few years ago, when I picked up one of his albums at a thrift store. I'd imagined that he specialized in songs about working, hence the name.

There've been a lot of words that I learned from reading and for years had a made-up, incorrect pronunciation. "Lozenge" still gives me trouble, but the same girlfriend that gave me hell for it didn't know that the oceans were salty, so there you go.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:40 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


WTF PINEAPPLES how did I never know this?

That is completely bizarre. And unexpected.

Also, I think I just realized that those great 90's alternative hits weren't created by Alice Cooper wannabe Allison Chains.
posted by graphnerd at 11:42 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a child, I once asked my parents whether macaroni were hunted or fished. My dear father had the deadpan answer: "Hunted, of course. Don't you see the hole in the middle?"

Mind you, not all such parental efforts at "education" necessarily succeed. My parents also took me to an animal reserve, and started pointing "Look at the donkeys in pajamas, look at the donkeys in pajamas!"

I was nonplussed for a moment until my 6-year-old self understood:

"Oh, you mean the zebras!"
posted by Skeptic at 11:43 AM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I used to parse the world 'bedraggled' as 'bed-raggled', being the way one's hair looks when they first get out of bed.

I totally just got The Beat-les. Was that really intentional? I always just thought it was a cool misspelling for misspelling's sake and to make the name more distinct, like The Byrds or The Monkees.
posted by Gordafarin at 11:43 AM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wow, pineapples!
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:46 AM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had a friend who, as an adult, was absolutely positive that skin does not grow; it just gets stretched as the rest of your body grows. It took a lot to convince him that skin does grow.

I also believed that pineapple grew on palm trees. That same friend was the one who taught me otherwise (after I had lived in Hawai'i for like 5 years).
posted by BurnChao at 11:48 AM on January 12, 2013


I was probably in high school when I figured out that "melancholy" meant the opposite of what I thought it meant. It sounds happy. Who doesn't like melons?
posted by cmoj at 11:48 AM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


I thought the sperm would just osmose out of the man's body and into the woman, usually during the wedding ceremony. I even recall drawing a picture of it... little sperms flying out of a man in a tuxedo to a woman in a white dress.

I worked out the truth when I realized why some cable ends are called "male" and some "female."


I spent a week or so convinced that Tickle-Me Elmos were somehow sabotaged and had killed people, or something. They were on the news, and I got confused. Small teddy bears were also possibly booby-trapped. This didn't last very long, but boy was it terrifying.

When I was very small I though there was nothing under roads. They were constructed where they were because there was nothing else there. They built wooden scaffolds across the gap and built the roads on top.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:50 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hearing about guerrilla fighters on the news when I was a kid made total sense in a Planet of the Apes kind of way.

As I alluded to in another thread, my father was a master of making up shit on the spot just to mess with me, and now he does it to his granddaughter. If you want to do this effectively, here's what I've learned from him: be conversational, and add more than what was asked to make it seem like it's fairly obvious and a little boring.

When I was 8 or so, I heard a discussion on the radio about the Castro brothers and the guerrilla war they had fought in the mountains of Cuba.

"I thought gorillas lived in Africa," I said to Dad.

"They live in the mountains in Central and South America, too. Everywhere south of Mexico, I think. Cuba's the only island with them, though. There used to be gorillas in Puerto Rico, too, but the Spanish killed them all when they colonized it." When I asked why it was called a 'war,' Dad added "That's a figure of speech. The guys that they're talking about had to fight a lot of gorillas before they could get to fight that other guy. Gorillas are territorial, and they work together when people come into their space."

When I saw "Return of the Jedi," I figured that gorillas fought much in the same manner as Ewoks, with logs, vines, and determination. I believed it for a couple of years, until I was flipping through a stack of animal fact trading cards, and noticed that the range of gorillas was firmly in Africa.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:51 AM on January 12, 2013 [19 favorites]


I used to think that little ant-like helpers would carry the food I ate from my throat down to my stomach. I used to wait a little bit before taking a drink after each bite because I was afraid I'd wash them all down to my stomach too quickly.

I also used to think the standard blue and white signs for a hotel, with a pictures of a bed on them, meant that the spot where the sign was was a good spot for homeless people to sleep.

And I used to think that the bank tellers were *above you* when you used the drive-through tube things. I wondered how they knew to give me a lollipop when I was with my dad, because I imagined they could only see the top of the car. I think I was in middle school before I looked over to the left to see the tellers that were *right there.* (I always sat behind my mom on the right side of the car, so I guess I was always gazing in that direction.)
posted by shortyJBot at 11:51 AM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


New England: Not part of England
Rhode Island: Not an island

Fortunately these "hit me" while I was still a child.
posted by DU at 11:53 AM on January 12, 2013


Ohh boy. As a (male) kid I thought women wore "feminine hygiene products" so that they could just take a piss whenever/wherever they wanted. Like a small diaper. Seemed horribly unfair to me that men didn't have a similar system worked out.

I think the idea came from watching TV and seeing Maxipad commercials. I couldn't figure out what body fluid they were talking about other than urine. 5th grade sex ed cleared it up for me though!
posted by sbutler at 11:53 AM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


jscalzi, you should totally check out "baa baa black sheep" while you're doing ABC and Twinkle Twinkle while you're at it ;)

1) For me, I'd have to say that until about 5, I had thought that boys had short hair and girls had long hair. When I first saw my neighbor girls with short hair and said "look at those boys!" dad said "those are girls" and I said "nuuuuuuuuh uhhhhhhhhhhh! They have short hair!"

2) I used to think that the digits at the beginning of Sesame Street (I now assume they're the episode number, perhaps?) was a phone number that you could dial to talk to someone like big bird or another muppet.
posted by symbioid at 11:55 AM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


My parents have all kinds of stories about my grandmother. One of my favourites is the one where she found an old black-and-white photo of a quilt. She wanted to see what colour the quilt had been, so she took a photo of the black and white photo with colour film. She was really disappointed when she got the film back and the quilt was still black and white.
posted by oulipian at 11:56 AM on January 12, 2013 [17 favorites]


I was also confused by the appearance of "Prussia" in the books about military uniforms, since "Prussia" was not on any map I'd seen.

Oh god, I was so convinced that every book was misspelling "Russia." All of them.
posted by Etrigan at 11:57 AM on January 12, 2013 [17 favorites]


Can someone explain the Morton sea salt thing? Thank you.

I could read and write English since I was 6 years old, but I did not get to speak to native speakers until my late 20s. Now I limit my spoken vocabulary to the couple hundred words I know how to pronounce. It is better that people think I am stupid rather than stupid and pretentious (I never say pretentious, too hard to pronounce, I say someone is a show off).

On another note, for the longest time I thought that if accidents or violence did not get you before, all men would die exactly at 72 years old in Mexico, 82 in Japan. I had plans to move to Japan on my 70th birthday.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 12:02 PM on January 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


This is really boring, but I thought all trees were closely related until I was an adult. Conifers, magnolias, oak trees, palm trees -- all the same thing, basically.

Re: pineapples not growing on trees - I used to work in a tropical exhibit at a science museum, and there was often a live pineapple in there, blowing people's minds. The idea that pineapples grow on trees is such a common misconception that I don't think people ought to feel dumb about it.
posted by Coatlicue at 12:03 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I grew up in West Michigan, home of Amway. I thought Amway owned Amtrak until I was in my 30s.
posted by Stewriffic at 12:03 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Until I was teen I believed that oral sex was saying nasty words while you "did it."
posted by dchrssyr at 12:04 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Verse" as a back-formation from "versus" to mean "compete against" is incredibly common at the library where I work (and run video game programs.) I find it charming and expect it to be one of those "Kids get off my lawn" things in about 20 years.
posted by Jeanne at 12:05 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rhode Island: Not an island
Rhode Island is an island. It's part of the state whose official, though seldom-used, name is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
posted by Flunkie at 12:05 PM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


I thought Kiss wanted to "Rock and Roll all night, and part of every day" -- y'know, leaving time to run some errands and sort the mail.
posted by apparently at 12:07 PM on January 12, 2013 [93 favorites]


Doroteo Arango II: "Can someone explain the Morton sea salt thing? Thank you."

"When it rains, it pours" -> Even when it rains (i.e. high humidity), Morton's salt still pours (i.e. doesn't clump up)
posted by Hargrimm at 12:07 PM on January 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


re: I was well into my 20s (30s?) when I realized the swirly thing in 'The Bay' logo was actually a 'B'.

I was well into my 20's before I realized the 1980's Milwaukee Brewers logo was actually an acronym.
posted by FUD at 12:08 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


A balaclava goes on one's head, and baklava goes in one's mouth. That misreading stayed with me for an embarrassingly long time.
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:10 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Somehow I got it into my head as a kid that if anyone played Snakes and Ladders, they'd break an arm. Took me an embarrassingly long time to stop believing that, and I still get a little shiver when I see the game anywhere.
posted by greatgefilte at 12:14 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"When it rains, it pours" -> Even when it rains (i.e. high humidity), Morton's salt still pours (i.e. doesn't clump up)

Man, I've been gazing at those logos this entire thread and I just couldn't figure out what the double entendre there is supposed to be. Something to do with wind blowing up the dress/coat or something...?

Also "a couple of" is used to mean "several" or "a few". Dictionary.com usage note:

"The phrase a couple of, meaning “a small number of; a few; several,” has been in standard use for centuries, especially with measurements of time and distance and in referring to amounts of money: They walked a couple of miles in silence. Repairs will probably cost a couple of hundred dollars. The phrase is used in all but the most formal speech and writing."
posted by Pyrogenesis at 12:16 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just now realized Cruella DeVil's last name spells 'devil'.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:16 PM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


As a kid, I though there had only been three wars: the US Revolutionary war (AKA World War I), the Civil War, and World War II.

Until I recently looked on Wikipedia to resolve a debate with my wife, I thought that Audrey and Katharine Hepburn were sisters.
posted by neutralmojo at 12:16 PM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was 26 and had been living in snow country for most of a winter before I realized that the small little flakes of snow which were so pretty melting onto my car were...snowflakes. Growing up in San Diego, the only time I ever saw snowflakes depicted was on the backgrounds of bulletin boards. You know what size snowflakes are on bulletin boards? Four inches wide or so, right? Yeah, I thought that was the size snowflakes were in real life.
posted by librarylis at 12:18 PM on January 12, 2013 [32 favorites]


My Cuban friend found it hilarious that I believed that coconuts on trees were brown fuzzy things. Never having seen a coconut palm up close in real life, I had no idea they have a green outer husk.
posted by nev at 12:18 PM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


A friend of mine was in a survey course for Evolutionary Biology at WWU when one of her classmates asked when unicorns went extinct. Really.

Also, I somehow got the idea as a kid that Dreidel was a kid's toy that had been created relatively recently and that the Dreidel song originated as a TV commercial jingle. When I let that slip in high school, my friends made fun of me for years. Hell, they still haven't let me forget it.
posted by duffell at 12:20 PM on January 12, 2013


One of my friends told me they were going to have a magician at their birthday party, and I was like "well I'm going to have a MAGIC-CAN!" and when everyone was like "what" I said "someone who does MAGIC, DUH"
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:20 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


My 7th grade history teacher pronounced Versailles as "ver-SAY-lees." Thankfully my mother corrected me almost immediately. Still, how do you get through 18 years of schooling including advanced degrees and teach school for a living without somebody saying, "Uh, dude? It's 'ver-sigh'." Although, weirdly Google's dictionary pronounces it "ver-SAILS." Conclusion: We're doomed.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:22 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Although, weirdly Google's dictionary pronounces it "ver-SAILS." Conclusion: We're doomed.

Versailles, Kentucky
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:26 PM on January 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I tend to miss the point of common sayings, probably because of a slightly Spock-ish faith that everything can be analyzed.

"A stitch in time saves nine" - Missed the point as I was unclear as to exactly what nine things were being saved until I realized it was nine other stitches.

"You can't have your cake and eat it too" - Mid-30s before I got this one. And I still maintain that it confuses the time order stated that way, and should be "You can't eat your cake and still have it."
posted by benito.strauss at 12:26 PM on January 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


My Cuban friend found it hilarious that I believed that coconuts on trees were brown fuzzy things. Never having seen a coconut palm up close in real life, I had no idea they have a green outer husk.

💡
*click!*

posted by mazola at 12:27 PM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh god, I was so convinced that every book was misspelling "Russia." All of them.

Me too! Well, I think I actually thought it was some sort of emphatic version. Like, if you're Prussian, you're reeeeeeeeeally Russian.
posted by threeants at 12:27 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hey, mazola, how did you do that?

The linked thread also made me sad about the state of sex education in America.
posted by jokeefe at 12:29 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I never thought this, but I didn't understand the concept of a recording studio and thought that all music was recorded in a concert hall in front of a live audience.

I think most people still believe some variation of this. It’s just like the way movies are made people, on a smaller scale.
posted by bongo_x at 12:29 PM on January 12, 2013


My boyfriend was in his 30s when he realized that trees didn't cause wind.

On a sad note, I have a friend who was raised by an extremely religious and unstable mom who told her she was "filled with Satan" when she was bad. She wasn't allowed to participate in family life class and was never taught about menstruation. When she had her first period she panicked, believing that she was finally giving birth to Satan. She was caught punching herself in the stomach trying to abort the devil.

That story has always broken my heart.
posted by dchrssyr at 12:30 PM on January 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


I heard in passing someone talking about how women were half the world's population, and it kind of blew me away.

On a related note, most of my childhood was spent in areas that were predominantly African-American. Because of this, whenever I heard that black folk were minorities, it just didn't make sense, and I eventually came to think things like, "Well, I guess there are places like Iowa and stuff?" Later, my dad got a new job when I was about to start high school, and we moved to a more suburban area. Prior to this, I thought my name, Lindsay, was profoundly rare, way less common than, say, Keisha or LaToya. That there were two other Lindsays in the very first class I took at my new school was a tremendous surprise.
posted by palindromic at 12:30 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks to Romper Room and the Magic Mirror, I was convinced that TV was two-way. I lost count of the number of times I tried to get people to notice me and totally failed.

Now, of course, on the Internet someone probably is watching me, but it's not quite the same.
posted by tommasz at 12:36 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Opposite with breastfeeding.

I think I just learned something about breastfeeding. I am 52 years old.

Also: I guess I understood what 'abuse' was about, but could not figure what the hell 'buses' meant - even on a sign at a bus station.

I thought heavy metal guitar players must have been really really strong compared to pop players until I was 15.

I thought I was watching colour TV until I actually saw a colour TV (which blew my freaking mind). After all, the programs were "Presented in Living Colour" - and I did see colours. Gray is a colour.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 12:37 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Pineapple... plants? What is this madness?
posted by sonic meat machine at 12:37 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Breastfeeding... multiple holes... what !!
posted by sonic meat machine at 12:38 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Recently seeing Argo, I was reminded of the Iran hostage crisis, which happened when I was around 4 or 5 years old. It was always on the nighttime news of course, so I remember always hearing lots of talk about the hostages. But at that young age, I had never heard the word hostage. What I had heard about, from watching Sesame Street, was ostriches. So every time I would hear people talking about the hostage crisis, I would imagine a bunch of ostriches, running really fast or sticking their heads in the sand. It always made me feel kind of sad that the ostriches were having a crisis.
posted by young sister beacon at 12:39 PM on January 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Rhode Island is an island. It's part of the state whose official, though seldom-used, name is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

I AM CLOSING THIS TAB NOW
posted by sonic meat machine at 12:40 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you people are just learning about pineapple plants, you might be amazed at how chocolate grows.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:41 PM on January 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


A guy I worked with pronounced "audiophile" as "audio-philly".
posted by davebush at 12:44 PM on January 12, 2013


I did not know that about Adam Ant. Mind blown.

Perry Farrell = Peripheral
posted by onesidys at 12:45 PM on January 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


The crusts of bread don't make you grow any bigger or stronger than the rest of the slice!
posted by onesidys at 12:46 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I only recently discovered that there is a fox in the Firefox logo.
posted by Wordwoman at 12:49 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Until I went to college, I thought that "atchley" was a really bad word, maybe on a par with fuckhead or cunt or something that you would only call a person when you were really, really lathered up, but you would definitely never say in polite company or in front of your parents, ever, for fear of getting a stern punishment. It was only at that relatively late age that it was revealed to me that Atchley in fact was the last name of our neighbors from where we lived when I was a little kid, up til age four. My parents didn't like the Atchleys for some reason and always referred to them with a marked bitterness in their tone-- "Can you believe what that atchley did?!" "Those atchleys are over there making noise again!" etc. I really thought it was a common swear word.

After my father died, my mother legally changed her last name to Ashleigh. My sister and I were disapproving (hey, it's her life, her name, she can do what she wants but feelings are feelings). My argument against the change was that it would sound too much like Atchley and surely she didn't want to be an atchley.

Apologies to any Atchleys reading this. The word still makes me wince a little for its ingrained rudeness.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 12:49 PM on January 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


When I was a little kid, I used to live in a small city that had a smaller neighbor city on the other side of a river. Using toddler/pre-school logic, I deduced that the river must be circular and surround the neighbor city like a moat, since then the river wouldn't empty out and there would be enough space for my home-city to be bigger. A corollary to this is that my home-city "didn't have a center," since it must surround the river, and the "center" of all this would be in the neighbor-city. This also meant that the neighbor city (Moorhead, MN) was somehow the center of the world.

I think I believed this until kindergarten, when someone actually sat me down with a real map and explained it to me.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 12:51 PM on January 12, 2013


the man of twists and turns: Although, weirdly Google's dictionary pronounces it "ver-SAILS." Conclusion: We're doomed.

Versailles, Kentucky
I guess I should have specified that he would go on and on about the "Treaty of Ver-say-lees." Also, the definition next to the little pronunciation icon references "a palace built for Louis XIV." Still, point taken.

It's the same with Ponce de Leon here in Atlanta I guess. The man's name is pronounced "pon-suh duh lee-own" but we just say "ponce duh lee-on."
posted by ob1quixote at 12:51 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I was well into my 20s (30s?) when I realized the swirly thing in 'The Bay' logo was actually a 'B'.

> I was well into my 20's before I realized the 1980's Milwaukee Brewers logo was actually an acronym.


I had to have the Montreal Expos' logo explained to me.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:51 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a child in the 1970s, I was convinced that a song on a popular K-TEL compilation was actually by Kiss, even though the label said it was by Foreigner. I knew, in my wise-beyond-my-years way, that "Foreigner" was just a sanitized pseudonym for Kiss, which was obviously WAY too controversial a band for K-TEL to promote. (The song was, of course, Jukebox Hero, by . . . . Foreigner).
posted by gorbichov at 12:52 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I only recently discovered that there is a fox in the Firefox logo.
posted by Wordwoman


Someone, I think on Metafilter, recently explained that it's a Firefox, not a fox. A Firefox is apparently a red panda, which is neither a fox nor a panda?
posted by artychoke at 12:52 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Epp - i - tome (last syllable like the book). I thought "ee-pit-o-me" was a completely separate word, which I somehow never saw written down. (I also picked up a lot of my vocabulary through reading and so still mispronounce words, to this day.)

I remember being about 10 or 11 and wondering what breasts were. I mean, we had books as kids and learning and stuff, but it didn't make any sense--they must be lungs or something, right? When women breathe hard, they move a lot, so...? Thankfully, this only lasted about a week. But it was a confusing week.

(Puberty in The Blue Lagoon must have been confusing. On the flip side, you get to go on a "voyage of discovery" with teenage Brooke Shields, so.)
posted by maxwelton at 12:53 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I only recently discovered that there is a fox in the Firefox logo.
posted by Wordwoman

Someone, I think on Metafilter, recently explained that it's a Firefox, not a fox. A Firefox is apparently a red panda, which is neither a fox nor a panda?


Yes, but I just thought it was a stylized picture of the earth.
posted by Wordwoman at 12:54 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The English name firefox, from which the Firefox web browser gets its name, is a calque (literal part-by-part translation) of the Chinese word 火狐 (huǒhú), another Chinese name for the red panda.
posted by djb at 12:56 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, when I was a kid and my father hit his thumb with a hammer or whatever, he would say "son of a gun" with conviction. For years I thought this was the worst profanity imaginable.
posted by maxwelton at 12:56 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember asking my mother when I was very young if girls' poop was white. I knew that boys' poop was brown, so I figured girls' must be different somehow.
posted by Curious Artificer at 12:57 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, also, I read this Calvin and Hobbes strip when I was a kid (6, maybe?) and assumed that the dad's explanation was all true.
posted by duffell at 1:01 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


So this is embarrassing but also funny. When I was a kid, I formed the belief that the inside of a VCR tape was film. Like, a tiny movie film strip. I blame old timey cartoons. Anyway, in grad school (graduate school!) one of my friends said, "I always wondered why they never recorded on the other side of a VCR tape," and I responded "wait, but how would that work? Film is transparent." And he said, "what?! No, it's not, it's like an audio tape" and I went "aaaarghh oh my god." Reader, I was 26 years old, and I hasten to remind you, in graduate school, for a science.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:01 PM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


My mother frequently made coffee cake when I was young but I would never eat it because I thought it would taste like coffee. Even the first time I had some at my mother's urging, it tasted like it had coffee undertones to me because I was so sure there was coffee lurking in it.

I took an edible plant class in college and several people questioned whether we would be learning about shrooms. I was excited to learn more about this new plant because so many of the other students were very enthusiastic. I felt a bit let down when weeks later I realized it was just an abbreviation.

One of the first books I ever owned and read to myself frequently was Hitty: Her First Hundred Years. The little girl in the first part of the story was named Phoebe, but I was not familiar with the PH sound so in my mind I called her Peebo. It was at least 10 years before I realized that her name was not Peebo, and the book never seemed quite right to me after that; I always thought it was a lot more charming when it was a story about a girl named Peebo.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:02 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you people are just learning about pineapple plants, you might be amazed at how chocolate grows.

Also, bananas. No matter how many times I see them on the tree they still look like they've been installed upside down by mistake.
posted by and so but then, we at 1:03 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


The crusts of bread don't make you grow any bigger or stronger than the rest of the slice!

Maybe not, but they are rich in anti-oxidants.

-----
If you people are just learning about pineapple plants, you might be amazed at how chocolate grows.

Cashews. To harvest a single cashew, the whole rest of the cashew apple must be discarded.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:03 PM on January 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


Growing up in the DC suburbs we would drive by the great big Mormon temple somewhere off the Beltway. It looks like a castle from a fairy tale if you haven't seen it. Somewhere in the DC area I knew there was a fantastic amusement park called King's Dominion. I thought they were the same. I pictured a wonderland of roller coasters and wave pools inside those marble walls. Every time we drive past the Mormon temple I'd ask my Mom if we could go. "Mom, Mom, please cant we go?!?" She feared I wanted to find God. It was years before she learned my motivation.
posted by karst at 1:03 PM on January 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


One time on a crowded bus, I was explaining to a colleague and PhD candidate in physics that prop planes unnerve me, because I'm always afraid I'm going to look out the window and see the propeller stop and then have the awful knowledge of imminent death. So he said that was silly and anyway, a jet engine is basically just a big propeller. To which I said, Nonsense! Jet engines work by heating the air under the wing, so that as the hot air rises it keep the plane aloft.

