Feb 24, 2011

I'm Fat Because You Can't Put Your Hands Around My Waist (and other things I learned from Little House on the Prairie)

You know what myth I'd like the Mythbusters crew to tackle this season? That reading in the dark causes nearsightedness. Though that would be the most boring episode. Picture it: a time elapsed video of nerds with flashlights reading under the covers, reading in the back of a dimly-lit minivan, reading under the bleachers during lunch-hour at school...(you see where I'm going here). THEN: a time-elapsed video of other non-nerds running and playing, doing whatever it is that kids who hate reading do. AND FINALLY: (some years later) the vision testing segment. My money is on the nerds all needing glasses. In university I would conduct informal surveys in my head whereby I would count the number of people in any given room and then calculate what percentage who were wearing glasses. Example: Romantic Poetry class — almost everyone is wearing glasses. Meanwhile, Wednesday Wing Night at Maude Hunters — NO ONE IS WEARING GLASSES. My conclusion: nerds wear glasses, probably because we read too much as kids.

I read a tonne (yes, metric) as a kid. And what do I have to show for it except a cool pair of glasses? Yes, like all the other nerds: an English degree.

However, I remember so little of the books I read, it's shocking. Let me clarify: it's not shocking how little I can remember; it's the things I remember that are shocking.

Who didn't love reading Little House on the Prairie? I know I did. At the time I didn't wonder how old Ma had to be when she married Pa. But now I do. Because one of the only things I remember from that book is the fact that when they were married, Ma’s waist was so tiny that Pa could span it with his strapping hands. Think about THAT for a minute: Her waist fit in his hands. Make an "O" with your hands together and look at the space in the middle. Picture a late 19th-century lady in there. A tiny, little kitten-sized 19th-century lady. Because a kitten is about all I could span with my hands. I have long fingers and I can’t even wrap my hands around my two-year-old’s belly (however, she is shaped a little like little George Costanza — like all two-year-olds).

So thanks, Laura Ingalls Wilder, for making my tween self feel fat for not having the dimensions of a kitty cat. 

Some of my other fave books as a kid and the useful things I remember:

• Harriet the Spy — If you write shit about your friends, they WILL find it. (So be nice on your blog.)

• Anne of Green Gables — This one really is useful: croup symptoms can be allieviated with steam and syrup of ipecac. Also: in the olden days crying together was like playing Wii. Girls did it together all the time.

• Little Women — falling thru the ice is a great way to garner enough sympathy to be forgiven for anything. Also: if you’re writing a novel, back it up, dummy!

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