I was the most gullible child. It makes sense, I was an innocent, trusting child who assumed everyone knew a lot more about the world at large than I did. Fantasy was my domain. I’d watch cartoon and play video games. I’d dream of what I wished existence to be, but neglect the reality of what it was. Frankly, childhood was stimulation overload. Everything was so big, bright and new. Cynicism wasn’t a word in my vocabulary until at least age 10 and it would’ve been at least another year or two before I actively exhibited signs of it. I believed most things that people would tell me. I took things at face value because what was the alternative? Accepting that others would deliberately mislead or deceive me? What kind of life would that be?
I believed in ghosts, aliens and monsters for long enough, not least because of some intentional self-fulfilling prophecy. If my conviction was strong enough, maybe this stuff would flicker to life. Awesome, right? I still never got on the Santa Claus sleigh, perhaps because of the whole Judaism thing. Religion didn’t make sense to me as a kid, considering a bunch of my friends followed different theologies. The idea that they were all wrong but our family was right seemed strange. The notion that one religion being true invalidated the others smelled a bit fishy to me. See, I was never an idiot, just trusting. Still, all of this talk belies the dumbest thing I ever believed.
Firstly you need to understand the kind of people I had around me. I had big brothers feeding me bollocks time and time again. A bunch of my friends were older and had a bit more nouse knocking around in their noggins. A gullible kid is the most fun to tease or joke with, because it extends the value and life of the joke. My best friend, in particular, has always been quick witted. He’s a joker by nature and improvisational by trade. He’d lead and I’d willingly follow. For years I followed in his shadow, with time eventually being an equaliser. We’ve gone on to live different lives, but time and space has been no barrier to that rapport. It’s not something we need to upkeep, because it’s only ever a Skype away. Anyway, you get the point. Best buds fo lyfe, yo. So naturally as a kid when he told me something, I’d listen and believe. The dumbest thing he told me?
You know that “Egyptian walk”? The one I assume The Bangles sung about? Arms at right angles, one pointing in front, the other behind. This one. He told me that everyone in Egypt walked that way. Not only did they walk that way, but walking that way was mandated by law. It was illegal to walk as most do, arms by sides or in pockets. Who was I to judge? I’d never been to Egypt. I’d never met anyone from Egypt. I hadn’t read books on Egypt.
As soon as he told me, I accepted and absorbed it. I don’t know why I didn’t think to ask an adult or teacher. I have some shady recollection of bringing it up in the middle of class, stating it matter of factly. I’m sure the teacher’s response was vaguely along the lines of “that’s simply not true”. I’m sure teasing followed. Whatever, I was a kid, that kind of thing rolled off my back. You know what? I still haven’t been to Egypt. I can neither confirm nor deny.
Though I think I just got an idea for my Autumn vacation.