I was about half way through when I realized HOLYSHIT that's hot air balloons, not jets. I'd either learned it wrong as a kid, or extrapolated from hot air balloons, and then apparently not thought about it again until I was 28 years old.

Around the same time I completely devastated a friend, at a party of all places, by guffawing out loud when he told us about his childhood dog going to a farm, because city living was hard on a dog. It had literally never occurred to him that the dog was dead.
posted by looli at 1:04 PM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Cashews. To harvest a single cashew, the whole rest of the cashew apple must be discarded.

They'd better not be discarding that shit. Cashew apples are delicious. Anyone winds up with a surplus they should just call me, I'll take care of their problem right quick.
posted by and so but then, we at 1:07 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cashew apples are delicious.

They... they're not poisonous?

*flabbergast*
posted by rifflesby at 1:13 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I recall thinking that one of my teachers, Mrs. Dunne, was actually Mrs. Dung and being too embarrassed to say her name. I didn't realize my mistake until I saw her name in writing.
posted by jamincan at 1:13 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]



When I was young one of our neighbors were Spanish from south America. The Dad didn't speak English very well. They were also Jewish and the only Jewish people I knew. My Mom did a good job explaining about the differences in their religion, about them not celebrating Christmas and all that. She also talked about where they came from so I learned a bit about South America.

So in Sunday school I spent a long time thinking that Jesus really spoke Spanish and that the Middle East was in the south.

It got even more confusing as I got a bit older and started to become more aware of the history of World War II and what happened to the Jews during it. I remember seeing shows on TV and wondering why all those south american Spanish people went to Germany in the first place. I also couldn't understand any of the stereotypes at all. None of it made any sense.

I was probably in my early teens before I got it all straightened out.
posted by Jalliah at 1:15 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man summer reading, greek drama, a minefield of words read but never said aloud.

Anti-Gone.

Penny-lope.

Argh-memmy-on

it just went on and on.
posted by The Whelk at 1:15 PM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I figured out a few months ago that "biopic" is not bi-OP-ick, somehow related to "epic," but rather bio-pic, like biography picture.
posted by vytae at 1:15 PM on January 12, 2013 [21 favorites]


The chemical that turns pool-water bright red if you pee in it does not really exist.

It boggles my mind that you actually believed this one. Everyone knows that the secret chemical turns the pool water bright blue!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:16 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I was 4 or so I remember thinking that my mother must work for a very cruel company because someone had been 'fired', which I took to mean burned at the stake. I was very scared this might happen to my mother for a long time.
posted by dbmcd at 1:17 PM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Epp - i - tome (last syllable like the book). I thought "ee-pit-o-me" was a completely separate word, which I somehow never saw written down. (I also picked up a lot of my vocabulary through reading and so still mispronounce words, to this day.)
It doesn't help that one of the word's meanings is "summary of a book" which is easily analyzed as "epi-" and "tome": "the top or surface of a book".

For myself, I didn't understand that the word "sanguine" meant "optimistic" until quite late, and in truth thought it meant the opposite.

Also, segue, peruse...
posted by Jehan at 1:19 PM on January 12, 2013


TIL: Narwhals are real and ponies aren't baby horses.

I'm not sure how to feel about this.
posted by Space Kitty at 1:19 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


They... they're not poisonous?

I don't think they're poisonous! I mean, people eat them. They've got this sorta-vaguely-pineapple-y tangy flavor to them.

I suppose they might be in there with mulberries and butterfish in the "just don't eat too many or you'll regret it" category.
posted by and so but then, we at 1:20 PM on January 12, 2013


"You can't have your cake and eat it too" - Mid-30s before I got this one. And I still maintain that it confuses the time order stated that way, and should be "You can't eat your cake and still have it."

This is why the Romanian version "You can't have a drunk wife AND a full bottle" is much more clear.
posted by The Whelk at 1:21 PM on January 12, 2013 [57 favorites]


Close friend was disabused of the idea that Beluga caviar came from Beluga whales at age 21; he has never been the same.
posted by dougiedd at 1:22 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Until a couple of years ago, I thought that all salt came from evaporating ocean water and "Sea Salt" was a marketing ruse for suckers who didn't know better.
posted by scose at 1:22 PM on January 12, 2013


My father's sister married a man whose last name was Cousineau (they pronounced it "cousin-o"). For years I thought that their children's last name was Cousineau because they were my cousins.
posted by flarbuse at 1:22 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember once, when I was very young, being shocked in the car when my dad reached for a bottle of Snapple - after all, people weren't allowed to drink and drive!
posted by Gordafarin at 1:23 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


When I was small, my mother took me with her to the local church to vote in a local election. The entire day before we went, I was anticipating my mother marching down the street holding a "VOTE FOR...." sign. That's what I thought "voting" was.
posted by davebush at 1:24 PM on January 12, 2013


As a small child in the 90s, I though the show my older brother watched called Beavis and Butthead was called Penis and Butthole.
posted by bookman117 at 1:28 PM on January 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


As a small child in the 50s I thought that the Iron Curtain they were always talking about on the news was a literal curtain, like a shower curtain with those round things holding it up, but made out of iron and surrounding the Communist countries. As a child who read a lot I also shared many of the wrong pronunciations of words already mentioned that I saw in books but never heard spoken.
posted by mermayd at 1:29 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This one isn't as funny but it's pretty crazy what I believed for two decades: When the Chicago Tylenol murders happened I was about 4 years old -- old enough to be aware of it, but not old enough to know what was going on. I lived by Chicago so of course they were broadcasting warnings all the time on all the radio and television channels to get rid of your Tylenol because people had died, it was all over the newspapers, the cops were driving up and down the streets with their loudspeakers shouting to get rid of your Tylenol, adults were talking about the deaths ... It was very scary. It also happened in October, right before Halloween, and there was a big "razor blades in candy" thing that year.

Anyway, somehow in my preschooler mind this all got fused into "if you swallow Tyelnol it has razor blades in it and it will cut your throat on the inside and you will die." Which, no problem, because Tylenol was chewable, right? So I forgot all about it until I "outgrew" the chewable Tylenols and my mom gave me a swallowable Tylenol and I went into literal hysterics. I was convinced that if I swallowed it I would choke and die, even though I'd been swallowing pills for a couple years by then. In the end I kept taking chewable Tylenol until I was 14 or 15 and then I always just told my mom that I thought Advil worked "better" because I was TERRIFIED to swallow Tylenol. If I HAD to swallow it, I was so scared my throat would get tight and I'd have a terrible time getting it down, and then half the time I WOULD choke on it which made it worse the next time. My parents had no idea what my problem was. I eventually intellectually knew my fear was absurd but I still couldn't make myself take Tylenol without a heroic effort and usually several tries.

So when I went to law school, I'm sitting in Trusts & Estates class one day and we start reading a case about a husband-and-wife couple who died within a few hours of each other and there was a dispute about the will based on who died first or whether they died simultaneously. And I'm reading the recitation of facts, and it was the Tylenol murders, which I had somehow never heard about since they actually happened, and I was suddenly in the midst of this like movie-flashback where all these images from the media in 1982 and all these adults talking about it came flooding back to me, feeling this wave of realization that people actually DID die from swallowing Tylenol, just not the way my preschooler mind had mashed it up with razor-blades-in-Halloween-candy, and I immediately googled and read all about it (I do not have any notes from the rest of that class period) and all about the drug packaging safety innovations that same after it and, immediately, my inability to swallow Tylenol disappeared. Misunderstanding is a powerful thing!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:31 PM on January 12, 2013 [17 favorites]


I knew the Iron Curtain was metaphorical, but then I thought the Berlin Wall was, too.
posted by looli at 1:31 PM on January 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Lots of sex and anatomy examples in the linked comments - One misconception that I was only cleared of a year or so ago (and yes, I'm female) was the location of the hymen.
posted by Gordafarin at 1:35 PM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was disappointed when I learned that the Underground Railroad was neither.
posted by Wordwoman at 1:37 PM on January 12, 2013 [16 favorites]


Around the same time I completely devastated a friend, at a party of all places, by guffawing out loud when he told us about his childhood dog going to a farm,

I never had a dog, but, come to think of it, I did know several friends whose dogs had been taken to farms. Only now is it the truth dawning on me. I will not repeat my age.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 1:38 PM on January 12, 2013


I feel left out. Am I the only one who hasn't had this experience? [Or have I, at 34, just not figured out what my false beliefs are yet?]
posted by dmd at 1:39 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was about 23 when I shook the misconception that the words "eppy-tome", and "ep-it-to-me" were one and the same. I was convinced there were two words meaning the same thing, with the second one spelled "epitomy", another casualty of learning words from books rather than hearing them.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:40 PM on January 12, 2013


As a small child, I thought urine came out of the end of a penis in multiple places, like a watering can.

Every time I encounter a public urinal I kind of wonder if your idea is actually correct and my single-opening, unidirectional model is the weird one.
posted by Balonious Assault at 1:40 PM on January 12, 2013 [18 favorites]


We were looking over this thread together, and my boyfriend just asked me if I have any of these. And I realized... I don't know.

Pretty terrifying.
posted by MrVisible at 1:41 PM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]



This isn't mine but it did happen in sex ed class. I don't think the poor guy ever lived it down. We were in grade 7 and already had 3 years of sex ed so it was even more funny.

The teacher was talking about how babies were born. This one kid said that the teacher was wrong and very confidently explained that when the woman goes into labor the mom and dad go to the hospital. Then they have sex and when they are doing it the baby grabs onto the man's penis and pulls the baby out. I remember the teacher trying really, really hard not to laugh.

Now that I'm thinking about it I wonder if his older brother had something to do with this misconception. It sound like something they would do. lol
posted by Jalliah at 1:41 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


It wasn't until I had a baby that I realised the belly button wasn't made by the doctor tying a knot in the umbilical cord. I'd always assumed outies were the botched ones.
posted by gnimmel at 1:42 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was disappointed when I learned that the Underground Railroad was neither.


Me too! I had thought it was the coolest thing and imagined it a whole secret system that ran under the US and ended in Canada.
posted by Jalliah at 1:43 PM on January 12, 2013


Perry Farrell = Peripheral

Something similar, i.e. not exactly a misconception but more of an easter egg, is
Johnny Marr = j'en ai marre
posted by benito.strauss at 1:47 PM on January 12, 2013 [9 favorites]



Oh dear, I'm remembering more. For several years when my sister and I couldn't or wouldn't sleep my Dad would give us a bit of a special sleeping potion mixed in a glass of water.

It even had a mysterious name and kept in a labeled bottle on my Mom's spice shelf. It was green colored.

It was called H2O.

I was around 12 when I finally figured that one out.
posted by Jalliah at 1:50 PM on January 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


Though not terribly exciting, it wasn't until well into college that I realized the "Hors d'oeuvre" I kept reading about wasn't a fancy foreign synonym for the "orderves" that people ate in restaurants. It always seemed needlessly pretentious not to use the English word.

It's been two years now, and I still can't quite forgive the universe for letting me know that Gene Simmons (of KISS) isn't the same person as Richard Simmons (fitness guru).
posted by eotvos at 1:50 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I... still don't get the Morton's salt thing. I suppose I grew up in a post-Morton's world (and in not significantly humid places) but does salt usually congeal if it's humid?
posted by davidjmcgee at 1:50 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


When driving down to visit Los Angeles, I was always amazed by how many roads were named after someone named Cyn: Coldwater Cyn Road, Laurel Cyn Road, etc. Who was this Cyn guy, was he a real estate developer with a massive ego, I used to wonder, or maybe an important early SoCal settler?

It wasn't until I got my first voice nav GPS unit that I learned Cyn was an abbreviation for "canyon."

Bonus points for cluelessness:

a) I knew of Laurel Canyon as a place. I just didn't put it together with the highway sign that read "Laurel Cyn"
b) I got my GPS unit well into my 40s
posted by jamaro at 1:52 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Doesn't really congeal, just sort of clumps up like the fake Kraft parmesan cheese at the bottom of the shaker.
posted by and so but then, we at 1:52 PM on January 12, 2013


I... still don't get the Morton's salt thing. I suppose I grew up in a post-Morton's world (and in not significantly humid places) but does salt usually congeal if it's humid?

It gets hard and lumpy. So do a lot of other spices. I grew up on the West Coast and this was never a problem. Then I moved to Ontario. It's a big pain in the ass. It took me a while to find spice containers that really were air tight enough to keep it from happening.
posted by Jalliah at 1:53 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh. Thanks.
posted by davidjmcgee at 1:53 PM on January 12, 2013


(you can stick a few grains of uncooked white rice into the salt shaker to keep the salt from clumping up).
posted by jamaro at 1:55 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Apparently I've been pronouncing 'heinous' wrong all this time.
posted by Gordafarin at 1:56 PM on January 12, 2013


I was in college before I realized that "peckerhead" was offensive because it meant dickhead and had nothing to do with being annoying like Woody Woodpecker.

I then realized why I got in so much trouble for using it in grade school so much.
posted by teleri025 at 1:58 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


My college roommate asked me why I came out to the east coast for college and I told him I had heard that people were very different and wanted to see for myself. This made him laugh and I asked why it was so funny.

He grew up and pretty much stayed in a small town in Maine. His father told him that everyone in Boston walks on their hands. He didn't know why, but they are all weird in Boston, and this is just another one of those weird things. So he was very disappointed when he went on a trip to Boston when he was 12, only to find people walking around on their feet.
posted by eye of newt at 1:59 PM on January 12, 2013


It wasn't until I had a baby that I realised the belly button wasn't made by the doctor tying a knot in the umbilical cord. I'd always assumed outies were the botched ones.

When I was in my early twenties I made a joke to my boyfriend, who was cleaning lint out of his bellybutton that if he wasn't careful his butt would fall off. Because as a kid, I'd been told that if you unscrewed your bellybutton, that's what would happen. And he argued with me for a long time, that, in fact, if little kids played with their bellybuttons, they could come untied.

It wasn't until I was pregnant that it occurred to me that the fetus wasn't going to be attached to the backside of my bellybutton, on the inside. I guess I thought it was bellybutton to bellybutton. I'd only learned about the placenta a few years before. I always thought "afterbirth" was just the embryonic sac, something filmy and thin, like when you blow a bubble with gum.
posted by looli at 1:59 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I was 5-6 I used to watch Cheers all the time. We didn't get PBS or Nickelodeon so there were no kids shows, and I guess I thought the song was comforting. When I was about six, our neighbor, an older guy, somehow found this out and invited me to see his basement... which featured a huge wooden bar very similar to the one on the show, complete with neon signs for various beers and half a dozen taps. Suddenly it all made sense... Bars were special rooms in people's houses! I couldn't understand why we didn't have a bar too. Come to think of it, I still don't.
posted by miyabo at 2:06 PM on January 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


I too learned a big chunk of my early vocabulary from reading and so, when reading Greek mythology, was positive the big guy was ZEE-US. And for some reason, as a kindergartner/first grader, I was convinced TV and movie characters speaking a foreign language were just making up words and sounds because I couldn't figure out how TV could find people who had learned how to speak another language. Of course, sometimes they ARE making it up.

I plead guilty to the pineapple thing AND Edelweiss, the latter especially said since I used to feel sort of patriotic while humming it.
posted by etaoin at 2:12 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was 28 before I found out that segue does not, in fact, rhyme with league. Given the available information, though, I think it was a perfectly understandable mistake.
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 2:15 PM on January 12, 2013


On the Iron Curtain note, I totally thought the Underground Railroad was an actual underground railroad for...a while. I thought it was just the coolest sounding thing and somehow the engineering prowess of it all made its bravery all the more poignant.
posted by threeants at 2:17 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


ShutterBun: Speaking for myself, I was in my late 20's by the time I realized that in the song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus", Santa is actually just the kid's father dressed up.

My mind is blown.


Cars growing up had a button for the hazard lights labelled "Hazard" and I assumed that was how you made cars jump. I watched too much Dukes of Hazard, I guess.
posted by mountmccabe at 2:18 PM on January 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


For a long time I thought popcorn was made from wheat, because, you know, "corn".
posted by Jehan at 2:18 PM on January 12, 2013


Ah, I now see other people thought the same. I'm, uh, glad I wasn't alone.
posted by threeants at 2:18 PM on January 12, 2013


Oh yeah, my wife still corrects me about using the term "A Couple" to refer to quantity other than 2.

I like to retroactively justify using couple to refer to quantities greater than two by analogy to polyamorous couples.
posted by JiBB at 2:19 PM on January 12, 2013


When the sixth (seventh?) grade science teacher said that among other indicators, growth was a sign of life, one fellow I knew pointed out that the exception was in geology, since clearly small rocks eventually grow into large rocks.
posted by BWA at 2:21 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even though I knew how to pronounce "segue", a friend had to point out to me that the name "Segway" was making a reference to it.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:23 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


A coworker once asked if we had the font, "Tik-is-land" -- no, but we do have Tiki Island.
posted by nathan_teske at 2:24 PM on January 12, 2013


In middle school sex ed, our health teacher told us that, to have a sexuality, you had to have had penetrative sex. He then explained that lesbians were unable to have penetrative sex because they did not have a sex organ to penetrate each other with. Thus, he reasoned, there were no such things as lesbians (like unicorns!). I unfortunately accepted this as truth until college, when I had a very depressing moment of realization about the state of public school sex ed.
posted by quiet coyote at 2:29 PM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


This one I guess is for us anglo Canadians who learned French. As a kid going to a French immersion school, we had to sing the Canadian National Anthem in French at the beginning of the school day. It took me forever to figure out that the lyrics were not "ton front enceinte de fleurons glorieux" (Your brow is pregnant with glorious flowers), but "ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux" (your brow is crowned with wreaths of glory).
posted by LN at 2:32 PM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


This one takes a bit of explaining, because it's in Dutch.

Our word for 'frost that happens during the night' is nachtvorst. 'Nacht' means night, 'vorst' means frost. With me so far?
Okay, but here's where it gets more complicated: 'vorst' also is another word for king, besides 'koning'.

So yeah. Somehow, I thought when the grownups were talking about the nachtvorst that was supposed to come soon, they were talking about someone who could be considered as regal and important as a king, dressed in velvet robes and wearing gold, and came around during the night.
So of course, being seven or so, I concluded that they were talking about Sinterklaas, which is what we commonly call Saint Nicholas, who is the origin of Santa Claus.

Every year in November, when my parents said that it might soon freeze overnight, I thought I'd be getting Sinterklaas presents soon.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:33 PM on January 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


I am yet another reader mispronouncer.

My roommates and I used to sit in the living room, drinking scotch and talking bullshit. That day we were discussing how defensible our building would be against zombies.

I told them we should get a tree-bucket for the roof.

When one of my roommates realized I was trying to say trebuchet, he fell off the couch he laughed so hard.
posted by bibliogrrl at 2:34 PM on January 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


Wool blankets are warmer than cotton ones because they're made from the hair of warm-blooded mammals. Duh.
posted by vers at 2:37 PM on January 12, 2013


For a long time I thought popcorn was made from wheat, because, you know, "corn".
posted by Jehan at 4:18 PM on January 12


...ok, I must be missing something here with the wheat...

as a related thing, I thought that popcorn was made from regular corn, and that it wasn't it's own subspecies or whatever.

The first time I had cotton candy, my mom limited how much I could have...but I would show her, because I knew that there were cotton balls at home. When the taste disappointed, I concluded that of course, I had just forgotten to add sugar and flavoring.

The "biopic" thing mentioned earlier is still blowing my mind. I think I will continue to call it a bi OP ic, thank you very much.

And ditto nearly everything about the female anatomy. I am still not 100% sure about everything having to do with reproduction.
posted by subversiveasset at 2:37 PM on January 12, 2013


I actually referred to Elgar's Op. 36 as the Enema Variations.

You might have been thinking of his Op. Number Two: the Brown Note Bagatelle.
posted by yoink at 2:38 PM on January 12, 2013


As with maudlin, I always thought that bands were present at the radio station when a song was played. I supposed I worked it out because they bands were clearly present at a TV studio when they appeared on a variety show. I couldn't work out how one song could immediately give way to another with no real gap, but decided that as Wings was playing its song, Chicago was quietly setting up and tuning, ready to launch into their song on cue; while they played, Wings would quietly pack up and sneak out while Eric Clapton set up, and so forth. Weirdly, I knew that commercials were prerecorded, so I can't explain why it never occurred to me that songs were as well.

Speaking of music performed on TV, from my Tell Me Why books I also knew from an early age that the speed of sound was much slower than the speed of light and was always thankful but vaguely puzzled that we lived at exactly the right distance from various TV stations that the picture and sound arrived in sync.

Hearing about guerrilla fighters on the news when I was a kid made total sense in a Planet of the Apes kind of way.

Still does, for many people.

And with at least one of my childhood misconceptions, I can pin down to the very minute when it evaporated. I knew from early schooling in geography about hemispheres and how winter months for us Canadian kids would be summer months for Australian kids and vice versa, so I understood for years that Aussies and Kiwis would have Christmas in midsummer.

On December 31, 1999, when there was still a lot of speculation about Y2K problems, I woke up and realized that early morning for me in eastern Canada would already be past midnight that night in New Zealand and the east coast of Australia. I turned to CNN to see if there were any airliners falling out of the sky or nuclear plants melting down. It was just after midnight Sydney time and I saw a shot of fireworks bursting over the Sydney Harbour Bridge while in the middle distance, hundreds of boats bobbed at anchor in the harbour itself. My immediate thought: "Man, it must be awfully cold in the harbour on New Year's Eve. They must really want to see the fireworks." Yes, although I knew Christmas was midsummer in the southern hemisphere, it took me another 25 years to realize that New Year's was as well.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:38 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


my dad told me hot dogs were cow lips. I believed this well into high school.
posted by changeling at 2:38 PM on January 12, 2013


My Dad loves to tell this story. He and three of his friends used to go fishing in Northern Quebec each year, so far up into the bush that they had to be flown up in a bush plane. As a result, they needed to ensure that they had enough provisions to last the week, and so would shop at the little store in the village where the plane took off from. This village, being in Northern Quebec, was entirely French-speaking. So, one time, while my Dad was trying to use his school-French to order ham from the grocer, one of his buddies was wandering around the store. Suddenly, buddy hollers loudly from across the store: "Bernie, c'mere! They got a new kind of grapefruit, it's called a Pample-mousse"! (pamplemousse being the french word for grapefruit).

