I once thought I could grow monkey people. The comic book ad promised underwater critters with a bald father, mother and two kid monkeys with gills on their chests and smiles on their faces. The mother monkey wore lipstick and a matching red bow in her hair.
“So eager to please,” the ad read. “They can even be trained.”
I wanted to grow these people-like beings in a bowl in my room like the family in the inset. My heart longed for those ‘instant pets’ to live on top of my dresser drawers.
So I scraped up my allowance and mailed away for the “monkeys” for 1.25 plus shipping.
When the brine shrimp arrived in the mail, I was still excited. I knew it must only be a matter of time until they transformed. If I strain my memories, I can see and hear my parents in the background shaking their heads and telling me: “Brine shrimp!” But their voices are faint. My belief was strong.
And so I waited. I waited and stared at the bowl, knowing the shrimp would shape up into sea monkeys that looked like the ad.
The shrimp eventually died, and then I remember feeling that I must have done something wrong because surely – surely — an ad wouldn’t lie about a product. In the end, I blamed myself. Heck, even now I’m just starting to believe they lied. The lie was so good and so wonderful it was much more pleasant to believe it than to see through it.
Here is what a brine shrimp looks like. I know I would not have spent my $1.25 plus shipping on the ‘monkeys’ had I known they looked like the horrific beings that wrestled with Sigourney Weaver in Aliens.“Kid Logic” , one of my favorite shows on This American Life, describes children’s hilarious mistaken beliefs from childhood. Most of them did not involve a deliberate deception from an ad company. If you’ve got a few minutes while painting a bedroom (as I did this past week), take a listen. I promise you’ll laugh at the lady who thought her friend’s dad moonlighted as the tooth fairy.
And if you have another moment while sitting at the keyboard, I’d also love to know what logical-at-the-time thing gave you wrong ideas when you were young.