I was walking down Orchard Street the other day, thinking about all the myths my mother told me as a kid, when I met a young man named Newton who had apple trees growing out of his head.
To describe him is a bit of a challenge. He was tall and slender, clean shaven, and his fruit was neat and recently sprayed. I couldn’t tell his age, but based on his bark lesions I’d guess early twenties.
He said he had swallowed apple seeds as a kid, and these nicely-pruned, fruit-laden trees were the result.
So it WAS true I thought! You shouldn’t swallow the seeds after all. Huh.
He told me he had cherry trees growing out of his ears at one point, and like most rebellious teens he had let his branches grow long and, well, got into some trouble, hanging around places he shouldn’t have been. Power lines mainly.
Before I could get around to asking him the pruning and fertilizing questions that sprang to mind, I realized that he was a Myth Kid!!
Myth Kids are extremely rare – so rare in fact that they themselves are considered mythical. They are people who got warned by their mothers of all sorts of terrible things that could happen to them, and then the terrible things actually happened!
He was living proof!
As we strolled in his shade, I asked about his crossed eyes.
“Froze that way – just like Mom said they would,” he explained. “I used to sit really close to the TV all the time and I used to practice going cross-eyed in school. I’ve only got myself to blame really.”
I asked about other visible scars, assuming they were old hockey injuries perhaps.
“This one here is from when I was running around the house with sharp scissors. And this little one here is from not holding onto my Popsicle stick” he said.
A chill crept up my spine. I thought these were just old wives tales – nothing more.
I worried about my own kids. Had I threatened them enough with implausible accidental injury?
For that matter, had I washed my own ears that morning, or would potatoes start growing back there? I couldn’t remember, so I feigned scratching my head as I gently probed for sprouts.
As we walked I suggested to him that perhaps someone should write about his tragic life. He was about to answer when he yelled “Watch out!” but it was too late. I had stepped on a spider.
A sudden rainstorm began, the spider having been a Daddy Long Legs. Another myth confirmed.
I remembered some other admonitions Mom used to say.
“Ever step on a crack in the sidewalk?” I asked.
“Mom will be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Broken back. My fault.” His remorse was obvious.
“That’s terrible!” I said. “Weren’t medical staff able to do anything?”
“I had eaten an apple that day, which kept the Doctor away. I’ve never forgiven myself.”
“Ever swim right after a meal?”
“I almost drown from cramps every time. Now I don’t even shower for at least 30 minutes after each meal. Terrifying.” he said.
“What do you do for fun?”
“Not a lot. Mom says it’s all fun until someone puts an eye out. That happened to my cousin Twiggy, so I have to be careful.”
I noticed his disfigured hands and asked “Arthritis?”
“Knuckle cracking” he said.
By this time it was dark out so I said I had best be going. It had been an interesting conversation.
As we walked towards the corner he stumbled into a lamp post.
“Are you OK?” I asked, peering into the gloom.
“I guess. My night vision is no good. I didn’t eat carrots as a kid. And could you stop picking my apples please? It tickles.”
This is Mything Children Awareness Month. When a Myth Kid scratches at your door, please give generously.