To this day, we intentionally mispronounce French words and work them into everyday speech. Anyone want an ar-a-chide (peanut)?
posted by LN at 2:39 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh man summer reading, greek drama, a minefield of words read but never said aloud.

Anti-Gone.

Penny-lope.

Argh-memmy-on

it just went on and on.


I once asked my big sister what her summer reading--Eau de Puss--was about. She stole that mispronunciation for her first band's name. The logo was a cat head in a perfume bottle.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:44 PM on January 12, 2013 [20 favorites]


I am in my mid-40s. About five or so years ago I had a sudden epiphany: Our dog, that my mom said had gone to live on a farm? Didn't really go to live on a farm! I called my mom, expecting that I'd tell her, she'd cop to her lie, and we'd have a good laugh together. But she insisted that our dog really did go to live on a farm. "Ha ha, Mom, no, I get it, it's okay!" "No, really, it was a nice elderly couple with acres and acres for him to run around." Back and forth like this. She never would admit it. So either my mom is really, really committed to her lie, or I'm the only kid in the history of ever whose dog really did go to live on a farm.
posted by HotToddy at 2:46 PM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


I have said "feat" aloud countless times to friends-- why did no one correct me?!

It's such cool slang when said aloud! Honestly, if you were talking to me IRL, and said something about "Crazy In Love, by Beyonce, feat. Jay-Z", I would not only chuckle at your linguistic playfulness, but be jealous I hadn't thought to do that myself!
posted by Greg Nog at 2:51 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I didn't believe that Mars and other planets in our solar system were actually real places until I was elementary school age. I thought they were like Hoth or Vulcan, just interesting vehicles for telling science fiction stories. I have a very vivid memory of asking my mother about this, and her trying to convince me that other planets, in general, did really exist, but some individual planets were fictional.

That said, I figured it all out before I was 10 years old, so we're not talking about something I believed into adulthood or anything.
posted by Sara C. at 2:52 PM on January 12, 2013


It is fun to intentionally mispronounce French words. It's even more fun when someone corrects you, and you go on doing it anyway.

To respond to a question above:
Use <center></center> to center text in Metafilter's comment box.

It works, see.

The lightbulb (💡) is just a Unicode symbol, you can either figure out how to enter one yourself or copy it off of a webpage that has one and paste it into the comment form, although it'll show up as a hollow box unless you have a font installed that can display that character. (If you're using Chrome, you must also use that as your Metafilter text font.)
posted by JHarris at 2:53 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It wasn't until I read this comment that I made the connection between the "ABC song" and Mozart.
posted by jeather at 2:53 PM on January 12, 2013


my dad told me hot dogs were cow lips.

He was doing you a favor.
posted by radwolf76 at 2:55 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


ok, I must be missing something here with the wheat...
"Corn" is a general term for grains. In some places it's also used as a specific term for a certain grain, e.g. in the US it's used to specifically mean maize. In other places it's used to specifically mean other grains, e.g. wheat.
posted by Flunkie at 3:00 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I grew up on a farm. When I was 5, we got a lovely Golden Retriever named Bo, who came from a family no longer had room for a big dog. So hey, it does happen, sometimes.
posted by fings at 3:02 PM on January 12, 2013 [15 favorites]


Until I was teen I believed that oral sex was saying nasty words while you "did it."

As a child, I thought it was just a dry recitation of what happens during sex, in the same way that an oral report at school was some kid from class just dryly reciting something he/she had learned while we all had to wait patiently through the boringness.

I came to this conclusion immediately upon hearing the phrase for the first time, which was during Monty Python And The Holy Grail. And of course, I thought it was one of the funniest concepts in a movie already full of clearly-ridiculous concepts; I got that adults liked to have sex, and that it was a cool secretive erotic thing to do, and I knew, vaguely, that it involved bodies writhing and pushing against each other and fluids and genital penetration and whatnot.

"Oral sex"! Ha! What a hoot! The image called to mind some poor shmoe on a stage, going, "so then the penis goes into the vagina, and the woman says that she likes it, and the man says that he likes it too, and then they kind of hug each other, and then" while the audience nods along, trying to look interested.

It wasn't until maybe junior high that I finally got that "oral sex" actually meant genital-on-mouth action; to be honest, I was a little disappointed, as that wasn't anywhere near as funny.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:03 PM on January 12, 2013 [23 favorites]


My mom knew a guy (who's first language was not English) who thought that when radio weather reports mentioned the wind chill temperature that they were referring to the temperature of the windshield of a car. Subsequently, he thought that a car's windshield was a standard yard stick for measuring temperature for quite some time.
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 3:03 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a kid, though, for some reason I thought the "OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR" warning printed on our Toyota's side mirror was some kind of Engrish mistranslation to explain that the whole OBJECT(ive)S of using a mirror is to CLOSE 'ER (close the door), and THEN THEY (the objects / people) will APPEAR, now that the mirror is aligned to see behind you.

Oh, man, this reminded me of one of my own.

So, in Louisiana, it very rarely freezes. People don't know how to deal with snow or ice on roads or any cold-related driving conditions. Most bridges have a sign that says "BRIDGE MAY ICE IN COLD WEATHER", as a warning. I don't know what committee came up with that phrasing, or whether signs were cheaper by the letter in the 80's, or what, but it took me until drivers' ed in high school to realize that the sign meant that the surface of the bridge could ice over in certain conditions that local drivers might not expect.

I spent my entire literate childhood analyzing that phrase as if it were some kind of Zen koan or haiku or something. I think it all stemmed from the words "MAY ICE", which seemed poetic like "roses in snow" or "December blossoms" or something. The line "Petals on a wet, black bough" still reminds me of those signs.

Similarly, I had trouble with the 80's ecology slogan "Put Litter In Its Place". It probably says something about the way my mind works that my first impulse, even as a very young child, was to bean-plate these mundane stock phrases as if they were deep metaphysical statements rather than just "drive carefully" and "don't litter".
posted by Sara C. at 3:04 PM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


I thought the act of intercourse lasted all night, because on (network) TV, they only ever show the couple get in bed and then cut to them in the morning. This was typically followed by someone saying something like "someone looks tired!" or "oh, we slept together — but we didn't do much sleeping!" It just never occurred to me that maybe they slept for part of the time. I distinctly remember being at a slumber party in middle school and this topic coming up, and the five of us having a VERY intense debate — how long is "sex"? I was at one end of the spectrum, arguing in the 7-10 hour range, while the low estimate was 1 hour. This was also the night we debated how erections worked and concluded that a boner involved a penis that was exactly perpendicular to a man's body. Not...totally sure how we came up with that one, but I remember being truly shocked by the actual range of motion. (Kind of still am? I am 30.)

Also I was 14 when I found out "oral sex" did not mean "talking about sex." I was totally aware of the variety of mouth-to-genital sex acts, and knew puuuuh-lenty of colloquial terms to describe them, but it just had not crossed my mind that oral sex meant blowjobs. (I think I first read the term "oral" in Seventeen magazine when I was 11 or so and had never reconsidered what I had guessed it meant.) I was disabused of my misconception when one of my friends was gossiping that our classmate had had oral sex, and I was not sufficiently scandalized. I believe I said "so what? We're basically having oral sex right now!" Whoops.
posted by Charity Garfein at 3:05 PM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Oh, and when I was younger I thought the "Winners Don't Use Drugs" message that appeared when you died in an arcade game was meant to convey that people who lost that particular game were free to use drugs, while those who had beat the game were not.
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 3:10 PM on January 12, 2013 [24 favorites]


I used to think that road signs that said "Do Not Pass" meant "Do Not Drive Past This Sign", and was confused why such a law would exist, as well as why my parents seemed to have no problem breaking the law.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:12 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I could never figure out why people in stories would use the moon to guide them at night -- after all, the night sky is always hot pink and bright enough on its own to see anywhere. Also, it didn't make sense that towns on maps were represented as dots. Didn't the mapmakers realize that there's no space between towns, that when one town ends the other begins, with blocks and blocks of residential and commercial development as far as one could go?

Then I learned that people live in places other than suburban Chicagoland.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 3:17 PM on January 12, 2013 [30 favorites]


I used to try and convince my younger sister that some words were pronounced slightly differently than she thought and would always correct her to be helpful. The one that worked the best was "helmet". I told her it was actually "helment". For a while, that's how she pronounced it. I had succeeded! Finally our mom intervened and ruined my fun. But just last week, nearly twenty years later, my sister brought this up and mentioned that, to this day, "helmet" looks likes it's misspelled.
posted by msbrauer at 3:17 PM on January 12, 2013


I know multiple intelligent adults who insist that cow tipping is an actual rural pastime.
posted by miyabo at 3:18 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The logo for the US Postal Service? I thought it was a kind of cap, not an eagle.

On my first big road trip with my parents, when I was about 6 years old, I was concerned about going to another state because we didn't have space suits.
posted by Foosnark at 3:19 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Our Father, who art in Heaven, Howard be thy name.

My mother tells that story to every one of my friends that she meets.
posted by kamikazegopher at 3:20 PM on January 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I know multiple intelligent adults who insist that cow tipping is an actual rural pastime.

Wait. What? I don't know you, do I?
posted by orme at 3:23 PM on January 12, 2013


Similarly, I had trouble with the 80's ecology slogan "Put Litter In Its Place". It probably says something about the way my mind works that my first impulse, even as a very young child, was to bean-plate these mundane stock phrases as if they were deep metaphysical statements rather than just "drive carefully" and "don't litter".

Oh man, I'd forgotten about that. McDonalds used to use that slogan back in the day, like on some of their packaging if I remember right, and originally I parsed it as meaning "Take McDonalds away and put litter where the store used to be." I remember being pretty sure that wasn't a thing that actually made any sense, but not being able to come up with another interpretation...
posted by and so but then, we at 3:24 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just remembered that when I was 17, I had a 14-year-old friend who started confiding in me in a big sister way. I'm white and she's black, so sometimes she would ask me "why do white people do this" sorts of questions -- like I knew a damned thing. But anyway. One day we were chattering about whatever teenagers chatter about, and she said offhandedlyl:

"When I was little, I didn't think white people pooped."

"... WHAT did you think white people did, then?"

"I don't know, I thought you just peed. Maybe you peed from your butt instead of pooped."

"WHAAAAAAT!"

"DON'T LAUGH!"
posted by Coatlicue at 3:25 PM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Due to my mom's New England accent, it wasn't until college that I discovered that "drawer" (as in bureau drawer) was not spelled d-r-a-w.
posted by jenh526 at 3:25 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember distinctly a heated conversation at the maybe 2nd or 3rd grade lunch table in which I argued that yes, the penis gets hard and goes in the vagina, but the man must pee in there. Moreover, the girl did not pee from her vagina, but from her butt. Apparently it was a convincing argument because I won over my 8 or so cohorts. I don't remember exactly when I was disabused of this frankly inferior theory of reproduction.
posted by cmoj at 3:27 PM on January 12, 2013


I'm strongly tempted to put up false things so that in twenty years we can have a reunion where everyone complains about how they thought they learned something from this thread, only to realize later it was a lie.

"I was 31 when I realized that aardvarks are mythical. I can't believe I thought an animal with such a silly name actually existed!"
posted by ifandonlyif at 3:28 PM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


It took 3+ years of listening to Marketplace on NPR for me to realize they were saying 'ten year T-note' and not 'tenured Tino' ; whatever the hell that would be in Wall Street slang.
posted by Fig at 3:29 PM on January 12, 2013


I've got lots of these, stuff like subtle or hyperbole or epitome, thinking I'd grow watermelons in my tummy if I swallowed a seed, etc.

One of the funniest I've heard was a recent question on My Brother My Brother And Me: there was a guy in the question asker's office who always said "blow my load" when he meant "blow my top". Of course the brothers advised them to never ever let the coworker know.
posted by kmz at 3:30 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of the first posts at the link is this:

My friend (we'll call her T) believed you could get pregnant from oral if you swallowed until... age 20.

Which reminds me of a case in which oral contraception did occur.
posted by msbrauer at 3:30 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Due to my mom's New England accent, it wasn't until college that I discovered that "drawer" (as in bureau drawer) was not spelled d-r-a-w.

I have seen people on craigslist selling "chester draws".
posted by artychoke at 3:31 PM on January 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


I have a vivid memory of watching my mom pay for our groceries from below (which means I must have been really young) and being confused because she gave the cashier one piece of green paper and got lots of pieces of green paper AND COINS (which must be worth more, because metal is more important than paper) back, and being really, really confused.
posted by Deoridhe at 3:40 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


How are you people who were lied to by your parents (especially fathers, it seems like for some reason) not utterly furious?
posted by kyrademon at 3:51 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I used to tell my sons that if they farted in public they had to sniff it all up before anyone smelled it. When my youngest was 14 he overheard me telling someone else about this, and he said, "Oh my god, I believed that until, like, a year ago!"

I just asked my son if there were any other ones he remembered (I do this a lot - make stuff up and tell it to my kids as gospel truth) and he said, "There are, but I've blocked them out due to the mental trauma of being called stupid by my friends."
posted by routergirl at 3:53 PM on January 12, 2013 [19 favorites]


Our Father, who art in Heaven, Howard be thy name.

Very close to mine. For years I thought people were saying "Thanks Peter God" during mass. I knew that Peter had denied Jesus, which I thought was pretty cold of God. Indeed it lead to so much theological confusion in my 6 y.o. mind, I'm convinced it contributed to my later atheism.
posted by ob at 4:00 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


How are you people who were lied to by your parents (especially fathers, it seems like for some reason) not utterly furious?

The things I believed that my father told me are more about relationships than facts and -- I don't know, it is who he is, and I'm not sure he really thought this through, like that his children would ACTUALLY believe him that he and my mother wanted a divorce when they never fought or seemed unhappy with each other or avoided each other. (And yet, we all fell for it at times. It took me years to catch on. It took my sister less time, because she immediately came to see my mother and I, distraught, and we fell over laughing at her.)

It sounds mean-spirited, I guess, but I know mean-spirited people too, and it's very different.
posted by jeather at 4:00 PM on January 12, 2013


How are you people who were lied to by your parents (especially fathers, it seems like for some reason) not utterly furious?

My dad told me SO many of these sorts of "lies" but I like to think it just made my bullshit detector stronger. Though, to be fair, both my dad (with me) and me (with my kids) would fess up eventually. The fart thing I just forgot about fessing up to - so that one slipped through the cracks (no pun intended).
posted by routergirl at 4:01 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


it wasn't until college that I discovered that "drawer" (as in bureau drawer) was not spelled d-r-a-w.

Living in New York, I knew a lot of people -- as extremely grown-ass adults -- who thought it was draw. Like, to the point of arguing with me about it and accusing me of pronouncing it wrong.

I've also seen hastily printed signs in stores that say things like "Please do not remove draws from floor models" and "Additional stock can be found in bottom draw of display". These are legit chain stores in English-speaking NYC neighborhoods, too. I'm not talking about some weird bodega thing.
posted by Sara C. at 4:01 PM on January 12, 2013


The comments section on the original post has a lot of gold in it.

This is actually not the first time I have seen this belief posted, so either that person is posting on two websites, or kids need to be told about this:

Until I was about 8, I thought that clowns were born that way--that there were black people, white people and clowns. I always wondered why I never saw any in my neighborhood.

Also, this --

I had a friend who thought that The Muppets Take Manhattan was actually called The Muppets Meet Van Halen. She always wondered why the Muppets never actually meet Van Halen in the movie.

-- this is a thing that should really have happened by now.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:04 PM on January 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


I used to think Newfoundland was called New Vinland. Because people don't ever pronounce it clearly like New-Found-Land, they run the syllables together so it sounds more like Newfinland. I learned about the Vikings in elementary school, so I knew that Vinland was the same place and thought Europeans decided to revive the name when they starting re-exploring the New World after Columbus.
posted by riruro at 4:11 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


My husband tells me that he and his friends were sure the US Army and the US Navy fought each other. It was big news when one of them found out that the Army and Navy fought other countries.

The Underground Railroad tripped me up as well. I remember that long after I had given up on there being an actual train, I still believed in the underground part. I thought there were a series of tunnels that led to the North. Which really confused me when I learned that "Follow the Drinking Gourd" (a song I knew well) was code for following the North star in the Big Dipper constellation. How those slaves saw the stars from underground was a puzzlement.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:17 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


My husband tells me that he and his friends were sure the US Army and the US Navy fought each other.

Well, they do, don't they?
posted by and so but then, we at 4:19 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh man, I'd forgotten about that. McDonalds used to use that slogan back in the day, like on some of their packaging if I remember right

Yep. McDonalds product packaging was my prime interaction with Put Litter In Its Place.

Eventually I parsed it as an instruction on the side of the cup or fry container or whatever that you were supposed to stuff said container with other types of small garbage, then throw the whole thing away. Like you were supposed to put your dirty napkin and straw wrapper and the chicken nugget you didn't eat into the cup, and throw it all away as a smaller package? So it would take up less volume in the landfill?

I also remember repeatedly asking any grownup who would listen, "Put litter in WHAT place? What does this mean? Why does it say this?"
posted by Sara C. at 4:19 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


it wasn't until college that I discovered that "drawer" (as in bureau drawer) was not spelled d-r-a-w.

Ah, furniture. I always thought "chaise longue" was pronounced like "Chase lounge", 'cuz you lounged around on it, and that "Chase" was probably someone's name, like "Chase Manhattan". I don't know how old I was when I discovered it's actually just french for "long chair".
posted by benito.strauss at 4:21 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyway, in grad school (graduate school!) one of my friends said, "I always wondered why they never recorded on the other side of a VCR tape,"

Actually, it sounds like your friend held the common misconception that the "sides" of an audio cassette are recorded on different physical sides of the tape (i.e. top and bottom). In fact, magnetic tape (audio or video) has oxide only on one side - the "sides" are just separate tracks, the same as on open-reel tapes.
posted by Awkward Philip at 4:21 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I grew up in a rural area, and it was common to see roadside signs advertising large tracts of farmland for sale. I was probably in college before I realized that the "Will Divide" listed on such signs wasn't the name of the realtor. ("Man, that Will Divide must do a big business!")
posted by percolatrix at 4:21 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to think that salt and sugar are exact opposites, so that when you put a spoonful of both into a glass of water, you will have as a result the same original water, because salt and sugar would cancel each other out. I tried this out actually - and thus was I introduced to the wonders of the empirical method.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 4:22 PM on January 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


What I want to know is how the whole "dog went to live on a farm" lie became the universal lie to give when a dog died. At least in North America. It seems like everyone heard this one....how did it spread so far and wide?
posted by aclevername at 4:24 PM on January 12, 2013


How are you people who were lied to by your parents (especially fathers, it seems like for some reason) not utterly furious?

Sense of humor. You learn not to take yourself (or the rest of the world) so seriously, not to believe everything you’re told, to do your own homework and form your own conclusions, and that no one, not even your parents, has all the answers or always knows what they are talking about. You also learn how to tell when someone is bullshitting you.

Parents who don’t lie to their children are cruel and selfish.
posted by bongo_x at 4:26 PM on January 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


HotToddy and aclevername: I actually did have a dog who went to a farm. Seriously, we knew the guy, out in the country where my daddy was from, and this was a rambunctious lab who needed more space. It took me a little while to realize that other kids were just being lied to because their parents were bored with taking care of a Christmas pup that their kids were bored with cleaning up after.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:27 PM on January 12, 2013


Sara C: People used to think Vulcan was real.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 4:28 PM on January 12, 2013


Yes, but I was asking my mother for clarification on this circa 1988, not 1859.

Though if that's why Gene Roddenberry chose Vulcan as the origin of Humans' alien allies in Star Trek, that's pretty cool. Wasn't Spock a "Martian" in early pitch documents?
posted by Sara C. at 4:31 PM on January 12, 2013


> "Parents who don’t lie to their children are cruel and selfish."

Ah. Some weird form of Stockholm Syndrome, then. Got it, thanks!
posted by kyrademon at 4:32 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I thought pineapples grew in the ground like a potato, with just the leaves sticking up. Someone mentioned the tree version to me, I disagreed, so we looked it up and found out we were both wrong.
posted by RobotHero at 4:46 PM on January 12, 2013


Wow, I've learned a few things from this thread. Pineapples! The Morton Salt slogan! I'll just pretend I'm an extremely literate four year old; it'll make me feel better.

I had a few wacky beliefs when I was a kid, and I have no idea where I got these ideas from (though I can see now that I wasn't alone): that cats were the female and dogs were the male version of the same animal; that everything on TV was live; that all eggs laid by chickens were able to develop into baby chicks, so it was important to eat them quickly before the chick developed.

A friend once told me she had an uncle who had lost a hand in an elevator accident when he was a young man living on the prairies. It wasn't until my friend was an adult that she realized it had been a grain elevator, not the kind that takes you up to the 20th floor.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:47 PM on January 12, 2013


I've mentioned it previously but I was in my late 20's when I discovered that gravity wasn't caused by centrifugal force. How come everyone thinks of gravity as this great big mystery, I used to ask myself. Haven't these so-called scientists ever been on the Gravitron?
posted by h00py at 4:48 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a small child I was frightened of many things, but particularly of the Abominable Snowman (which is somewhat understandable, I guess, since I grew up in often-snowbound Minnesota). My mother finally got tired of trying to convince me that the A.S. did not actually exist, and told me instead that it couldn't get me because the National Guard was defending the city and wouldn't ever let it get in.

From this I formulated a mental image of the Twin Cities as being wholly encircled by a guardian ring of National Guard outposts--little bunkers, out on the open prairie, each within eyeshot of the next, each staffed by vigilant Guardsmen constantly scanning the area for Abominable Snowmen. It was actually a wonderfully reassuring image that got me through many anxious childhood nights.
posted by Kat Allison at 4:49 PM on January 12, 2013 [15 favorites]


from the original link: “I thought Jimmy Buffet and Warren Buffet were the same person until last year.”

This would make the nation’s finances much more interesting.
posted by LeLiLo at 4:49 PM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh, and platypuses are much bigger than I thought they were. This came out during a game of 20 questions when I was accused of cheating.
posted by RobotHero at 4:49 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was little, I asked my dad what The Beatles were suggesting be done in the road, and he answered, "change a flat tire." I believed this for years.
posted by quiet coyote at 4:50 PM on January 12, 2013 [21 favorites]


In our family, dogs weren't sent to "the farm" when the parents got tired of them and took them to the pound but when they ran off/got run over because my dad believed in letting dogs roam and also always brought home male dogs he refused to neuter. Sooner or later their hunt for bitches always got them killed. I knew there probably wasn't a farm but given how many dogs we went through I didn't want to think about it. Neuter and fence your pets, kids. Don't be my dad.
posted by emjaybee at 5:05 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know multiple intelligent adults who insist that cow tipping is an actual rural pastime.-- miyabo

That is open to debate.

