Old wives’ tales from an old wife

Published 9:15 am Thursday, August 1, 2019

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No matter your age, you’ve likely been subjected to some older woman pointing a finger in the direction of your face and telling you scary consequences for your behavior.
If you happen to be a female of a certain age, you may even be the one subjecting children and grandchildren in your life to these tales and perpetuating their continuation for generations to come.
I am a woman of a certain age and I admit I have a repertoire of old wives’ tales I have called upon when raising my children. I find the older I get, the more they pepper my conversations.
It’s almost as though I have a compulsion to impart as much wisdom as possible in my golden years.
I’ve selected a few of these gems for your edification. I’ll even tell you the truth about some of these tales, but I must ask that you not give away our secrets to the younger generation. Intimidation is power.
Spilling salt is bad luck unless you toss a pinch over your left shoulder. The thinking here is the devil stands behind you on your left and salt in his eyes will blind him. I’m not going to repute this tale, because I’m certain the devil has stood on my shoulder on many occasions.
If you pull a grey hair out of your head, two more will take its place. The truth is, pulling one strand of hair won’t affect neighboring follicles, but again, I’m living proof something causes the silver strands do multiply.
Sitting too close to the TV will hurt your eyes. This was true in the ’60s when radiation emission was 100,000 times stronger than today.
Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis. Doctors have found no evidence cracking any of your joints causes arthritis, but I’d like to go on record as saying it’s very annoying.
Find a penny pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck. Further, some say pick a coin up only if it’s face up. Tails side up is bad luck. It was believed metal was a gift from the gods and the gods threw them down as a blessing. I’ve also heard loved ones who have passed toss them down to get your attention and to tell you that they’re thinking of you and watching over you. This is a sweet sentiment and every coin you retrieve will make you that much richer.
Don’t cross your eyes or roll them back in your head or they’ll get stuck. What’s more frustrating than trying to impart wisdom to your child and have them roll their eyes? So, you tell them to stop or they’ll go around bumping into walls for all eternity. I have used this saying many, many times but the truth is, both crossing and rolling one’s eyes are exercises just as flexing your biceps.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Well, certainly apples are good for you, but would likely only help you avoid a doctor’s visit if you’re constipated.
There are hundreds more old wives’ tales I could share with you, but its best to learn them from your family members. Listen to them. Judge for yourself those that are applicable to you and in which you can believe and those you choose to dismiss as folderol.
But beware, as you grow in age and experience you may find that to which you said “balderdash” may, in fact, have been pearls of wisdom.

Anne Carmichael is a lifestyle columnist who contributes often to the Jessamine Journal and Jessamine Life magazine.

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