When I was young, the mothers of America regularly banded together and told children some amazingly stupid stuff. It's true. Some of it was so stupid that I like to use it on my own kids just to see their reactions.
This summer, for instance, I finally got to use this one at the water park:
"Gabriel," I yelled, "You just ate lunch. That means you have to wait 30 minutes before you go back in the water."
"Why?" he yelled back.
"Because your body can't swim and digest at the same time. if you try it, all of your swimming muscles will cramp up and you'll drown."
I still remember the incredulous look on his six year-old face. I'll treasure it forever.
This winter, I'm hoping to try out the "If you go out in the cold with your hair wet, you'll get pneumonia and die" thing.
Did my mother - and all of the other moms in America - really believe that red M&Ms caused cancer or that sitting too close to the television caused blindness?
No, I say. When I look at ancient school photos of me and my brother dressed in identical sweater vests, I have to believe that the mothers of America were just cruelly toying with us. And they will not away with it.
The other day my mom was visiting and Gabriel said this to me:
"Nanny says that the waters around Bermuda have a giant electric triangle that sinks ships and planes. Is that true?"
"No, it's not true," I said, warily watching my mother in the next room.
"Why would she lie, Dad?"
I looked at his inquisitive face. He clearly hungered for the truth.
"Every person in the world," I said, "is comprised of four special fluids called humors. Nanny's humors are out of whack."
I look both ways before drawing him closer.
"It's because she watches too much "Matlock" on television."