(I had to look it up since I had a friend who grew up in redneck country who claimed to have seen cow-tipping in action).
posted by eye of newt at 5:08 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I went to a Catholic school. When we learned the "Hail Mary" prayer in first grade — with the line "blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus" — I thought it was "wound," not "womb." I think I knew about standard childbirth at this time, but I imagined that Jesus, being special, had just popped out of Mary's stomach, leaving a wound. She was so tough! And at some point after that I heard about Cesareans and thought, "Oh, like Jesus."
posted by lisa g at 5:08 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


When I was little, I knew Ringo Starr was the drummer for the Beatles and I knew he was the conductor on Shining Time Station. Thus, I was baffled how the Beatles could have had a drummer only a foot tall, given the size of a drum set.
posted by hoyland at 5:28 PM on January 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


I was a huge bookworm as a kid, so I definitely had the pronunciation issues when I tried to use any new vocabulary. But I also, after reading the Misty of Chincoteague books, assumed that the island was fictional, just like Narnia and Oz. I was living in Northern Virginia, too.
posted by PussKillian at 5:28 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Until the age of 27 I thought baked Alaska was fancy dessert made of salmon.
posted by Windigo at 5:41 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


One of my high school friends thought that Robert Plant, the singer for Led Zeppelin, was French, and pronounced his name "Ro-bear Plont"
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:42 PM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


On the edge of the University of Minnesota campus there are railroad racks and a cluster of grain elevators. I didn't know what they were, but somehow I got the idea that books were stored in them. Because a university must have lots and lots of books to store, so why not put them in super-tall, windowless buildings at the edge of campus? Anyway, this image got mixed up in my head with the Texas School Book Depository ("A-HA!" I thought when I first heard the story of the assassination. "It's called a book depository.") Until I was maybe 20, I actually thought Oswald had shot JFK from like 20 stories up, on top of a silo.
posted by vytae at 5:45 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


So here you go...

I grew up on a farm.

People would abandon their unwanted dogs near our place all the time. ALL of our dogs growing up were abandoned dogs. And when we got a dog left to us we didn't have space for we found them a home, through the local want-ads.

So for a few kids at least, their dog actually did go to live on a farm :)
posted by Windigo at 5:46 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sara C.'s "MAY ICE" reminds me of another silly one. I'd been driving for a decade before realizing that "THRU TRAFFIC MERGE LEFT" didn't mean "when there's a lot of traffic, you should merge left through the traffic, in order to spread people out evenly across the highway." It always seemed a particularly absurd thing to make a sign about, and I never could figure out why they put them in some places and not others.
posted by eotvos at 5:49 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Am I missing something about the coffee cake?
posted by knapah at 5:49 PM on January 12, 2013


I just realized this thread is full of things I need to teach my son.
posted by BurnChao at 5:55 PM on January 12, 2013


I thought Roy Orbison was black. My mind was blown.
posted by dame at 6:02 PM on January 12, 2013


Knapah - coffee cake is a type of breakfast bread you eat alongside a cup of coffee or serve guests coming over for coffee. It's not coffee-flavored cake.

When I was little, I, too, thought coffee cake meant it was made with coffee as an ingredient. Since I didn't like coffee, I would steer clear of it.
posted by Sara C. at 6:04 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It wasn't until college that I realized pipe cleaners weren't just craft supplies, but were named pipe cleaners because they are actually used to clean pipes.
posted by Bort at 6:07 PM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Ego Waffles slogan "lego my ego." Until college I always wondered why Lego was teaming up with a waffle maker and what did that phrase actually mean?

When I was young and before I'd seen a porno or masturbated, I thought cum came out of the penis the same way urine did, and in the same quantities. I knew what a condom was and what it was supposed to do, but did not understand how it could hold all that fluid or not rip when blasted with a torrent of liquid.
posted by snwod at 6:14 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Knapah - coffee cake is a type of breakfast bread you eat alongside a cup of coffee or serve guests coming over for coffee. It's not coffee-flavored cake.
In England, coffee cake is coffee-flavored cake.
posted by Jehan at 6:16 PM on January 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Mind.

Blown.
posted by Sara C. at 6:34 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I was very young, I thought there were "kid names" and "grown-up names", and that you changed your name as you grew older, simply because I connected mom and dad's names so strongly with being adult, and just couldn't picture them having the same names as kids.
posted by ymgve at 6:46 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid, radio commercials out of Savannah, Georgia often closed with "next to the Mall." I heard it as "next to them all," taking the announcers to be overstating the convenience of the businesses they were promoting.
posted by O Blitiri at 6:50 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Vampire State Building.
posted by zoinks at 6:50 PM on January 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


I'm stunned about pineapples.

How many of you early-September kids were told that Labor Day was the holiday that celebrated when your mother went into labor with you? I believed that until grade school.

I grew up in Southern New Jersey and my grandmother lived in Philadelphia, which I thought was its own state because you crossed a bridge to get to it. Also, the Delaware Memorial Bridge was always abbreviated on signs as Del Mem Br, so I called it the Delmember for a long time.
posted by kimberussell at 6:52 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


These are all AMAZING.

I recall believing that when someone had e.g. "a broken arm," that meant their arm had literally broken off, as in fully disconnected from their body, and that the cast was there to kind of hold it back in place so it would reconnect.
posted by Sokka shot first at 6:54 PM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


I thought Jesus really lived in my heart and had a blue velvet and wood throne in there.

When I was probably around 6 or 7 the babysitter we went to after school would sit us all in front of the tv for snacks and every day it was Gumby. I really, really didn't like the show, but the theme song says 'If you have a heart then Gumby's a part of you.' I was really upset when I noticed it and thought either I did not have a heart or I was just a really bad person because I did not like Gumby. Naturally, later in life I am very bitter about that lyric.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 6:57 PM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


When he was very little, my brother asked my parents what "derful" meant. They told him it wasn't a word. He refused to back down, saying he had read it on a sign at the local ice-cream shop.

Took them a while to figure it out.

BASKIN-ROBBINS
31-DERFUL FLAVORS
posted by tzikeh at 7:05 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


The entire year I was in India, I would see signs on buildings saying "TO LET", and I assumed the sign maker just left off the "I" in "TOILET". When I finally asked a friend about it, they set me straight (to let, for letting, as in a lease, for lease, for rent).
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:08 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've had this thread open all day, coming back to it periodically between washing dishes, grocery shopping, watching Community, etc. to see what everyone else has been adding. Loving it! I am also stunned about the pineapples.

As far as the coffee cake, I also though it was coffee-flavored cake; my view was complicated by the fact that my mother routinely made a chocolate cake that had "one cup very strong coffee" as one of the ingredients. I just assumed that's what coffee cake was for many years.
posted by skycrashesdown at 7:09 PM on January 12, 2013


Until very recently, I saw the Good Year logo not as a shoe with wings, but as a weird, gloved hand pointing to the right. Strange sleeve.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:13 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like several others in this thread, I didn't get the Morton's Salt thing. I found this on their website:
Morton starts adding magnesium carbonate (an anti-caking agent) to salt, creating a table salt that flows freely, even in humid weather.
posted by treepour at 7:16 PM on January 12, 2013


For some reason although I love playing with language I'm terrible at identifying puns. It took me like five years to understand why Jerry Seinfeld titled his book "Seinlanguage".

When I was in first grade, one of my fellow students had a terrible pain in her ear. She ended up being excused from class and taken home or to the doctor or something. We were all kind of freaked out so the teacher tried to soothe us by telling us "It's okay, she just has an ear infection, everybody gets them, it's no big deal." So naturally I spent the next ten years thinking "Everybody gets them - when's my turn??"
posted by dfan at 7:17 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I thought Jesus really lived in my heart and had a blue velvet and wood throne in there."

I thought priests all had tattoos over their hearts, because when I asked if the Pope could un-priest a priest I was told no, he could stop him from practicing but couldn't un-priest him; I asked why, and was told "because a priest receives an indelible mark on his soul at his ordination." As soul and heart are frequently used interchangeably, and indelible marks are tattoos, the conclusion was obvious!

I thought priests got tattoos as part of their ordination ceremony at least until I was in high school.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:20 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I grew up in a town where the white ladies frequently employed black ladies to take care of their kids, so I frequently saw black women with white children in stores or on the street. Nobody ever told me the black ladies weren't the white kids' mothers, so I assumed that they were. From this I concluded that black people could have white kids and white people could have black kids, and that it was just a matter of chance. This was my unquestioned belief for years until my mother realized what I believed and straightened me out.
posted by Transl3y at 7:29 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


It wasn't until college that I realized pipe cleaners weren't just craft supplies, but were named pipe cleaners because they are actually used to clean pipes.

I was further educated when I discovered that the pipes in question were the tobacco variety, and not bits of plumbing.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:34 PM on January 12, 2013 [17 favorites]


When I was little, I listened to a lot of stuff on my dad's hi-fi set. The cassette player had a switch for Dolby Noise Reduction, which would obstensibly reduce the amount of hiss heard in playback. The switch was labelled DOLBY NR and the only other consonant-R abbreviation I had seen at that time was Jr for Junior, so

Cue my father's laughter in spite of himself every time I asked if the tape I was recording should be set to Dolby Nunior.
posted by Spatch at 7:35 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


The parsing of Petsmart:
Pets Mart
Pet Smart

Until I was in high school, I though there were two words: e-pit-o-me and epi-tome which had similar but slightly different definitions.

When I was quite little, I was convinced that developmentally disabled kids were just kids who's mom's were pregnant for longer - they'd been born bigger, but had had less time out in the world to develop intellectually.

And in kindergarden I pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for Richard Stands.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:36 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It wasn’t until I was on MetaFilter just two minutes ago that I learned what the
expression “you cant have your cake and eat it too” really means.
...boy do I feel dumb.
posted by quazichimp at 7:46 PM on January 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Okay I'm 40
posted by Jalliah at 7:46 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Speaking of pineapples, in high school I had a friend who was convinced they were citrus. I thought this was the dumbest thing ever, because pineapples are very very obviously nothing like citrus fruit. It was so wrong that it actually made me angry, and we got into an argument about it.

Later, in college, I was chatting with another friend and I brought up that story. I was all "ha ha, can you believe that someone thought that pineapples were citrus, isn't that the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard?" And she replied, completely straight-faced, "But pineapples are citrus." I just about exploded.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:47 PM on January 12, 2013


It wasn't until college that I realized pipe cleaners weren't just craft supplies, but were named pipe cleaners because they are actually used to clean pipes.

I was further educated when I discovered that the pipes in question were the tobacco variety, and not bits of plumbing.


My first exposure to pipe cleaners was from seeing my father clean his pipe with them, so I naturally figured that all of my teachers smoked pipes and just happened to have pipe cleaners handy. I could never understand why pipe smoking was considered a male thing, since all of my teachers were women.
posted by Etrigan at 8:03 PM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


It wasn’t until I was on MetaFilter just two minutes ago that I learned what the
expression “you cant have your cake and eat it too” really means.
...boy do I feel dumb.
posted by quazichimp


But think about how (relatively) smart you made me feel.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:05 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


My great aunt grew up regularly (reluctantly) attending very proper Congregationalist church in Lincoln, MA. Her favorite hymn was about Gladly, the cross-eyed bear.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:06 PM on January 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


I am allergic to citrus fruits and a lot of people are surprised that I eat pineapple. This is not an uncommon misconception.
posted by mountmccabe at 8:07 PM on January 12, 2013


Liberty and justice frog.
posted by secretary bird at 8:08 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I used to think "malevolent" was pronounced male-violent. You know, like extra strong violent.
posted by K0dama at 8:18 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of my high school friends thought that Robert Plant, the singer for Led Zeppelin, was French, and pronounced his name "Ro-bear Plont"
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:42 PM on January 12 [2 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


Me too. They were always playing ads for him in the French language cable channel.

I had a friend who thought it was the pullet surprise.
posted by bq at 8:20 PM on January 12, 2013


When I was a kid my best friend's father put a ban on the chewing of gum in their pool, saying that it was to stop us from drowning. I took him at his word and until I was 17 or so I seriously believed that if you had gum in your mouth and went swimming you would automatically and immediately drown, and would tell people off for attempting it.

I thought I peed out my vagina until I was embarrassingly old, high school even.

Also, believing Wonderland to be a real place I spent an entire summer when I was 8 trying to shove myself down rabbit holes (probably really wombat holes now I come to think of it).

I was a dull child.
posted by arha at 8:25 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


When watching old Warner Brothers cartoons as a kid, I would frequently see characters reaching for a package of "alum", which I was convinced was just an abbreviation for "aluminum."

Much to my chagrin, putting a ball of tin foil in my sister's mouth did not cause her face to immediately achieve a state of concavity.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:29 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


My mom's name is Peggy Sue. When I was little I just assumed she used to go out with Buddy Holly, and that's why there was a song about her. I never wanted to ask because the man who sang the song didn't sound anything like my dad's voice, so wouldn't it be rude to ask mom about a guy who wasn't my dad?

I also thought my dad's boss was named Bucky Wutchkalt until I was, like, 20. Turns out it's just that "bucky" and "whatcha-call-it" (pronounced with my dad's rather unique Pennsylvania Dutch/New York City accent) are the placeholder names my dad uses when he can't remember or doesn't feel like using somebody's name.
posted by titus n. owl at 8:31 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I believed until three months ago that the Harry Truman who died in the Mt. St. Helens eruption of 1980 was none other than the former US President Harry S Truman, living out his retirement in rural Washington. I discovered otherwise when I stated this opinion, with total confidence, in front of half a dozen brand-new co-workers....
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:34 PM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


The logo for the US Postal Service? I thought it was a kind of cap, not an eagle.

You're not alone. I always saw it as a profile if a guy with a big nose, kinda like the "P" in the PBS logo.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:36 PM on January 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


The other night at a party, I got into a debate with a guy who swore up and down that Thomas Dolby invented Dolby Noise Reduction.

Thankfully, a quick visit to Wikipedia was enough to convince him otherwise.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:39 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I knew that my grandmother's brother KJ had died pretty early in his life. I assumed this was connected to the fact that he had a horrible disease that turned his heart purple.

I was 16 or so before I found out what a Purple Heart actually was.
posted by Saminal at 8:41 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was almost 40 before I learned to pronounce hyperbole correctly. Non-native speaker and a bookworm, there are so many words to be tripped up by!

My dad had a huge set of bolt cutters, two feet long. He convinced my cousin that they were The Hulk's toenail clippers that he had borrowed. My cousin must have been at least 10 when he figured it out.
posted by gemmy at 8:41 PM on January 12, 2013


Until I read this thread, I didn't realize that parents used "gone to live on a farm" as a euphemism for "died". When my kids were young, we got a dog that just didn't work out and I found her a new home ... on a farm. Honest. I'm so glad now that I took the kids to visit the dog on the farm a year or so afterwards. If I hadn't, they'd probably be thinking today that I'd done something awful, like put her to sleep.
posted by Transl3y at 8:46 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


OMG you guys, pipe cleaners.. /dies
posted by Space Kitty at 8:49 PM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, my whole life I've been thinking, "wow, those must be used to clean tiny, tiny pipes..."
posted by Sara C. at 8:51 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Until recently junior high I was often ten minutes early or ten minutes late.

Why? Because there are twenty-five pennies in a QUARTER, that's why.

My HS girlfriend was horrified when someone totalled his car in a DWI accident. Because Driving Without Insurance is totally against the law.
posted by cyndigo at 8:55 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was well into my 20s when I realised that Washington state is nowhere near Washington DC. I guess I thought it lay somewhere vaguely north of New York, and that the District of Columbia had been sort of carved out of it for administrative reasons. When I finally noticed Washington state sitting insolently on northern tip of the West Coast, I honestly thought the map was wrong.
posted by embrangled at 8:59 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


And deliver us from Mabel,
For thine is the kingdom...
posted by hal9k at 9:00 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought girls got their period ONCE, when they hit puberty. I swear that none of the books, pamphlets, or hygiene products I was given mentioned this whole EVERY MONTH UNTIL MENOPAUSE thing. When we were given, in school, little booklets for tracking our periods, I realised it was a monthly deal, but I still kind of thought it might last a year or two. Man, was I mad when I found out the truth.

***

I knew the name PENny-lope, from reading, and I knew a girl in our class called "Pen-EL-ippy". Wasn't until I got an invitation to her birthday that I put the two together and it blew my mind.

***

There was a girl in my class when I was eight who claimed to be from South Africa. But I knew that couldn't be true because she was white and Africans are black. I told her she was obviously lying, and not too smart about it either.

***

I had a children's book when I was seven or eight called "Go and hush the baby, Will", and since I had never heard of the abbreviation "Will" for "William", I thought it was some weird shortening for "Go and hush the baby, will you?" I couldn't figure out why it was capitalised though. I went around using this "construction" for a while: "Open my juice for me, will?" and concluded when everyone reacted funny that it must be an Americanism that we don't use in New Zealand.

***

And I didn't know about the multiple breastfeeding holes until right now in this thread.

***

I swear someone told me when I was 18 that capers are a type of fish. In retrospect, I think they must have thought I was asking about the anchovies. (We were eating pizza at the time). I totally believed them for years. I even wondered how you could tell which end was the front, and whether they had their fins and tails removed before being canned.
posted by lollusc at 9:14 PM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


vytae: On the edge of the University of Minnesota campus there are railroad racks and a cluster of grain elevators. I didn't know what they were, but somehow I got the idea that books were stored in them. Because a university must have lots and lots of books to store, so why not put them in super-tall, windowless buildings at the edge of campus? Anyway, this image got mixed up in my head with the Texas School Book Depository ("A-HA!" I thought when I first heard the story of the assassination. "It's called a book depository.") Until I was maybe 20, I actually thought Oswald had shot JFK from like 20 stories up, on top of a silo.

Interestingly enough, in French, the term "silo" is often used for the closed stacks of a library, where patrons are not allowed to go. When I lived in Belgium, I often ordered books from the "silo" of university libraries.
posted by dhens at 9:15 PM on January 12, 2013


OK, seriously - in my own defense because good lord pipe cleaners, I just can't...
posted by Space Kitty at 9:22 PM on January 12, 2013


I thought Sesame Street was in Milwaukee, because it was on Milwaukee Public Television. I thought Mr. Rogers lived a block down from Sesame Street, and I wondered why he didn't visit.

I (and most of my first grade class) believed that nuns didn't ever have to use the bathroom, and that it was a sin to even wonder about such a thing.

When I was two or three, I believed I could move things with my mind, but only in my crib and only by closing my eyes. I knew I had this power because when I opened my eyes, my stuffed bunny was always in a totally different place! Sometimes I had to keep my eyes shut for a really long time before my telekinesis would kick in, though.
posted by tllaya at 9:32 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh crap, I just read up through the whole rest of this thread and that this:

It wasn't until I had a baby that I realised the belly button wasn't made by the doctor tying a knot in the umbilical cord. I'd always assumed outies were the botched ones.

is not true is totally news to me. *Quickly wikipedias bellybutton.*
posted by lollusc at 9:34 PM on January 12, 2013


Vampire State Building
I'd watch that movie.
posted by peppermind at 9:34 PM on January 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


How are you people who were lied to by your parents (especially fathers, it seems like for some reason) not utterly furious?

My father is an appalling liar-to-children. Naturally we admired this skill and emulated it when we could.
posted by fshgrl at 9:35 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


As someone upthread mentioned, lying to your children about inconsequential things can give them the lifelong gift of healthy skepticism and bullshit detection. They're better for it if you do it correctly.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:45 PM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Post college, biking Ireland. Somewhere in Wicklow we pass a small, handwritten sign that read: FREE RANGE EGGS.

My earnest question: "What are range eggs, and why are they giving them away?"

Typical city kid.
posted by eggman at 10:01 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


My kid is 7 right now, I wonder how many of these little ideas he has that he hasn't shared and we won't know about till later? We don't do the bullshitting thing, mostly because my husband was not raised that way and thinks it's appalling. It kind of is, but then I don't know if it really hurt me to believe that Argyle, Texas (which we drove through to visit my grandma several times a year) was where the socks and sweaters came from.
posted by emjaybee at 10:06 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


For years, I assumed that the sound of an airplane flying over was actually the sound of the earth turning. We couldn't hear it all the time because the wind usually blew the sound away. When I heard the sound, I would picture the planet spinning and it was overwhelming and kind of thrilling. The truth was a disappointment.
posted by Toothless Willy at 10:13 PM on January 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


Those of you who are surprised by pineapples need to check out Brussels Sprouts.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:24 PM on January 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Public Pubic Hair
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:29 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Until very recently, I saw the Good Year logo not as a shoe with wings, but as a weird, gloved hand pointing to the right. Strange sleeve.

Huh. When I clicked on your link, I thought sure, winged shoe. But on further reflection, at some point in the past I thought it was a gas pump nozzle thing. That or a terrible drawing of a man with Elvis hair, I really wasn't sure. I think I had figured out that it was a shoe at some point before I clicked that link, but I'm not so sure, really.

A few years ago, my friend referred to a pipe cleaner "but the stronger ones that they use for cleaning out pipes" I just nodded and pretended I totally knew about those. Are the real ones also pink and fluffy?

I don't understand those Brussels sprouts at all. I'm going to have to look into that further.
posted by artychoke at 10:32 PM on January 12, 2013


The other night at a party, I got into a debate with a guy who swore up and down that Thomas Dolby invented Dolby Noise Reduction.

I, uh, may have believed this until about two minutes ago.
posted by and so but then, we at 10:38 PM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


If I favorited an item in this thread, it's because I believed it once, believed it until just now, or thought it was funny. I'm not going to admit which.

1980s news stories on illegal aliens made me wonder why a fence or wall at the border with Mexico would help; couldn't aliens just fly in from anywhere?

I also thought tons were only 200 pounds so when I'd be traveling with farm friends back to their homes over the dusty roads, and we'd get to a bridge with a 4 ton limit and I'd desperately be trying to calculate.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:43 PM on January 12, 2013


A friend reminded me of my first hustle, which fits nicely in the weird things kids believe category, if only because I convinced said kid.

When my cousin was a kid (4 years younger than me), I convinced him that paper money was obviously worth less than coin money because paper was just paper, but metal was really worth something (and now he's a Ron Paul voter ((joke))) so obviously he could give me his stupid old paper money and I'd give him my coins. This gibed nicely with his inherent belief that change, as in trading in your dumb old $500 note for a bunch of $1 notes, was a wonderful thing because you got more money (which won me a lot of Monopoly games).

So every holiday we spent together, he was delighted when I would graciously give him a handful of pennies for his worthless $1/$5/$20 bills and assorted larger denomination coins--because 10 pennies was more money than a quarter because more coins equal more money--and we were both happy for several years.

Sadly, like all enterprising hustlers, I got too greedy and he went clanking through the living room one Christmas with pockets full of pennies, proudly telling the adults how generous his cousin Ghostride was and they were unimpressed with my "What's WRONG with it? Look how happy he is!" defense.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:44 PM on January 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


My son has known about periods since he was 2 or 3. My wife casually explained the basics to him. I thought it was a bad idea, but what is done is done. Then later, when he was about six or seven, he asked me how did girls control their bodies to make sure babies died. I had to ask him a bunch of questions, until I finally figured it out. He believed female bodies just were constantly trying to grow babies, like a tree would grow a leaf. He thought the blood from the period was the baby's body, or what's left of it after deciding not to have a baby yet.

I quickly put him on some website for kids that explains how babies are made, and I'm pretty sure he knows better know. But man! What a messed up, scary world he thought he lived in. That girls bodies were constantly eating babies and spitting out the pulp until they felt like having a baby. Wow.
posted by BurnChao at 10:50 PM on January 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


I thought Roy Orbison was black. My mind was blown.

I was totally convinced until well into my twenties that he was blind.
posted by Lazlo Nibble at 10:56 PM on January 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


I could never figure out why the icy road warning sign showed a car with legs tiptoeing across the ice.
posted by gamera at 10:56 PM on January 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


For the longest time (into my teens if not longer), I thought macramé was what kids did in craft class where they glue macaroni to paper or whatever to make pictures.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:00 PM on January 12, 2013


The crazy thing about the pineapple revelation to me isn't that I thought they grew on trees, but that I only now realize that I never really thought at all about how they grow. I mean, if you had asked me five minutes ago what pineapples grow on, all you'd have gotten is a blank stare. Yay learning!
posted by baf at 11:01 PM on January 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought Roy Orbison was black. My mind was blown.

I was totally convinced until well into my twenties that he was blind.


Well, there's my pipecleaner moment for the night! I had no idea he wasn't blind.
posted by kimberussell at 11:08 PM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


So this is embarrassing but also funny. When I was a kid, I formed the belief that the inside of a VCR tape was film. Like, a tiny movie film strip. I blame old timey cartoons. Anyway, in grad school (graduate school!) one of my friends said, "I always wondered why they never recorded on the other side of a VCR tape," and I responded "wait, but how would that work? Film is transparent." And he said, "what?! No, it's not, it's like an audio tape" and I went "aaaarghh oh my god." Reader, I was 26 years old, and I hasten to remind you, in graduate school, for a science.

Awwwww crap, I'm 32 and I think I just realized that. Of course, it makes total sense, but I don't know that I'd stopped to think on it since I was like 6.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:19 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've dated more than one man who thought menstrual cramps were pains felt in the vagina, rather than abdominal/uterine cramps.
posted by Sara C. at 11:26 PM on January 12, 2013


It wasn't until I was much older that I reinterpreted the stupid bumper sticker "Honk If You're Horny". I just thought it was like, "yeah, I'm into horns." I mean like 20-something.

Also, weirdly, there was something about the way Johnny Depp says, "Huuuge Jimmy Buffet fans," in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that made me decide on the spot, without questioning it, that it meant "really into cocaine".
posted by neuromodulator at 11:28 PM on January 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've just thought of another one. I pretty much taught myself to read by taking my mum's copy of Everywoman with me everywhere for a few years from about the age of six and one of the things I enjoyed reading most was the timeline of when things started happening during puberty. I couldn't wait to hit 11 or thereabouts because that's when I'd get to find out about the secrets.

It turned out to be secretions which was nowhere near as glamorous.
posted by h00py at 11:28 PM on January 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Those of you who are surprised by pineapples need to check out Brussels Sprouts.

Aaaaaagh! Aaaaaagh! I was eating brussels sprouts when I saw this! Please tell me that's photo shopped!
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:29 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was in elementary school, another little girl told me you must never destroy ant hills with your sneaker, because the ants would follow you home and crawl up your leg. Even after I figured out that ants weren't very good trackers (sometime in middle school), I believed that surely something terrible would happen should I disturb an ant hill.

Later, as an adult, I told my sister about this and she replied, "Those girls were liars. Her older sister told me that once she went swimming in her toilet and got stuck and had to be rescued by the fire department."
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:31 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have always (and still) think that

a couple = 2
a few = 3
several = a number between 4 and 7.
posted by ztdavis at 11:37 PM on January 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


from the original link: “I thought Jimmy Buffet and Warren Buffet were the same person until last year.”

This would make the nation’s finances much more interesting.


Yeah, imagine my amazement upon realizing that the financier was not in fact also a talented actor and well-known womanizer* finally reformed by Annette Bening.

The world got a little colder that day.

*His actual romantic life is much more interesting.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:39 PM on January 12, 2013


When my mother baked a cake she would tell us that we had to be very quiet when the cake was baking or it would "fall." It wasn't until embarrassingly late in life (late 20s?) that I was making a cake and said something about, "OK now everyone needs to be quiet for the next hour or so," and suddenly saying it out loud made me realize.... " wait a minute... that doesn't really happen. She just wanted excited kids to be quiet!" For years before that as an adult who really should have known better, whenever I made a cake I'd make sure that I didn't make too much noise when it was in the oven, because you know, it might fall.
posted by aspo at 11:52 PM on January 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Annette Bening?!? I think you've mixed Warren Beatty in there somehow, or maybe you're unclear who Jimmy Buffet is, either of which would fit right in with this thread.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:54 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


a couple = 2 or 3
some = 4
a few = 5 or 6
several = 7 or more
posted by BurnChao at 11:56 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh shit aspo. That isn't true? Oh my god.
posted by BurnChao at 11:57 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


My mom told me that if we were to visit my grandparents, we'd have to take an airplane ride. Somehow, in my little kid brain, I took that to mean that meant they lived on planes, so for years I waved to random planes in the sky, thinking they were on them and could see me.

Also, my mom explained menstruation to me while we were driving on the freeway one day. "When you're older, you'll start bleeding once a month." She neglected to mention that periods end in a week or so. I thought I was going to bleed more and more every month until I finally died one day, like some sort of female-only death sentence. It took her what seemed like forever to understand why I was suddenly hysterically crying and inconsolable. Even after she explained it, I was still worried for a long time.
posted by nuala at 12:01 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Annette Bening?!? I think you've mixed Warren Beatty in there somehow, or maybe you're unclear who Jimmy Buffett is, either of which would fit right in with this thread.

I used to think that Warren Beatty and Warren Buffett were the same person. :) The Jimmy Buffett mix-up reminded me!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:01 AM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Are you guys confusing cakes with soufflés? Because soufflés can collapse if disturbed while baking.
posted by XMLicious at 12:02 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yahoo answers says it's bs, but Answers.com says cakes do fall from noise. I'm so confused.
posted by BurnChao at 12:02 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's debate about the cake falling due to noise phenomenon. I'm not sure if it's such a good mom trick that people all over the place believe it, or if it used to happen but ovens are better now, or if it happens, but isn't about noise at all, or what. But cakes falling for mysterious reasons is a thing.

Here's an interesting link about it, on a chef forum.

FWIW, I slammed a door on Christmas Eve while my dad had yorkshire puddings in the oven, and he somewhat mockingly chastised me about causing them to fall. It was not a "quiet kids" type of moment -- it was in the middle of the family Christmas party which was just starting to kick into high gear. But, again, it's a widely believed thing. So.
posted by Sara C. at 12:04 AM on January 13, 2013


My mom told me that if we were to visit my grandparents, we'd have to take an airplane ride. Somehow, in my little kid brain, I took that to mean that meant they lived on planes, so for years I waved to random planes in the sky, thinking they were on them and could see me.

I did too! In my defense, my grandparents lived in Cameroon and we lived in the US. We only ever saw them when they came back to the states to visit, and we always met them at the airport. Additionally, I understood that the plane was a mode of transportation and not their house by the time I was school age. So we're not talking about, like, realizing it in this thread or anything.
posted by Sara C. at 12:06 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not the noise so much as the vibration popping the air bubbles in the batter. I've definitely made an egg heavy cake fall by inadvertently slamming shut the other oven door on a double oven but your basic two egg cake recipe is a lot more forgiving. They are, however, super sensitive to drops in temperature, so to keep your cakes from falling, don't open the door until the cake is 3/4s done.

Here's what's going on inside a baking cake:
When fat and sugar are mixed together – the process is called creaming – little bubbles of air are being trapped in the mixture, each one surrounded by a film of fat (which is why the mixture changes colour during creaming as the trapped air creates a foam). It is this air which produces the lightness in the finished cake, but unless beaten egg is added to the mixture the fat would collapse and the air escape during cooking. The egg white conveniently forms a layer around each air bubble, and as the temperature of the cake rises in the heat of the oven this layer coagulates and forms a rigid wall round each bubble, preventing it from bursting and ruining the texture of the cake.
I had no idea Roy Oribison could see. This clears up the confusion I always had about the lyrics of Pretty Woman.
posted by jamaro at 12:23 AM on January 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


To be clear, I mean the oven door. I wouldn't want mefites thinking they can't open their front door until the baking is done.
posted by jamaro at 12:26 AM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


A friend was just telling me a story about her middle school embarrassment. When dared to "go hump the wall" during a slumber party, she proudly marched up to that wall, stood reeeaaall close, and let loose with the most fantastic "OOOUuuuuuuuooouaaaaaaaoauouuuuuuuu"s you've ever heard. Upon being asked what the heck she was doing, she replied "being a humpback whale, duh!" Needless to say, this friend was not the hippest chick in the 7th grade, but darn does she have flair!
posted by Grandysaur at 12:37 AM on January 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks to my father's interpretive reading of the nursery rhyme "Wee Willie Winkie", I was under the impression probably into my 30s that Willie was some kind of kidnapper or possibly serial killer who went around looking for children awake past their bedtimes to steal and/or kill. You know, like "Ring Around The Rosie" is (incorrectly thought to be) about the black plague? Why not a nursery rhyme about a historical kidnapper? The poem still makes me nervous, and I can't agree with wikipedia's assertion that Willie is the personification of sleep. Surely he's more malevolent than that. Peering in the windows? Tapping at the locks? What kind of behavior is that? The behavior of someone casing a house, that's what. (Oh, wait. It's tapping at the windows and crying at the locks? Well, there's something I remembered wrong until 30 seconds ago. Still creepy, though.)

On the using-words-wrong front, I have a coworker who pronounces "versus" as "verse", but not in the verb form mentioned upthread. Straight out "what do you think of solution A verse solution B?" Drives me crazy. I think someone must have told him that he had no idea how to use "moreover" at some point in the last year or two, though, since I haven't heard him butcher that one in a while. (Made up example: "It's not that I don't like this sweater; moreover, I just find it itchy.")
posted by hades at 1:29 AM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Snarl Furillo: “I used to think that Warren Beatty and Warren Buffett were the same person. :) The Jimmy Buffett mix-up reminded me!”

For the longest time, I'd sit and ponder what a full life that guy who used to sing with Cher in the 60s had had – I mean, not only did he end up in the US House of Representatives, but he'd somehow had time to live in Ireland in the 80s and start a rock band that got huge. And they didn't sound anything like his 60s stuff! He'd really kept up with the times.

Looking back, in my defense, I still feel like it makes a lot of sense to make that assumption. I mean, what are the odds that there'd be two guys walking around with the weird name Bono?
posted by koeselitz at 1:29 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was a very long time before I realized what the song "Relax," by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, was actually about.

tommasz: "Thanks to Romper Room and the Magic Mirror, I was convinced that TV was two-way."
I was totally convinced that the Magic Mirror allowed the Romper Room teacher to see us watching at home. I was always thrilled when she said "I see..." and my first name - I thought she really saw me!

I also thought that movies were shot in one take, start to finish, like a play.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:31 AM on January 13, 2013


I mean, what are the odds that there'd be two guys walking around with the weird name Bono?

Or that they'd do all that legal work for free?
posted by radwolf76 at 1:33 AM on January 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


In elementary school we learned a song about the ghost of John. "Have you seen the ghost of John, long white bones with the skin all gone... oooooo, wouldn't it be chilly with no skin on?"

For the longest time I thought it was "One dippy chili with no skin on." Some kind of chili dog.

It was only a couple years ago that I learned that panacea is pronounced pan-uh-see-uh and not like pan-Asia with a softer sh sound.. After all, rosacea, echinacea, so why not panacea?
posted by IndigoRain at 1:38 AM on January 13, 2013


ztdavis: “I have always (and still) think that a couple = 2; a few = 3; several = a number between 4 and 7.”

If this were true, then when people say "relatively few," they would be saying "relatively three." Which doesn't make sense. "Couple" actually means two, but "few" and "several" are relative amounts. If you're talking hundreds of billions of molecules, for example, and eighteen million molecules leaked out, then it would make perfect sense to say "a few" leaked out, even though "a few" in this case means "eighteen million." "Several," for what it's worth, carries the added implication of distinctness, as one can see from its etymology.

Thankfully, in English we have words for the amounts you're talking about. When you want to tell someone that you have two sheep, for example, you can say "I have two sheep;" and if you want to say that you have three sheep, you can say "I have three sheep." "I have a few sheep" is unnecessary both because it doesn't actually mean "three" and also because it takes more syllables. And if you have between four and seven sheep, to be clear, it's generally worth it to just say "I have between four and seven sheep."
posted by koeselitz at 1:38 AM on January 13, 2013


IndigoRain: “It was only a couple years ago that I learned that panacea is pronounced pan-uh-see-uh and not like pan-Asia with a softer sh sound.. After all, rosacea, echinacea, so why not panacea?”

I was out of grad school before I learned that "panacea" and "panache" are two different words; I always just pronounced "panacea" as "puh-nash." Yeah, "cea" doesn't look like it should make a "sh" sound, but it's English, so I assumed if it made sense I was probably doing it wrong anyway.
posted by koeselitz at 1:40 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


A lot of people thought "segue" is pronounced "seg…"
I heard this word first in some podcast, so I thought "segue" is spelled "segway." Until I saw it in a blog post or something.
posted by floatboth at 1:53 AM on January 13, 2013


I grew up in a place and time where fresh fish was a rarity -- I only saw fresh fish when I went fishing with my uncles. So tuna, which I knew came from the sea, only came in little tins. Imagine my shock when, just a few years ago -- I'm in my forties -- I was watching television and saw a tuna in the wild. My mind reeled, for it I had steadfastly believed that tuna were tiny fish ... because they came in little tins.

My wife thought that sea-horses were mythical creatures. A couple of years ago, at the Vancouver Aquarium, she let out a small scream when she encountered *actually existing* sea-horses.

I vividly recall being a small child and asking my mother how to tell the difference between the left-footed and right-footed socks.

I also recall an childhood attempt to impress my parents with cursive writing. I was very disappointed when they couldn't read what I had written. Of course, I didn't yet know how to write in cursive: I thought that one simply thought about what one wanted to communicate, then made wavy lines on the page.
posted by alaaarm at 2:15 AM on January 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


my friend thought that Vegas tiger act was called Sigmund and Freud.
posted by thetruthisjustalie at 2:18 AM on January 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


In winter my parents would shut the lounge room door "to keep out the giraffe".
Later I realised they were trying to keep out the 'draught' of cold air from the unheated rooms.

My mum also introduced me to golden potatoes in an effort to get me to eat more vegetables.
I was well and truly an adult before I realised that golden potatoes were actually pumpkins.
posted by MT at 2:23 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought Cliff Richard and Keith Richards were the same person until...embarrassingly recently. I always wondered how the baby-faced guy I remembered from my sister's album covers had suddenly aged so badly. I guess I thought he spent his early days in the Rolling Stones before launching a solo career and churning out cloying pop songs instead?
posted by embrangled at 2:30 AM on January 13, 2013


Chalk one up for me on "reading words and never hearing them pronounced." In first grade I called a color "hot Montana" (hot magenta). "Al-ber-cue-cue" for Albuquerque. "Misled" always confused me too. "Segue" I had always read as "segoo" and had never once connected it with the word pronounced "segway" until I was in college and had a professor who used the word frequently. The first time I said "flotilla" in front of some friends in my 20s, I pronounced it like "tortilla" with the "ll" sound as a "y", and was summarily ridiculed. (I still argue I was technically correct -- it does derive from Spanish) My mother, who just turned 60, just discovered the Penelope pronunciation a couple years ago.

Let's see, what else. I also thought that you weren't supposed to use elevators EVER, just in case there might be a fire.

Seeing the Dole pineapple plantation definitely blew my mind.

I was shocked when I saw one of my teachers in jeans and a t-shirt in our neighborhood when I was about 9. I was somehow convinced teachers lived at school and wore their teacher clothes (in the case of when and where I grew up, that meant denim jumpers and turtlenecks, often with apple themes) all the time.

I was also convinced for a long time as a child that the term "Downtown" referred only to Columbus, Ohio, as we lived in a suburb of Columbus and to go into Columbus proper was always discussed as going "downtown." Thought the Petula Clark song was about Columbus. When we drove through Cleveland and a highway sign pointed to "Downtown" it struck me as odd how close it seemed Columbus was to Cleveland based on the signage even though I knew it was a few hours' drive.

I also, despite not being raised particularly religious, fell prey to the Adam and Eve myth -- not a literal belief that God created Adam and Eve, but that the mention of "taking a rib from Adam and creating Eve" was meant, as such things did in most other mythology, to explain away an actual fact -- that men had one less rib than women did. I was also convinced that this was how archaeologists determined whether a skeleton was male or female. I think this lasted until high school biology class when someone else asked about it and got to be the one who looked silly.
posted by olinerd at 2:45 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh. And. Another gem from growing up in Ohio, the "Adult Bookstores" all along the highways. As a particularly precocious elementary school student -- I read (and with the exception of chaos theory, largely understood) Jurassic Park on a bet with my parents when I was 7 -- I was quite indignant at the thought that there would be bookstores with books that were deemed too difficult for me and that I would not be allowed into, not being an adult at the time. I'm pretty sure that took me until high school to figure out, too.

Precocious, maybe, but still so naive.
posted by olinerd at 2:47 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Until I was well into my thirties, I believed that the song Eidelweiss in The Sound of Music really was an Austrian folk song.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:20 AM on January 12 [8 favorites +] [!]


It isn't a real song!?!?!?!!
posted by raccoon409 at 2:49 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apples grow on trees. Pines are trees. Of course pineapples grow on trees.
posted by Authorized User at 2:59 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was expecting pineapples to grow from vines, pumpkin style.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:42 AM on January 13, 2013


St Pancreas station
posted by logopetria at 3:48 AM on January 13, 2013


Well, for one thing, an Austrian folk song would probably not be in English.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:22 AM on January 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


As a kid, I assumed that downtown was called that because in the town I grew up in it was down a hill from where we lived.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:38 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Until Metafilter set me straight, I had no idea that when a strange man walked up and commanded me to smile, that it had anything to do with flirting. I didn't know this happened to other people and it never occurred to me that it had anything to do with gender. I seriously thought I must really look unhappy, so unhappy that strangers were moved to make inappropriate remarks on it, and I got really self-conscious about my unusually sad appearance.
posted by xenophile at 4:39 AM on January 13, 2013 [19 favorites]


I always thought "a watched pot never boils" meant that if you want something to happen, don't hover over it - step back and just let it happen naturally.

Then one day Mr. Wheek asked me to stop taking the cover off the pasta water to check if it's boiling, and just listen for the boil, because every time I was looking at the water I was letting all the hot air out and it would take forever to boil. Mind blown!
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 5:19 AM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I discovered the difference between the American and British meanings of the word 'fanny' watching an episode of the Golden Girls. Over here in the UK it means female genitals whereas in the US it's the buttocks. So imagine my shock when one of the said Golden Girls turned to a young girl they were looking after and said "if you don't stop doing that I'll slap your little fanny"....
posted by etc at 5:31 AM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lazlo Nibble: "I thought Roy Orbison was black. My mind was blown.

I was totally convinced until well into my twenties that he was blind.
"

Well, goddamn. So did I. (Although, to be fair, perhaps my six-year-old mind confused the story of Terri Gibbs, whose song was on the radio, and Roy Orbison, whose songs were on one of my dad's 8-tracks.)
posted by notsnot at 6:47 AM on January 13, 2013


Until last year, I thought that a wedding rehearsal dinner was a rehearsal of the wedding dinner. I figured the chefs needed to practice too, right? Wedding dinners are complicated affairs.

In my defense, I had never been invited to a rehearsal dinner before and it wasn't something that I needed to research for any reason. This little bit of knowledge just happened to fall in the gap between the broad categories of "Facts I have absorbed through culture" and "Facts I have been curious enough to seek out." Which I suspect is the case with most of these.
posted by deathpanels at 7:05 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid, I thought that in the old days, there was no color in the world, that everything was black and white.
posted by AJaffe at 7:09 AM on January 13, 2013


I discovered the difference between the American and British meanings of the word 'fanny'

etc, my grandmother had a similar experience of discovery when getting on a boat and saying goodbye to a group of new American friends by shouting to the crowd "Keep your pecker up!" We now say this all the time in our family.
posted by theredpen at 7:17 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always thought "a watched pot never boils" meant that if you want something to happen, don't hover over it - step back and just let it happen naturally.

Then one day Mr. Wheek asked me to stop taking the cover off the pasta water to check if it's boiling, and just listen for the boil, because every time I was looking at the water I was letting all the hot air out and it would take forever to boil. Mind blown!


Um, that is what it means. If you're waiting for something to happen, it seems to take forever.

Also the hot air has very little to with water boiling, compared to a 300 degree flame underneath it. Mr. Wheek is wrong.
posted by fungible at 7:27 AM on January 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


Here's another one of mine: In elementary school, I thought "the least common denominator" meant "the rarest denominator" before the teacher explained that in this case "least" meant "lowest" and "common" meant "having in common."

Way to confuse kids, Math!
posted by xenophile at 7:32 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't believe I just now remembered this.

I held a deep belief of mind of matter as a young child. So much so that I believed I could levitate if I just concentrated hard enough.

One night while taking a bath, I pushed myself up on the side of the tub and bent my legs back (so that the only thing supporting me off the floor of the tub was my locked arms). I concentrated as hard as I could, imagining myself releasing my arms, seeing myself floating above the edge of the tub.

I called out to my mom to come check this out, and as soon as she opened the door, SURPRISE! and I let go. I was truly shocked that gravity overruled my fierce desire to levitate, or it could have just been all the blood I saw when my two front teeth were knocked out by the side of the tub.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:17 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite from the link:
I heard of a mother who told her kids that the ice cream man rang the bell when he was OUT of ice cream.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:58 AM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


For some reason I was convinced that whore was spelt 'horr' because...I don't know...it just looks more vulgar that way or something.
posted by threeants at 9:00 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Coffee cake was a product of its time and I doubt many people under 30 have ever eaten or made it. It wasn't particularly exciting, being a cross between quickbread and cake. It was cheap, easy, and could be made with pantry staples. If you were a housewife stuck in the suburbs without a car, without a grocery store within walking distance and only had a small budget for food, Coffee Cake was a stand-by dessert or snack. Unlike poundcake (which takes 6 eggs and a pound of butter and 1.25 hours to bake, Coffee cake only needed one egg and no butter and only 30 minutes to cook. Usually it was served without frosting, often it had brown sugar on top. Here is the basic coffee cake recipe from my mother's old Betty Crocker cookbook:

1.5 C flour
3/4 C sugar
2.5 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 C shortening
1/4 C milk
1 egg

Heat oven 375. Grease 8 by 8 pan. Blend all ingredients. Beat vigorously 2 min. Spread in pan. Sprinkle optional topping over batter. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Topping: Mix 1/3 C brown sugar, 1/4 C flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 3 TB butter until crumbly.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:09 AM on January 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


From the AskMe: I'm a science buff and have read extensively on the history of science and such and it was embarassingly late in my life when I understood what caused phases of the moon. I somehow got it into my head when I was very young that it was the shadow of the Earth and years of education were unable to dislodge it.

I had to go look at Wikipedia just now. Man I don't even.
posted by rifflesby at 9:10 AM on January 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


The lie that my dad told me that I remember best was the answer to my question about why birds don't get electrocuted when they sit on electrical wires: because they wear little rubber-soled sneakers. I believed this for years. I still love the mental picture of it.

I was angry with my dad for many reasons, but never for stuff like this.
posted by rtha at 9:14 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the AskMe: I'm a science buff and have read extensively on the history of science and such and it was embarassingly late in my life when I understood what caused phases of the moon. I somehow got it into my head when I was very young that it was the shadow of the Earth and years of education were unable to dislodge it.

I had to go look at Wikipedia just now. Man I don't even.


Yeah, I... what? Holy crap. The list of things Metafilter has taught me over the past year just gets longer.

On the plus side, at least we aren't my mother's co-worker, who, in her 40s or 50s, thought the moon actually got bigger and smaller throughout the month.
posted by skycrashesdown at 9:26 AM on January 13, 2013


I held a deep belief of mind of matter as a young child. So much so that I believed I could levitate if I just concentrated hard enough.

Ha ha ha, I thought I could levitate, too--because sometimes when my mom wanted to get me out of her hair she'd suggest I go try and levitate. So naturally I thought it was possible! I'd lie there concentrating SO HARD that I'd convince myself I actually did rise a tiny bit.

Coffee cake was a product of its time and I doubt many people under 30 have ever eaten or made it.

What? No. I still see this in restaurants. I think it's pretty common. Isn't it? Could somebody else weigh in on this? Because I'm going to feel really old if it's true. What about Drake's Cakes?

***

When I was a kid I'd look out the window on the plane and see all those lines on the ground and thought they were the lines between the states. You know, like on a map. Eventually my dad set me straight that they were actually just the streets, and then I had to seriously rejigger my sense of scale.
posted by HotToddy at 9:42 AM on January 13, 2013


I was about 30 years old, taking a geography course in preparation for my teaching degree, when I confidently asserted that we get seasons because of our distance from the sun -- that is, we're closer to the sun in summer. Which has nothing to do with it (in fact the Northern hemisphere is closest to the sun at the winter solstice). The whole notion of the axial tilt relating to seasons meant nothing to me. To be fair, A) the professor was drawing us out on this because he knew most of us had no clue on this point; and B) I grew up in Southern California, where the whole day-length part of the seasons is fairly theoretical anyway.

When I taught fourth grade, we spent a lot of time (probably an unreasonable amount) covering why seasons happen, because it pissed me off that as an adult I didn't know.
posted by argybarg at 9:45 AM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would just like to note that it is possible to make a delicious coffee cake and I still see them served at brunches (and they are eaten, not ignored).
posted by jeather at 9:48 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm 24 and I've definitely had coffee cake.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:51 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


teleri025: "I was in college before I realized that "peckerhead" was offensive because it meant dickhead and had nothing to do with being annoying like Woody Woodpecker.

I then realized why I got in so much trouble for using it in grade school so much.
"

Similarly, I thought a "bugger" was someone who bugs you.
posted by capricorn at 9:52 AM on January 13, 2013


I remember as a little kid being really annoyed that they kept interrupting my Saturday morning cartoons to talk about Watergate. I assumed that Watergate was a dam on a river that they needed to fix, and I could not understand why they didn't just fix it already instead of interrupting SuperFriends every week.
posted by ambrosia at 9:57 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Coffee cake is a common boardroom thing today in Vancouver.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:15 AM on January 13, 2013


What? No. I still see this in restaurants. I think it's pretty common. Isn't it? Could somebody else weigh in on this? Because I'm going to feel really old if it's true. What about Drake's Cakes?

Yeah, I'd call those things little miniature coffee cakes, totally.

But a lot of the time now when stuff is sold as "coffee cake" what that really means is "Okay, we made this perfectly good old-fashioned pound cake, but we're a coffee shop / brunch joint and you diet-conscious assholes won't buy it if we tell you the truth, so uh 'coffee cake' yeah that's what it is, sure."

It's a little like "muffin," which AFAICT used to refer to a specific kind of dry not-very-rich quickbread and now basically means "This is a giant sweet moist rich cupcake but if we admit that then you morons will stop buying it for breakfast on your way to the office and then we'll lose money."
posted by and so but then, we at 10:22 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


(TIL: I am a devout linguistic descriptivist until you get into cooking terms and then I become a raving prescriptivist asshole....)
posted by and so but then, we at 10:23 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was really confused about where on their bodies buffaloes grew wings. And why would such large annals grow such tiny tiny wings??
posted by rosa at 10:26 AM on January 13, 2013


I'm with you on the muffin thing. Those things are muffins.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:26 AM on January 13, 2013


I'm not under 30, but I do make coffeecake and sometimes take it into the office, where it does not seem to confuse or confound the under-30s therein.

When I was little I thought that some sidewalks sparkled because they mixed sugar into the concrete when they were poured, because sugar cookies are sparkly.

Since I have no children I am still mystified about belly buttons.
posted by caryatid at 10:28 AM on January 13, 2013


I didn't realize until my mid-30's that pimentos AREN'T the natural red center of an olive. Was in a Whole Foods with a friend and saw some olives stuffed with onions and asked him how they got the pimentos out to stuff in the little onions.

He looked at me like I was stupid.
posted by matty at 10:29 AM on January 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I thought that the continental United States and North America were the same thing. I remember being about six and turning a map of the US every which way to try to make it look like North America.

I also remember asking my mom how to spell the letter 'a.'
posted by fozzie_bear at 10:33 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Coffee cake was a product of its time and I doubt many people under 30 have ever eaten or made it.

My Grandma's of New England -- "The Original Coffee Cake From Boston."
posted by ericb at 10:37 AM on January 13, 2013


I was horrified by the idea of cremation as a child as I thought it would hurt too much. Gradually decomposing underground seemed so much more humane.

Another one was a concern when I learned that trees grow from hundreds of acorns and seeds that trees would soon take over the city that I was growing up in and the planet in general.

I guess I've always been a bit of a worrier.
posted by duncan42 at 10:42 AM on January 13, 2013


I always thought "a watched pot never boils" meant that if you want something to happen, don't hover over it - step back and just let it happen naturally.

Then one day Mr. Wheek asked me to stop taking the cover off the pasta water to check if it's boiling, and just listen for the boil, because every time I was looking at the water I was letting all the hot air out and it would take forever to boil. Mind blown!


No, you had it right. Water doesn't need to be covered to boil. Covering it and not opening it up to check may make it boil faster, but it will boil.

It's just an expression.
posted by Sara C. at 10:46 AM on January 13, 2013


Coffee cake was a product of its time

Fascinating. I always just assumed it was one of those Kind Of Boring Things They Serve After Church, like danishes, pound cake, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 10:51 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The lie that my dad told me that I remember best was the answer to my question about why birds don't get electrocuted when they sit on electrical wires: because they wear little rubber-soled sneakers. I believed this for years. I still love the mental picture of it.

See, this right here is why I'm ok with parental white lies about this stuff.

Because my parents just said, "They just don't, OK?" and eventually I stopped asking. And then I stopped wondering. I'd rather a creative fib that makes the world a more interesting place to explore than "the fact that you have all these questions is really annoying me."
posted by Sara C. at 10:54 AM on January 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Coffee cake was a product of its time and I doubt many people under 30 have ever eaten or made it. It wasn't particularly exciting, being a cross between quickbread and cake.

Coffee cake was my favorite thing in the world when I was a kid. I haven’t had it (or any cake) in forever, but I’m kind of excited just thinking about it.
posted by bongo_x at 10:59 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well into adulthood, I thought 1% milk was 1% fat, same with 2 and whole milk was 4. Half and half was 50% and cream was 100% fat.

Either the first sentence is true, or I'm still suffering some childhood delusion. Regarding the second, Wikipedia says half-and-half is 10.5% to 18% and cream (light, medium, heavy, manufacturers) is 18% to 40%.
posted by afiler at 11:00 AM on January 13, 2013


When I was a kid I heard the first line in the chorus of The Eagles' "New Kid In Town" ("Johnny-come-lately / The new kid in town") as "Johnny come lay me"...long before I had any idea what "getting laid" meant. It went over poorly with the parents of the neighbor kid I carpooled to school with when it came on the radio and I decided to sing along.
posted by Lazlo Nibble at 11:01 AM on January 13, 2013


I think these little lies that parents tell us are actually just jokes with a very long fuse. When you're old enough to figure out they're not true, you're old enough to think they're hilarious, as demonstrated by this comments section and the one linked in the FPP. Some of these people are probably learning the truth after their parents have passed away, which I find kind of heartwarming - even when people have gone from our lives, they can still make us laugh when the punchline hits.

Disclaimer: my parents did not do this. My misconceptions are mostly the result of misunderstanding correct factual explanations.
posted by capricorn at 11:06 AM on January 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


This thread has taught me something I didn't suspect: coffee cake is going out of style. It must be going out of style somewhere the heck else, because here in Massachusetts it's everywhere, even in muffin form at the Dunks. Simple cinnamon crumb-streusel cake -- who could say no to that? I don't remember thinking that coffee cake was all that regional when I moved up from the South. I certainly knew about it there.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:27 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was only a year or two ago that I realized Leslie Nielsen and Liam Neeson were not the same person. I was always like, "He's doing dramatic stuff now? I don't think I wanna see that."
posted by cmoj at 11:28 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


cmoj, Leslie Nielsen started out with dramatic stuff, I think (not a film expert). I watched a little bit of him acting Normal and found that I am really primed to laugh at pretty much anything he does now.
posted by theredpen at 11:32 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think these little lies that parents tell us are actually just jokes with a very long fuse. When you're old enough to figure out they're not true, you're old enough to think they're hilarious, as demonstrated by this comments section and the one linked in the FPP. Some of these people are probably learning the truth after their parents have passed away, which I find kind of heartwarming - even when people have gone from our lives, they can still make us laugh when the punchline hits.

Yeah, totally. My dad has a story like this. His grandpa used to tell him "Don't scratch your head — you'll get splinters." And he used to be like "Okay, old people say dumb shit, whatever." And then finally when he was in college, long after his grandpa had passed away, he got the joke, and I get the sense it was a really bittersweet moment for him — but definitely bittersweet rather than straight-up bitter.
posted by and so but then, we at 11:40 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the rumors of the death of coffee cake in this thread are greatly exaggerated. They sell it at Starbucks, for goodness sake.
posted by donajo at 11:43 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think coffee cake baked from scratch at home by carless housewives with access to only pantry staples (and with some items like butter and eggs expensive or in short/seasonal supply) who need to entertain social callers in the home is probably long passed out of fashion.

I think coffee cake as a food is, as I said, on par with various other types of sweet breads and breakfast breads for serving at a large gathering, or on the menu of a cafe. But, like a lot of other foods, it's divorced from its original social function.

I still think of it as a sort of 50's middle America casseroles and jello molds sort of food, but it's true that you definitely see it around.
posted by Sara C. at 11:45 AM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I suppose if you can legitimately get toasted teacake in England without it needing tea in it, then you can get coffee cake in the US that doesn't need to have coffee in it.

I love coffee cake (with coffee in it).
posted by knapah at 11:54 AM on January 13, 2013


All this coffee cake talk has produced in me a burning desire to go bake a cinnamon streusel coffee cake just for myself. At home, from scratch.

However, I do have a car and I am not married, not even to my house.
posted by caryatid at 12:02 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


No coffee cake in America has coffee in it. It's not a matter of choosing not to put coffee in as an ingredient. That's simply not what coffee cake is, here.

Do "teacakes" actually have tea in them? I always assumed they were cakes to have with tea. And then I googled and Wikipedia showed me something that, to my eye, looks like a bagel. Those things have tea in them, somewhere?
posted by Sara C. at 12:03 PM on January 13, 2013


it was embarassingly late in my life when I understood what caused phases of the moon

... oh. Huh. Would you look at that.
posted by hades at 12:05 PM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ah! Here's what it is!

The social meaning of pranks and practical jokes (and lies, and...) is culture-dependent.

In some cultures or subcultures, pranking someone is a compliment. Pranks tend to be light-hearted and mostly harmless, and the social rule is "You only play pranks on members of your own in-group." And so if someone pranks you, the feeling is mostly a good one. "Aww — you went to all that trouble just to demonstrate that I'm part of the group? That's so sweet of you! I feel so loved and accepted!"

In those cultures, being pranked in public — even if it involves making a mistake in public — isn't really deeply embarrassing. It might be embarrassing for a moment, because you still did fall for something. But the dominant feeling is love and inclusion. Because, remember, pranks mean "You're in, we love you, we think you're important, and we're willing to invest effort in proving it by setting up big elaborate games for you to play." So being pranked in public means you've just been held up in public as a loved and valued and included member of the community. What's not to like?

On the other hand, in some cultures or subcultures, pranking someone is a serious insult. The rule is "You only play pranks on outsiders and people of low status." So when someone pranks you, you experience it as an insult, and when someone pranks you in public, you experience it as public humiliation.

I think the US has shifted in the past few generations from being dominated by the first kind of culture to being dominated by the second. (American middle schools and high schools definitely operate under the second set of rules — pranks are understood as a form of bullying, as something you do to keep unpopular kids in their place — and I'd guess that's part of the reason for the shift.)

When Granddad tricked Dad into buying some ludicrous tall tale, and Dad innocently repeated the tall tale in public, he came out feeling like "Aww, Granddad just treated me like a valued member of the community in front of all my friends and relatives. Thanks, Granddad!" But then it's possible for Dad to try to give Son the same warm fuzzy experience but for it to backfire due to the cultural change that's taken place, so that Son comes out feeling like "What the fuck, Dad? You just went and treated me like some sort of low-status outsider in front of all my friends and relatives? So what, you don't think I even belong as part of this familiy?! Fuck you!"
posted by and so but then, we at 12:06 PM on January 13, 2013 [30 favorites]


I grew up in Worcester, MA. For the longest time I thought there was some other town in the state called Worchester – I didn't get this from reading it, but from hearing other people say it.

ATMs used to print their receipts using dot-matrix impact printers, much noisier than these modern thermal doohickeys. I once asked my dad what the noise was, and he told me it was "printing". Naturally, I thought he meant it was printing the money.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:09 PM on January 13, 2013


Oh yeah, and I thought those "END CONSTRUCTION" signs were protest signs.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:12 PM on January 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


When I was young, a friend of my mom warned me not to swallow bubble gum. Ever.
Because, you see, the gum is obviously not digested and it is also pretty sticky. So it will clog up the stomach and the entrance to it, so once you've eaten too much bubble gum you will not be able to process any food and will starve to death.

I must have been around 20 when I figured out that that cannot be true and to this day, I can't bring myself to swallow bubble gum (not that I eat a lot of it these days). I'm still not entirely sure if mom's friend believed this stuff herself, which would not have been entirely out of character.
posted by sour cream at 12:18 PM on January 13, 2013


Do "teacakes" actually have tea in them? I always assumed they were cakes to have with tea. And then I googled and Wikipedia showed me something that, to my eye, looks like a bagel. Those things have tea in them, somewhere?
No. But as you say, in terms of meaning, teacake in England is named in the same way coffecake in the US: after the drink you eat it with. It's just that coffee cake in England is made with coffee, not drunk with it, so is named differently.

(To muddle things further, a teacake is also a chocolate and marshmallow biscuit, and the greatest food export of Scotland after Irn Bru.)
posted by Jehan at 12:19 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jehan is all over the baked goods to have with hot beverages discussion today.

My comment was a simple attempt to point out that it would be a bit silly for me to get annoyed about 'coffee cake' meaning 'thing to have with coffee' in the US, when 'teacake' means 'thing to have with tea' here.
posted by knapah at 12:26 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I grew up in Worcester, MA. For the longest time I thought there was some other town in the state called Worchester – I didn't get this from reading it, but from hearing other people say it.

So I was having breakfast in a fancy hotel in Mexico City (business trip, not my dime) and the guy at the table next to me flagged down a waiter, and asked, in English, for "Worchester Sauce." The waiter apologized and asked him to say it again. "Worchester Sauce!" the guy said, loudly. The waiter looked flummoxed and abashed that he didn't understand what was being requested.

I couldn't help intervening- I leaned over and told the waiter what the guy was asking for was Salsa Inglesa, and after bringing it, the waiter came back to me to ask me to write down what the guy had said so he would understand it the next time. I tried to explain to the waiter that the guy at the next table was pronouncing it wrong. The waiter appeared reluctant to believe that native English speakers mispronounce English words. "Oh, happens all the time" I assured him.

This thread totally backs me up.
posted by ambrosia at 12:46 PM on January 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wow I honestly did not know that people still eat coffee cake-- I probably haven't had any in 30 years and I am sure my daughter wouldn't know what it is. Brownies, poundcake, and banana bread are much more popular to my friends and family. Not to mention real cake with frosting. Or-- if you are having coffee-- donuts or danish or croissants or scones. Boring old coffee cake? Blccch.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:50 PM on January 13, 2013


There's a place near where I live that does a yeasted coffee cake and it is Delicious.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:13 PM on January 13, 2013


I loved James Brown when I was a kid (still do) but I was convinced for years that "I'm a Soul Man" was actually "I Was SO MAD"...
posted by rollbiz at 1:20 PM on January 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Not-quite-coffee-cake: as part of my recovery from eating very badly while on deadlines this December (that is, eating almost nothing but tea biscuits[1] and tea), I found this recipe for something I renamed Scurvy Cake. It actually makes a somewhat crumbly top on its own, although if you want to add a brown sugar topping, you can.

(And I know it's not real coffee cake because it has fruit, but many people have cranberries deep in the freezer and a few apples about, so it's still a what-can-I-pull-together bit of baking with a nice surprise of a crumbly top.)

Cake related myth: I wouldn't eat raw cake batter until I was in my twenties because my mother said the uncooked flour would give us worms. WRONG THREAD, MOM!

[1] Not made with tea. Not to be confused with Rich Tea or Social Tea, which are the cookie kind of biscuits. What Americans just call biscuits and have with sausage and white gravy.
posted by maudlin at 1:28 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Short and True story:

Jim and I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley. Along the eastern side, the railroad runs. Every Small towns were established at more or less regular intervals, mostly as collection points for the massive produce grown in the area, with railroad spurs abutting the line of warehouses at the edges of these small towns. Each town had an ice-making plant to service the train cars: drop a few tons of ice on top the cars, or in the bins, to cool the produce being shipped. All kids who play along train tracks in those days know about the ice-plants, because you could find lots of ice lying around melting on hot summer days.

Fast forward ten years. Jim and I join the Army together, and get our basic training at Fort Ord, near Monterey. We run to the beach every day to the firing ranges. One morning our range was sort of crowded, so the training sergeant tells Jim (who's a squad-leader), to take his squad down the beach a ways, to the firing range that's next to the ice plants. (At this point, you will have to know that ice-plants are a sort of bromileade ground cover that grows wild along the coast in California. Not many kids growing up in the San Joaquin Valley know this.

Jim is gone for several hours. The training sergeants mumble among themselves, speculating whether he may have taken his squad into Seaside for lunch or something. Just before it's time to go back to the barracks, Jim comes trotting in at double time with his squad, halts them in front of the training sergeant and reports.

Training sergeat: Where the hell have you been private? I told you to go down by the ice plants and report....

Jim: I couldn't even find the railroad tracks.
posted by mule98J at 1:33 PM on January 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


When I was really little -- before I could read -- we were at a Chinese restaurant, and after dinner my mom read my fortune cookie to me: "You will grow up to become a ballerina." I was easily into my 20s before I realized it didn't say that at all!

ambrosia: I remember as a little kid being really annoyed that they kept interrupting my Saturday morning cartoons to talk about Watergate. I assumed that Watergate was a dam on a river that they needed to fix, and I could not understand why they didn't just fix it already instead of interrupting SuperFriends every week.

When I was a little kid I kept hearing about something that made me afraid of turning on any of the water faucets. When my parents asked me why I was afraid, I told them I heard about all the Watergate bugs and didn't want to let any in the house.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:43 PM on January 13, 2013


The waiter appeared reluctant to believe that native English speakers mispronounce English words.

I have a francophone friend who, after lots of questions about English pronunciation rules especially about stressed syllables, realised that (a) even anglophones can't always predict the correct stress or pronunciation (though there are generally only a few possibilities) and (b) they get it wrong all the time. He was rather pleased that his difficulty in figuring out pronunciations wasn't just that he was too stupid to figure out the rules.
posted by jeather at 1:45 PM on January 13, 2013


When I was a kid, I (European) thought there was a commonly agreed on 'date hour' in America because in American tv series and movies phone calls always went

- Want to go to a movie/to the mall/on a date some time?
- Yes!
- Great! I'll pick you up!
- Okay!

And with that, everybody seemed to know enough.

I also thought Americans bought each other presents that were in a box with a separately-wrapped lid so they could just take the lid off. I believe I read on AskMe that this was a tv trope.
posted by Skyanth at 1:55 PM on January 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm amazed at people saying coffee cake is boring. How is coffee cake, which features delicious cinnamon strudel, more boring than pound cake? And kids that don't even know what coffee cake is? This thread is too upsetting, I'm going back to the parasitic worm spewing out of the spider.
posted by HotToddy at 2:08 PM on January 13, 2013 [16 favorites]


Also (far more embarrassing): back in the modem days my roommate and I were fixing up an internet connection at home and he for some reason suggested we wedge the phone cable under $some_object, and I (who was actually working at an ISP support desk at the time and was completely up to speed with the software side of things) said: 'But won't that stop the bits from getting through?'

Oh man.
posted by Skyanth at 2:16 PM on January 13, 2013


Wow I honestly did not know that people still eat coffee cake-- I probably haven't had any in 30 years and I am sure my daughter wouldn't know what it is. Brownies, poundcake, and banana bread are much more popular to my friends and family. Not to mention real cake with frosting. Or-- if you are having coffee-- donuts or danish or croissants or scones. Boring old coffee cake? Blccch.

/me summons En-Ten-Mann, dark lord of coffee cake, to smite you with righteous pecan rings.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:17 PM on January 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


> "I think these little lies that parents tell us are actually just jokes with a very long fuse. When you're old enough to figure out they're not true, you're old enough to think they're hilarious ..."

This makes sense to me.

> "The social meaning of pranks and practical jokes (and lies, and...) is culture-dependent. In some cultures or subcultures, pranking someone is a compliment ... On the other hand, in some cultures or subcultures, pranking someone is a serious insult."

And this makes sense to me, too. Thanks for the explanations, both of you. Those both make a lot more sense than 'it's good for the kids, teaches them not to trust' thing, which sounded uncomfortably like 'yeah, you should be mean to your kids, toughens 'em up'.

My parents didn't do this, and the only basis I had for comparison were the times I was misled by teachers in school, all of which left me feeling angry and resentful. On the other hand, those were neither intentional jokes not friendly pranks, so I admit the emotional stakes were likely different.

Interestingly, my brother does do the 'wrong explanation' thing with my niece - like, all the time. Almost every time she asks a question. I wonder where he picked that up, culturally.

As far as I can tell, my niece finds it massively irritating.
posted by kyrademon at 2:21 PM on January 13, 2013


I thought for a long time- until I was 35 or so- that mis-led was a separate word from "misled" pronounced mizeled.

Also, until my first semester of college, I swear to you, I did not know that girls farted.
posted by dave78981 at 2:36 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


My earliest dateable memory is based on a misconception.

After Sesame Street, 3.2.1 Contact, and Electric Company, our local PBS station had the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour. If dinner wasn't ready, I'd watch it. Well, one day I came crying into the kitchen because George Jefferson was dead. Actuallly, it was Anwar Sadat, but to a six year old...
posted by notsnot at 2:47 PM on January 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Even though I knew how to pronounce "segue", a friend had to point out to me that the name "Segway" was making a reference to it.
posted by benito.strauss


Do I get to count you as a friend then, benito.strauss?

Wool blankets are warmer than cotton ones because they're made from the hair of warm-blooded mammals. Duh.
posted by vers


I think this is true.

The corollary, that the last thing an airborne seed would want was a fright wig that would repel water and keep it from sticking to wet ground had never occurred to me, though. Now that you've pointed me in that direction, I'd be surprised if cotton didn't pull water out of the air, and that that's what makes it so hard to dry.

I was a late reader growing up in a snowy climate, and I thought the girl with an umbrella in a storm on the Morton's box was reminding you that salt would keep your sidewalks from being icy.

I have distinct memories of hairy brown coconuts held suspiciously high and tight against the fronds of palm trees from cartoons. I hope I didn't totally make those up.
posted by jamjam at 2:55 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was a very long time before I realized what the song "Relax," by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, was actually about.

For me it was "Pull up to the Bumper". Grace Jones claims it isn't about anal sex, but:
Pull up to my bumper baby
In your long black limousine
Pull up to my bumper baby
Drive it in between
......
Grease it
Spray it
Let me lubricate it
posted by benito.strauss at 3:10 PM on January 13, 2013


I have a francophone friend who, ... realised that even anglophones can't always predict the correct stress or pronunciation ...

So, I moved to Massachusetts after growing up in Southern California, where most of the place names are Spanish, which has a very regular pronunciation. Massachusetts has pretty weird pronunciations. British place names get very eroded:

Worcester = "wistah"
Peabody = "pee-bu-dee"
Medford = "meh-fuh"

while there are Indian names that have their own rhythm, and get fully pronounced:

Wampanoag
Ponkapoag
Shawmut
Winnipesaukee
and, of course, Massachusetts

So when I came across the name "Scituate" I had to guess which camp it fell in to. I guessed wrong. It should be slurred into "sitchwit". I pronounced it "skit-oo-a-tee". Native Massachusetters love to laugh at me when I tell that story.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:47 PM on January 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


I hated raw onion as a kid, still do in fact. Mom always chopped green onions into the salad, and I'd complain about the onions because one or two would sneak through after I'd picked through.

During a usual complaining session, Mom said in all seriousness, "Those aren't onions, they're figments." Figments? "Go ahead and try them anyway." I pissed and moaned through that whole salad, but I ate the figments.

Something to the effect of, so now that wasn't so bad, was it? I insisted, figments taste just like onions and I don't like figments either.

"Figments" are a decades-old funny family story now, still used as a euphemism for raw green onions.
posted by wallabear at 3:47 PM on January 13, 2013


I loved James Brown when I was a kid (still do) but I was convinced for years that "I'm a Soul Man" was actually "I Was SO MAD"...

Hate to break it to you, but "Soul Man" was by Sam and Dave, not James Brown.
posted by argybarg at 3:54 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


dougiedd: "Close friend was disabused of the idea that Beluga caviar came from Beluga whales at age 21; he has never been the same."

Wait. What?!

LN: "My Dad loves to tell this story... Suddenly, buddy hollers loudly from across the store: "Bernie, c'mere! They got a new kind of grapefruit, it's called a Pample-mousse"! (pamplemousse being the french word for grapefruit).

To this day, we intentionally mispronounce French words and work them into everyday speech. Anyone want an ar-a-chide (peanut)?
"

I love grapefruit soda and live in British Columbia. The mister and I deliberately call it pample-moose.

I recently realised that draught=draft not drawt.
posted by deborah at 3:57 PM on January 13, 2013


notsnot, re: George Jefferson, I hate to break it to you....
posted by JHarris at 4:09 PM on January 13, 2013


JHarris: "notsnot, re: George Jefferson, I hate to break it to you...."

Yeah, I know.
posted by notsnot at 4:26 PM on January 13, 2013


I was also confused by the appearance of "Prussia" in the books about military uniforms, since "Prussia" was not on any map I'd seen.

Oh god, I was so convinced that every book was misspelling "Russia." All of them.


And don't get me started on Bessarabia, which, as I discovered, has nothing to do with Arabia.
posted by acb at 4:56 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


After Sesame Street, 3.2.1 Contact, and Electric Company, our local PBS station had the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour. If dinner wasn't ready, I'd watch it. Well, one day I came crying into the kitchen because George Jefferson was dead. Actuallly, it was Anwar Sadat, but to a six year old...

Okay, I'm missing something here. Didn't watch much television as a kid. What do those two have in common?
posted by and so but then, we at 5:15 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am 35 and have been living with/married to an equestrian for almost 10 years. It wasn't until last summer that I learned that ponies aren't baby horses. I learned it the hard way too, at a stable and every thing. One of the mares was preggers and I said "when will she deliver her pony?", to about 8 people.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 5:15 PM on January 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


What do those two have in common?

Umm, they're both black with similar hairlines, perhaps?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:30 PM on January 13, 2013


British place names get very eroded:

Worcester = "wistah"


Unless you're just talking about it being pronounced with a Boston accent, that's the way it's pronounced in Britain: click on the pronunciation link (the little speaker icon in the first sentence) in the Wikipedia article for the British city. There's a wicked lotta silent letters - it's a syncope, sorta like the way forecastle is pronounced. (In fact, Worcester is one of the examples in the syncope article.)
posted by XMLicious at 5:45 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Australia, sliced bread was packaged in plastic bags closed with little coloured plastic ties (rectangular clips), whose colour denoted which weekday the bread had been baked on. The side of the bag had a table listing the correspondence between tie colours and days.

When I was a little kid, I thought that there was a cultural rule that adults who wore neckties were expected to wear a specific colour on each day of the week, and that the table was provided as a public service to remind grown-ups who might otherwise forget.
posted by acb at 5:45 PM on January 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


What do those two [Anwar Sadat and George Jefferson] have in common?

Umm, they're both black with similar hairlines, perhaps?

By Jove, I think you've got it!
posted by dhens at 5:48 PM on January 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I heard the first line of the American national anthem thusly: "Oh say can you see? By the danseurly light". Now, I had seen some pretty sunsets in my time, and I thought danseurly sounded like a perfectly cromulent adjective to describe a beautiful sky. Clever child that I was, I employed that adjective to describe something else I found to be ineffably beautiful. I was disabused of that notion pretty quickly upon use of the word at about age seven. I have long continued to think, though, that danseurly is a lovely word.

Also, some stupid nuns taught me that the cerebrum and cerebellum are what composed the two halves of the brain. I was in college before I figured that one out. Stupid nuns.
posted by msali at 6:17 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Might as well post this here as anywhere. Growing up reading, I learned words, lots and lots of words in vast heaps.

In one confused word heap: esoteric, erotic, xenophobic, anaerobic, exotic, erroneous.

And that, Dear Readers, is more than you need to know.
posted by vers at 6:28 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Oh say can you see? By the danseurly light".
--msali

That happens in a Judy Bloom or Beaverly Cleary book, as well. The character thinks that a 'dawnzer' is the same thing as a lamp.
posted by lkc at 6:38 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Oh say can you see? By the danseurly light".
--msali

That happens in a Judy Bloom or Beaverly Cleary book, as well. The character thinks that a 'dawnzer' is the same thing as a lamp.


Beverly Cleary! It was Ramona.
posted by skycrashesdown at 6:41 PM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


The gum comments reminded me that it was an embarrassingly long time before I realized that it did not take 7 years to digest a swallowed piece of gum.

I also thought the chorus of "Heartache Tonight" by the Eagles was "There's gonna be a party tonight, a party tonight, I know." And Jackson Browne's "For A Rocker" was "For Robert."
posted by SisterHavana at 6:43 PM on January 13, 2013


In fact, Ramona is the poster child for a lot of this. The first time she has to walk to school by herself, she gets there ten minutes late - 8:25 instead of 8:15 - because she has the same confusion about 25 cents in a quarter but 15 minutes in a quarter of an hour.
posted by skycrashesdown at 6:43 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


So I just realized something. My four year old was at a birthday party a few months ago. He was standing at the snack table and said, "those dried carrots sure are tasty." I looked at what he was eating. Cheese doodles. I said nothing.

Ever since, we have called Cheese doodles "dried carrots."

This is how these things get started.
posted by ambrosia at 6:59 PM on January 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have had many adults repeat to me the "fact" that "every cell in the body is replaced every seven years."

So I ask them if they've ever seen an eight-year-old tattoo. There's this look that people get.

I have gotten that look so many times in this thread. WTF PINEAPPLES!
posted by davidjmcgee at 7:29 PM on January 13, 2013


(this is now when somebody corrects me and points out that I'm TOTALLY WRONG and shows something I'm missing about cell reproduction. 3... 2... 1...)
posted by davidjmcgee at 7:35 PM on January 13, 2013


My older brother and I loved listening to Weird Al. There's a line in the song Gump that questions, "Is he inbred?". I must have been ~10 at the time, hadn't seen the movie, and had no idea why someone would be in bread. What in the hell could that mean? What does bread and/or baking have to do with someone's head?

I remember trying to figure it out, "Well... you have to bake bread in an oven. An oven is full of hot air... so he's full of hot air? That kind of makes sense. Nah, that's fucking stupid... You're stupid. It says later that he thought me makes a lot of bread... Bread...Dough... Like the Pillsbury Dough Boy! Maybe he's fat?" But having seen the trailer for the movie I knew that he wasn't and really why would you have to ask if someone is doughy?

I wasn't ready to give up and let my brother in on the fact that the song we had listened to on repeat for the last two weeks, which I claimed to be my favorite, actually made no damn sense. In an effort to figure it out I transcribed the rest of the lyrics. Similar to the english section of the SATs that would plague me 8 years later the surrounding text provided no insight to then ten year old me.

Admitting defeat, I asked my brother.

"He's in bread?"

"Yeah, he's inbred."

"Oh... Why?"

"His parent's were related."

"But what does that have to do with bread?"

"That's what it means to be inbred."

"Oh. Ok... Bakers are weird"

/puzzled look from brother.

A couple years later when I watched the movie and didn't see any god damn bread, I decided to ask my mom who with a little smirk told me what it actually meant.
posted by Quack at 8:25 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh dear, the watched pot boiling thing reminded me of my own silly.

I took thermodynamics in college because I am a scientist. So I was well-acquainted with PV=nRT.

I religiously kept the cover on all those pots of cheap, college pasta water, and I always used a heavy cover. I reasoned that the slight increase in pressure from the water evaporating during the heating on the way to boiling could only help in speeding up the time to boil, and I don't know, a NON-airtight cover was somehow going to contain enough of the pressure increase to actually have an effect.

My now-husband pointed out my silliness. Turns out trying to apply PV=nRT to making pasta is just really overthinking it.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:45 PM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


British place names get very eroded

My parents -- recall that they are both from Quebec, and my father went to a French high school -- went on a trip to England together (also maybe Wales) and were looking and looking for Beaulieu. They asked all sorts of people, none of whom had ever even heard of this place. This puzzled them, as it was supposed to be a fairly common tourist destination. Finally they pointed it out on a map to somone.

"Oh, you mean Buelly." (First syllable pronounced sort of like Bueller-as-in-Ferris.)

Turns out trying to apply PV=nRT to making pasta is just really overthinking it.

So seriously, keeping the pot lid on boiling water doesn't help? I really thought it did.
posted by jeather at 8:52 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


> "(this is now when somebody corrects me and points out that I'm TOTALLY WRONG and shows something I'm missing about cell reproduction. 3... 2... 1...)"

Bearing in mind I am not an expert, from what I can tell:

Tattoo particles lie in the dermis, which is not replaced as rapidly as the epidermis (which I believe renews itself completely ever two weeks or so). But the cells in the dermis, while very stable, do die and get replaced.

However, tattoos are not cells. Skin cells may die, but the ink particles don't. And the particles that form tattoos can't be ingested by the white bloods cells that patrol the body and carry foreign bodies away from the skin. They do fade a bit over time as some ink particles migrate too deeply into the body to be seen, or fade, as most pigments do, from light exposure.

However, it also isn't true that "every cell in your body is replaced every seven years". Many do get replaced -- and some cells are replaced very rapidly, like epidermal cells (they last a couple of weeks) and the cells that line the surface of your gut (maybe a week). Red blood cells last about a third of a year, and your liver cells last a year or two. Your skeleton is likely replaced every ten years or so. Cells from the muscles of the ribs and the main body of the gut, taken from people in their late 30's, have been shown to have an average age of around 15 years. (My guess would be a similar timeline for the dermis).

However, the neurons of your cerebral cortex, the inner lens cells of your eye, and at least some of the muscle cells of your heart may last your entire lifetime (heart muscles cells are replaced, but very, very slowly, so a great many stick around for your whole life.)
posted by kyrademon at 8:53 PM on January 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


> "So seriously, keeping the pot lid on boiling water doesn't help? I really thought it did."

It will, but not because of increased pressure. The pressure increase is so slight that the effect is insignificant. (And in fact, if it did have an effect, it would probably be to make the water take longer to boil, because increased pressure increases the temperature at which water boils, meaning you'd have to get it hotter.)

However, putting a lid on a pot keeps does keep more heat energy from escaping into the air. This is a significant effect.

So yes, water will boil faster with a lid on.
posted by kyrademon at 9:08 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, people boil water with a lid on? I’ve never heard of that.
posted by bongo_x at 9:36 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hadn't either. Then I found myself in a relationship with someone who insisted that water will NEVER boil if you don't keep it tightly lidded and Never Peek. It was the first serious live-in relationship for both of us, so we constantly found ourselves going head to head about stupid shit like how to boil water or whether cups face up or down in the cupboard.
posted by Sara C. at 10:24 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm probably the only one who sang "We three kings of orey and tar" as a kid.
posted by jcreigh at 10:27 PM on January 13, 2013


On the plus side, at least we aren't my mother's co-worker, who, in her 40s or 50s, thought the moon actually got bigger and smaller throughout the month.

Err...it does. (well, it doesn't physically shrink or grow, but due to the shape of its orbit, the moon does move closer and further from the Earth, causing a noticeable difference in its apparent size.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:42 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, people boil water with a lid on? I’ve never heard of that.

The lid helps retain heat, which makes the temperature rise faster. I'm surprised this isn't categorized as second nature to most people, given the popularity of things like blankets, hats, and lids on coffee cups.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:58 PM on January 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, if you put a blanket and a couple hats on top of the lid, it boils even faster.
posted by and so but then, we at 11:02 PM on January 13, 2013 [16 favorites]


As a very young boy, I deducted that since the mommy produces milk for the baby, then the daddy must be responsible for saliva for the baby, because I could produce a lot of it, and daddies had to be useful for something.
posted by breadbox at 11:14 PM on January 13, 2013


Also, if you put a blanket and a couple hats on top of the lid, it boils even faster.

(Quickly trademarks 'Cauldron Cozy')

Another one that (very recently) blew my mind was from the related AskMe thread (linked above) was this:

My reflection in the mirror is 1/2 life size.

It took a little while to grok that one, since it's quite obvious that an object held against a mirror clearly lines up with its reflection. A 12" ruler does not suddenly show up as 6" long, etc.

What it really means in that if you stand 2 feet from a mirror, your reflection is the same apparent size of a person standing 4 feet away. (since your reflection is actually 2 feet "into" the mirror)

In terms of visible area, your reflection could be more accurately described as 1/4 size, since both height and width are halved.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:47 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a kid I loved watching nature shows on television, and Sir David Attenborough was my hero (still is). There was just one thing I didn't understand: that there was a country so big, so geographically diverse that it could have both frozen wastes and an obviously very hot savanna. My native language isn't English, so I hadn't realized that when they showed "penguins swimming in slow motion" and "a cheetah running in slow motion" they were talking about slowing down the film. I just thought "slowmotion" was a name of some far-away country.
posted by brokkr at 2:09 AM on January 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


It wasn't until I had a baby that I realised the belly button wasn't made by the doctor tying a knot in the umbilical cord. I'd always assumed outies were the botched ones.

I don't know if it's eponysterical or not that I believed this until reading this comment.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:40 AM on January 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


On the plus side, at least we aren't my mother's co-worker, who, in her 40s or 50s, thought the moon actually got bigger and smaller throughout the month.

Err...it does. (well, it doesn't physically shrink or grow, but due to the shape of its orbit, the moon does move closer and further from the Earth, causing a noticeable difference in its apparent size.


Yes, but she thought it went from a sphere to a crescent and back. Actually grew and shrank.
posted by skycrashesdown at 6:08 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm suddenly remembering seeing a map of Africa in a book in second grade, and being horrified that such racism still existed that they could get away with naming a country THAT WORD.
posted by mimi at 6:55 AM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, but she thought it went from a sphere to a crescent and back. Actually grew and shrank.

Ah, I see.

That's...oh my.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:09 AM on January 14, 2013


I posted this in the other thread, but:

My grandfather lived for this kind of thing, and had such perfect deadpan delivery that we all bought into it until a much later age than we had any right doing so. I'm an excellent whistler, because on car trips the windows would only roll up and down if you whistled at them; the Christmas tree would only light up if you sang carols to it; one of my cousins once got into a schoolyard scrap because no one believed that her grandpa was one of the original Beach Boys; my sister and I independently believed that mile markers on highways were relics of a decades-old intercontinental bicycle race until we were in our early teens.

My wife and I recently discovered that we are having a daughter, and I'm planning my Calvin's-dad routine even before planning the nursery.
posted by Mayor West at 7:22 AM on January 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


skycrashesdown: "she thought it went from a sphere to a crescent and back. Actually grew and shrank."
How else would you explain the ? The placement of the star means that it is either closer to Earth than the Moon, which is patently ridiculous, or that the Moon is not (at the time of depiction) spherical.
posted by brokkr at 7:50 AM on January 14, 2013


Mayor West - make your daughter blow on red traffic lights to make them turn green. It was years and years before my kids figured out that I was telling them to blow when I saw the light on the cross street turn yellow. They used to congratulate themselves on really helping me out by making that light change so quickly.
posted by artychoke at 8:12 AM on January 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I used to think that airplanes had parachutes under every seat in case of emergency. I think at a young age, I heard "life jacket" and mixed it up with parachute and never gave it another thought until, well into adulthood, I took a trans-Pacific flight and was pondering the logistics of jumping out of an airplane with no training.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:13 AM on January 14, 2013


I was in my early 20s when I realized that Hawaii wasn't an adults-only destination.

In 2nd grade, I had asked my friend's parents why they didn't take him and his sister on their trip. They replied that Hawaii was 18 and up. I had even justified seeing kids in TV shows and movies because I thought there was some exception for kids being born there.
posted by gagoumot at 8:34 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, and I thought those "END CONSTRUCTION" signs were protest signs.

That reminds me of a hilarious moment produced by a friend of mine - after driving past one of those 'END ROAD WORK' signs, he muttered 'Fucking libertarians."
posted by FatherDagon at 9:16 AM on January 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


I grew up in the south. My 9th grade health teacher said the word groin is pronounced "grow-in." My husband (a yankee of course) almost wet himself the first time I used that word.

And...I thought people made babies by kissing until I was in the 9th grade. (My YOUNGER sisters explained the plumbing to me) and I was determined to kiss anyway!
posted by byjingo! at 9:58 AM on January 14, 2013


theredpen: "OH, and growing up around people with thick New England accents made me insert phantom "R"s into all sorts of words -- I thought the name "Candice" should properly be pronounced "Canders," for instance, because I was used to translating in my head. (Also thought "Abenaki" was "Abernaki," etc.) UNTIL HIGH SCHOOL with the Canders thing. Thank god I always called her Candy."

I was in my mid 20s before I realized that Aunt (pronounced ain't, because I'm from the Southern US) Iler and Aunt Emmer were actually Aunt Ila and Aunt Emma. Granted, they were great-aunts and I'm not sure I ever even met them in person. I had no idea my family had a habit of adding "r" to the end of words ending with "a." They are still called Iler and Emmer, even though I pointed it out as wrong.
posted by persephone's rant at 10:26 AM on January 14, 2013


They are still called Iler and Emmer, even though I pointed it out as wrong.

The phantom r is often added between words that end and start with vowels. You may find that the family would say "Iller and Emmer are coming over. Ila broke her leg." That's also why the rhotic r disappears and reappears sometimes.

They may not actually be pronouncing it wrong, they are just using dialect rules that are different from yours.

I couldn't ever figure it out, but I always thought when my family said "Aunt Annamae" they were surely saying it wrong somehow because I didn't think Annamae was a real name.
posted by gjc at 10:39 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mayor West, don't forget that you have to hold your breath going through a tunnel in your car.

My non-Cameroon grandparents told me this, and I didn't entirely shake the habit of holding my breath through tunnels until after I'd started driving myself through the damn things.

One of the ways I know I must have been a total fucking rube growing up in podunk semi-rural Louisiana is that I was extremely nervous about driving through our town's tunnel, when I learned to drive. I think I finally shook my vestigial anxiety about tunnels when I started driving around New York City and had to deal with the Holland and the Lincoln every once in a while. You cannot hold your breath -- even subconsciously -- for an hour while stuck in a traffic jam under the Hudson River.
posted by Sara C. at 10:54 AM on January 14, 2013


As a child, I happened to find one of my mom's "romance" novels and the cover had a woman lying back with the man kissing her navel. For the longest time I thought babies were made by the man spitting saliva into the belly button of a woman.

I also thought saliva was created by teeth, because I saw a dinosaur book whose T-Rex had drool dripping down all the teeth in that artist's rendition, and also because I had no other idea.

Regarding the "hold your breath" in tunnels, we used to play that game a lot as kids. That is, until someone had the bright idea of slowing down the car.
posted by CancerMan at 11:13 AM on January 14, 2013


Vomitorium.

(another lightbulb moment for mazola)
posted by mazola at 11:25 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was in college before I realized that Washington apples come from Washington the state, not Washington D.C..

(And by "realized" I mean "had a girlfriend yell at me 'where the hell would they find enough land, fuckhead?'".)
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:08 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid I thought that the word "semi", referring to those big 18 wheeler trucks, was an obscenity. I was SHOCKED when I heard my mom say it one day.
posted by dabug at 12:48 PM on January 14, 2013


ob1quixote: "I guess I should have specified that he would go on and on about the "Treaty of Ver-say-lees." Also, the definition next to the little pronunciation icon references "a palace built for Louis XIV." Still, point taken."

Also North Versailles (ver-SAILS), PA. Pennsylvania has a number of French mispronunciations-Dauphin (DAW-fin) County and DuBois (DOO-boyz).
posted by Chrysostom at 1:05 PM on January 14, 2013


picked up words by reading them rather than hearing them

Oh man, I have so many like that. To this day, "misogyny" still fucks with me, since I always assumed, reading it, that it was a hard G. After all, "gynecologist" has a hard G, yes? It only makes sense. But no, it is a soft G. Pah.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:10 PM on January 14, 2013


On long boring drives, my uncle would make me hit the big red triangle button on the car's dashboard to activate warp speed. Then he'd really gun it.
It was an embarrassingly long time before I learned about hazard lights. I never felt such power since.
posted by Freyja at 2:00 PM on January 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


I was around ten when I read A Wind in the Door, the sequel to A Wrinkle in Time. During the book, Meg travels into her brother's mitochondria to help save him from invaders. I thought nothing of this until high school biology class, where my mind was utterly blown to realize that mitochondria was actually real, as opposed to made up by Madeleine L'Engle.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 2:08 PM on January 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


So, in Louisiana, it very rarely freezes. People don't know how to deal with snow or ice on roads or any cold-related driving conditions. Most bridges have a sign that says "BRIDGE MAY ICE IN COLD WEATHER", as a warning. I don't know what committee came up with that phrasing, or whether signs were cheaper by the letter in the 80's, or what, but it took me until drivers' ed in high school to realize that the sign meant that the surface of the bridge could ice over in certain conditions that local drivers might not expect.

In North Carolina, the signs say 'bridge ices before road.' This of course means 'the bridge becomes icy, and then the road becomes icy, because that's how bridges work because of air circulation' but I thought it meant 'the few feet of bridge directly before the road will sometimes randomly become icy for no reason at all'.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:44 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I was in my late 20s, my boyfriend finally explained to me what tire rotation is. I had never understood why I was paying to have them rotated when they rotated all the time anyway.

Also, I did not realize until I was about 12 that my parents were pushing the lever to make the turn signal go on, and not just turning in the direction that the car told them to.

Cars.
posted by picopebbles at 3:27 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also North Versailles (ver-SAILS), PA. Pennsylvania has a number of French mispronunciations-Dauphin (DAW-fin) County and DuBois (DOO-boyz).

See also: Theydon Bois ("boyz") Tube station on the outskirts of London.
posted by acb at 3:33 PM on January 14, 2013


HotToddy: "I am in my mid-40s. About five or so years ago I had a sudden epiphany: Our dog, that my mom said had gone to live on a farm? Didn't really go to live on a farm! I called my mom, expecting that I'd tell her, she'd cop to her lie, and we'd have a good laugh together. But she insisted that our dog really did go to live on a farm. "Ha ha, Mom, no, I get it, it's okay!" "No, really, it was a nice elderly couple with acres and acres for him to run around." Back and forth like this. She never would admit it. So either my mom is really, really committed to her lie, or I'm the only kid in the history of ever whose dog really did go to live on a farm."

Are you my brother? Because my mother insists the EXACT SAME THING.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 3:43 PM on January 14, 2013


"I led the pigeons to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands..."
posted by waterisfinite at 4:24 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


my mind was utterly blown to realize that mitochondria was actually real

But there were no farandolae!!! I was so excited when I heard that mitochondria were real, I couldn't wait to learn next about the farandolae dancing inside them. Major disappointment. Biology class was such a rollercoaster of emotion.
posted by vytae at 4:29 PM on January 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Navelgazer: "It wasn't until I had a baby that I realised the belly button wasn't made by the doctor tying a knot in the umbilical cord. I'd always assumed outies were the botched ones.

I don't know if it's eponysterical or not that I believed this until reading this comment.
"

I am not a stupid woman (really), but after my first child was born, I was nigh on hysterical that the doctor did NOT actually tie a knot in my daughter's umbilical stump. What did they mean, they just CLAMPED it and then took the clamp OFF before we went home? It was going to come undone! Now, I was sort of high on the painkillers they gave me before they stitched me up, as well as exhausted from a difficult, no-meds labor, but still. Several medical people had to tell me that this was, in fact, how it is done, and everything would be OK.

Reader, I was 32.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 5:59 PM on January 14, 2013


my mind was utterly blown to realize that mitochondria was actually real

But there were no farandolae!!! I was so excited when I heard that mitochondria were real, I couldn't wait to learn next about the farandolae dancing inside them. Major disappointment. Biology class was such a rollercoaster of emotion.


Yes!! I was so confused the first time I heard the word "tesseract" in another context. *runs off to reserve "A Wrinkle in Time" at the library*
posted by skycrashesdown at 6:08 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


...after my first child was born, I was nigh on hysterical that the doctor did NOT actually tie a knot in my daughter's umbilical stump. What did they mean, they just CLAMPED it and then took the clamp OFF before we went home?

I would be similarly concerned. Thank God she didn't fly around the room and deflate like a balloon!
posted by XMLicious at 7:07 PM on January 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


I did the hold your breath thing when going over bridges - only I had to close my eyes as well. Thank goodness I got over that before I started driving. : )
posted by SisterHavana at 8:36 PM on January 14, 2013


Are you my brother? Because my mother insists the EXACT SAME THING.

Well I'm definitely not your brother, but I suppose I could be your sister--if Mom lied about that, too.
posted by HotToddy at 9:12 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ohhhh! Tire PLACEMENT rotation!
posted by davidjmcgee at 10:32 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought Portugal was next to Brazil for an embarrassingly long time. I only realized it wasn't when my grandfather mentioned driving (from Belgium) to Portugal for vacation.
I also thought ajar meant wide open until maybe a year ago.
posted by Karmeliet at 2:47 AM on January 15, 2013


Our cat went to live on a farm, and there he was run over by a train because he loved sun-bathing on the rails. Really sad. But he did og to live there
Also this thread is great fun
posted by mumimor at 3:22 AM on January 15, 2013


Though she might kill me for telling the story, my SO heard the popular nationalistic US song as: "My country is a V, sweet land of Victory, a "v" I see..." Her interpretation was that we were all about Victory, so metaphorically, you would refer to the US as a "V". Oh kids. . . .
posted by gorbichov at 5:53 AM on January 15, 2013


Oh also when I was a kid my idea of circumcision was literally cutting the head of the penis off.

My husband is from a part of the world that doesn't routinely circumcise. When I was writing out our "birth plan" for our son, I thought it best to double check that we were on the same page w/r/t not circumcising him.

"Why would I want that?!"
"I didn't think you would, just checking."
"I am counting his balls before we leave the hospital!"
"Uh, sweetie, that's not what circumcision is. That's castration."
posted by sonika at 6:20 AM on January 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Rhode Island: Not an island

Fortunately these "hit me" while I was still a child.


I lived in RI and we were expecting some kind of storm. My dad called from Indiana very concerned wondering if we'd be ok if the bridges went out. I had to break it to him that the state was not an island. He was 57.
posted by sonika at 6:42 AM on January 15, 2013


My husband is from a part of the world that doesn't routinely circumcise.

Which brings me to the other misconception: that I was not circumcised.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:08 AM on January 15, 2013


I generally had a good grasp of geography but for some reason it got stuck in my mind that the Philippines were some of those islands down in the Caribbean somewhere. Definitely one of those "Wait. What?" realization moments. Apparently I should have read up on pineapples while I was at it.
posted by mikepop at 7:49 AM on January 15, 2013


I spent the first five years of my life in Japan. My grandmother would sometimes put a couple of hours of American cartoons on a BetaMax cassette and mail it over, so that my elder brother and I could be kept in He-Man.

On the airplane heading toward the US, I told my brother that the first thing I was going to do in out new house in America was put in a tape and watch American cartoons. He spent a while trying to convince me that in America you didn't need a tape, American cartoons were just on the TV. Of course, there was no way that was true, so I told my mom that my brother was teasing me and I wanted him to stop.
posted by davidjmcgee at 11:42 AM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Growing up, we always just looked at the clock on New Year's Eve, so when people talked about the ball dropping, I imagined for some reason a German bomber flying low above a dark field and dropping a magic 8-ball the size of a garage at midnight. I was both disappointed and relieved when we finally watched the the real thing on television.



My school's history textbooks were more than a decade out of date, and perhaps more to the point, our teachers never moved past WWII, so I didn't know until I got to college that Yugoslavia no longer exists. Same for Czechoslovakia.


I learned from this thread that "banal" doesn't rhyme with "anal."



I hadn't seen Les Mis until about a week ago, but I went to an arts school and thus had a nodding acquaintanceship with some of the songs. I always heard "There was no ransom to be paid" from I Dreamed A Dream as, "There was no handsome Willie Mays," which I somehow rationalized as having to do with the other baseball reference in the song ("But the Tigers come at night...") I guess I figured that since Ragtime has a completely gratuitous song about baseball, so might Les Mis? I was unpleasantly surprised when I saw the film that it had nothing to do with baseball and was, in fact, devastating.
posted by coppermoss at 12:29 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm really unreasonably enjoying the idea of someone sitting down to Le Mis and going " But when are they going to get to the baseball?"
posted by The Whelk at 12:46 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


In Dutch, the word for 'Saviour' is 'Heiland', a word that is never used outside a religious context and that I wasn't familiar with as a young child. The word for 'elk' (or possibly 'moose') is 'eland', a word that I did know. As a result, whenever Jesus was mentioned I'd get a mental picture of a large brown animal with antlers running through a forest.
posted by rjs at 12:53 PM on January 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Now bring me prisoner 24601. Your time is up and your parole's begun. You know what that means."
"Yes. It means I'm pinch-running."
posted by davidjmcgee at 1:12 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


> As a result, whenever Jesus was mentioned I'd get a mental picture of a large brown animal with antlers running through a forest.

Elk Jesus died on the cross for your sins (of lust for electricity).
posted by benito.strauss at 1:38 PM on January 15, 2013


I dreamed a dream I hit a fly
It flew up high
And kept on going
I dreamed my run then broke a tie
I dreamed I wasn't bad at throwing.

Then I wake up full of dismay
My dreams are false and dim and ghoulish
There is no handsome Willie Mays
Nor Johnny Bench -- I feel so foolish.


But the Tigers come at night
In a whisper, they recruit me.
As I gnaw my Big League Chew
They say I'm their only hope.

I spend a summer at first base
I spend my days with glove and Slugger
I spend the winter keeping pace
The training's hard, and yet I cope.

Again I wake up with a sigh
At home in bed with cat and sweetie
But there are dreams that cannot die
So I'll go on eating my Wheaties.

I have a dream my life can be
So different from this desk job stupor
A job at bat for different teams --
Life cannot kill the dreams I dreamed.
posted by coppermoss at 1:46 PM on January 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


This is completely appropos of nothing, and I realize this makes me sound disconcertingly like George Will, but what is it about baseball that inspires poetry? I don't even like the game and yet I can damn near recite "Baseball's Sad Lexicon" from memory.
posted by JHarris at 2:24 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


You gotta do something while you're waiting for something to happen.
posted by cmoj at 2:59 PM on January 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I believed both grizzled and swarthy basically meant unkempt, until a history teacher disabused me. Fortunately, I'm not sure any of the other kids knew what they meant either.
posted by bystander at 3:00 AM on January 16, 2013


Java and javascript. Srsly, why screw with people's minds?
posted by Mom at 6:54 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Growing up, we always just looked at the clock on New Year's Eve, so when people talked about the ball dropping, I imagined for some reason a German bomber flying low above a dark field and dropping a magic 8-ball the size of a garage at midnight.

I'll be right back. I gotta look up my City Council's email address.
posted by Etrigan at 7:14 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I was young there was an antenna on top of the hill near my elemtentary school, and there were always buzzards circling it. Maybe they had roosted up there? Anyway, the antenna had a sign that I thought for the longest time warned about the birds: DANGER! HIGH VULTURES!
posted by yeti at 9:38 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sweetbread.
posted by cacofonie at 11:58 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I still don't believe sweetbread is what it is. In fact calling it "sweetbread" and then telling me what it is actually sounds like the exact kind of prank my grandfather would have done to a young me.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:24 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Summer was over. My four year old son and I went to his day-care facility after his three-month hiatus, and were met by his friendly lady provider:

"Oh my, Nicholas, you've grown another foot," she says.

Nicholas' brow wrinkles. He looks down to the ends of his legs, counting.
posted by mule98J at 3:21 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just realized that "podcast" rhymes with "broadcast."

!
posted by theredpen at 7:35 AM on January 19, 2013


I just realized that "podcast" rhymes with "broadcast."

I have to ask: Did you pronounce them so they didn't, or had you just not linked up the two words?
posted by Etrigan at 9:23 AM on January 19, 2013


That is an interesting question. I do pronounce them so that they rhyme -- I just hadn't thought of the two terms together. But when I asked my husband if he'd ever noticed the link between the two, he insisted that they don't rhyme (in his very upstate NY accent, they don't, really) -- he says sort of "padcast" and "broadcast." But to me they rhyme perfectly! So I'm just slow. Do they rhyme for you, Etrigan?
posted by theredpen at 10:07 AM on January 19, 2013


redpen, I have your husband's accent and those words do NOT rhyme. That a/o thing is one of the most distinctive things about our accent!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:26 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


They don't quite rhyme to me, but the vowels end up being very definitely related, which might be because I always figured one comes from t'other.
posted by Etrigan at 1:28 PM on January 19, 2013


Up until I was around 13 or 14, I seriously thought that atheism was the norm and that nearly everyone in the world was an atheist. I guess because most of my religious background was from books on World Mythology (that put Christianity side by side with Ancient Norse mythology and Greek myths), I just sort of assumed that all religions had died out in modern times. When people said they were this or that religion ("I'm a Catholic"), I basically thought that they only meant it metaphorically, like that was their ancestry.
posted by adso at 12:53 AM on January 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Related: BBC News - "Most parents 'lie to their children'"
posted by Gordafarin at 2:53 AM on January 23, 2013


This thread made my husband and go on a frenzied search for good coffee cake in our area. And NOT Entenmann's, no way no how. It took us a damned WEEK to find the kind we really like -- crumby streusel, cinnamony, no fruit. We hit coffee shops and bakeries and grocery stores, before a friend finally found us the perfect coffee cake at a gourmet market. We made do with Dunkin' Donut's coffee cake muffin until then --- which was surprisingly adequate. LORD, what is the world coming to, when you can't just dance into a coffee shop and get coffee CAKE.

It's a shame we have a dollhouse kitchen, and can't bake worth a crap in there.
posted by Coatlicue at 7:04 PM on January 26, 2013


Coatlicue, if you ever move and have a kitchen you can bake in, let me know and I will send you the world's best coffee cake recipe. It's slightly involved but not difficult and the results are amazing!
posted by theredpen at 6:33 AM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


-Speaking of pregnancy, I understood that egg + sperm = baby, but thought that conception happened when, after a man and woman had been living together long enough, the sperm cells would float, invisible, through the air into the woman's vagina.

I spent a year thinking that an exchange of underwear was the means of transmission - dad would wear mom's underwear for a day and....spooge it up, then give mom her panties back. I'm still amused that when I was only seven, I thought up something that was kinkier than actual sex.

Also: when I was six, one of my favorite jokes was, "what has four wheels and flies? ..A garbage truck!" However, it wasn't until I was twelve that I actually got it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:49 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some other kid told me this joke when I was eleven and I didn't get it until about fifteen years later. (Albeit because I hadn't thought of it in the intervening time, though, not because I didn't learn what "cum" meant until I was 26.)
posted by XMLicious at 12:35 PM on January 28, 2013


Also: when I was six, one of my favorite jokes was, "what has four wheels and flies? ..A garbage truck!" However, it wasn't until I was twelve that I actually got it.

I was in college, working in my biology lab on a Drosophila melanogaster, when I suddenly started laughing uncontrollably. Like, I'd just been hit with a lethal dose of Joker gas, laughing so hard. I had to leave the lab and get a coffee at the student union down the block before I could stop laughing, and I don't even drink coffee.

"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana" suddenly made sense.
posted by Etrigan at 12:38 PM on January 28, 2013 [15 favorites]


when I suddenly started laughing uncontrollably.

That still happens to me when I think of that line.
posted by bongo_x at 1:40 PM on January 28, 2013


From my spouse:
"For the longest time I was sure that those little prairie-dog type animals were actually called 'meekrats.' Because it made a lot more sense to me that they were a type of rat than a 'kat.' And of course they could be meek, they're little prey animals."
posted by Etrigan at 12:59 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just remembered one - I think it had been explained to me when I was really little that when I was five years old I would start going to Kindergarten, and then when I was six years old I'd be in first grade, and then second grade when I was seven, etc. Except, my birthday comes in February, during the school year.

So in Kindergarten, in the week leading up to my sixth birthday, I was a little uneasy that we'd have the big birthday party in class for me the way that we did for other kids; but then after we'd all had cupcakes and sung happy birthday to me and whatever, my teacher Mrs. Gove would then lead me to the door of the class room and unceremoniously kick me out into the hallway, and I'd have to find my way to the first grade classroom all by myself and convince them to let me in.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:15 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh! Another one. I grew up in North Carolina, where history education in the elementary schools is super, super focused on the Revolutionary War, because we lived so close to so many battlefields and other historical sites. We talked SO MUCH about the King and the colonies and all that stuff, that until I was in my teens, I thought that England and the US were still enemies. I even thought that the US and Germany were on the same side during WWII, because I knew for a fact that the US and England could not be allies.

Similarly, I was under the impression that all of the world's alliances and enemies had frozen some time around WWII, and so presumably the Germans still were against us and therefore helping the Saddam Hussein (First Gulf War - I maintain that this was reasonably sophisticated geopolitical thinking for a 6-year-old).

This pineapple thing has really shaken my foundations.
posted by naoko at 11:08 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


We talked SO MUCH about the King and the colonies and all that stuff, that until I was in my teens, I thought that England and the US were still enemies.

I actually thought that myself until I was about eight. Then Dad and I were watching Family Feud and the question was "name an enemy of the United States", and I answered "England, right?", and he set me straight.

....Then he guessed "Vietnam," and went on to tell me about the Vietnam War and basically told me I was what saved him from getting drafted, but that's another story.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:23 AM on February 1, 2013


"It is as if you are saying that British people refuse to accept that cilantro exists because they call it coriander. No, they just call it coriander."

This, from another thread, just blew my mind. I guess it's not something I really 'thought about' in my youth but it is certainly something I didn't know.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:35 PM on February 1, 2013


This one isn't about me, but I'm acquainted with the people involved. The story is true, but the names have been changed to protect the guilty. I wish I could do it justice, but no one could tell it better than the man who originated it.

A father tells his kindergarten-aged son Sam a jokey fable about the founding of their town, Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
Perth Amboy was founded when James Drummond, Earl of Perth, crossed the Atlantic, came to the confluence of the Raritan River and the Arthur Kill, and decided it would be a good place to have a town. As he came down the gangplank of the boat in his Scottish finery, including a kilt, the native Lenape people asked him, "Perth am girl?" He said, "No. Perth am boy!" Then he lifted his kilt to prove it. And that's how the town got it's name.
Being a credulous youth Sam believes the story to be true. A few years later, Sam is in school when the teacher asks if anyone knows how Perth Amboy got its name. Sam's hand shoots up and he says, "I know! I know!" He then proceeds to tell the story just as his father told it to him. Proud of himself for knowing the right answer he sits back down.

At which point the classroom erupts in gales of laughter. The teacher is not amused and sends Sam to the principal's office. His mother and father are also summoned to the office for a conference.

At this meeting the principal asks Sam to repeat what he said to the class. Still not quite understanding what he did wrong he proudly tells the same story. Horrified, his mother asks, "Sam! Where did you hear such a story?"

"I heard it from Dad."

History does not record how long Sam's father had to sleep on the couch.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:56 PM on February 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I finally found one of mine, thanks to boss who had a good time making fun of me.
It's not deb' acle, it's de bac' le.
posted by hexatron at 7:47 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the longest time I thought it was elóquent.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:03 PM on February 5, 2013


At this meeting the principal asks Sam to repeat what he said to the class. Still not quite understanding what he did wrong he proudly tells the same story. Horrified, his mother asks, "Sam! Where did you hear such a story?"

"I heard it from Dad."


There's a similar story Tom Waits told, on a David Letterman show -

"You know, the other day, I overheard my older kids talking to my younger boy. And they were saying: 'Don't ever... ask dad to help you with your homework!' They said I made up a war once."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:05 AM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


This week's This American Life collects some more of these stories.
posted by likeatoaster at 8:01 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


« Older Commander Chris Hadfield (previously!) and Thomas ...  |  That Night In Williamsburg is ... Newer »


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