Swell foops 

There are some summertime myths that need dispelling, and I've been nominated. I've lived a long time so I know the score on most of these.

First, an acquaintance's inquiry. True or false: It's a felony to try to pole-vault over a doublewide in the middle of the night when you're drunk as a skunk and naked as a jaybird.

Answer: Depends on (a) whether it's your doublewide, and (b) how successful the vault is. If it's your trailer, and you make it over relatively unscathed, and don't then commence a lot of loud yelling and hullabaloo (unlikely), the judge might go easy as with Matt Jones or Tom Coughlin.

But if it's not yours, and you launch yourself into the side of it (good chance), or crash down through the roof (better chance)), and someone inside is injured by the falling mass, or mess, or suffers traumatic indecent exposure to that much uncloaked and inebriated midnight wildlife, then you could be in a heap of trouble, yes.

Now, on to exploding some of those other seasonal myths.

Myth: Vacation Bible School was invented to get out-of-school youngsters out of the house long enough for their elders to pursue brief summertime adult domestic pastimes, if you know what I mean, Vern. Certainly plausible, but definitely a myth. Honestly pious people invented Vacation Bible School, and the youngsters went along after language was inserted making copious refreshments mandatory.

 Myth: you can successfully clear the horseflies from a patio or picnic area by shooting them one by one with a .22 rifle or pistol. Also a myth, and a foolish one. It just doesn't work. I've tried it. Alienated some good people, too 

The big problem is, you don't want to pull a Cheney. Horseflies aren't unintelligent, and at the first whiff or glint of gunmetal, they'll take up a post on your favorite loved one's forehead, or right between his or her eyes, and then maneuver nimbly along that sightline indefinitely. You can't outsmart them in this respect. They're simply farther up the evolutionary ladder than human beings are. Nervier too. And more patient.

Myth: 99 fouls and you're out. Truth: nobody knows what the legal foul limit is. The legislature is proposing a constitutional amendment to add a right to play ball to the right to hunt and fish, and it contains a provision specifying a discrete number of permissible fouls per bat, but this measure will require voter approval.

Myth: snakes can't bite underwater, so swimming-hole aficionados needn't be concerned. Reality: so who wants to be the researcher who verifies this one?

Myth: If you swallow watermelon seeds, they can sprout and grow up through your innards and emerge from various orifices to leaf and flower. Comment: Could affect your dating prospects if it happens, but it probably won't.

Myth: you should let sleeping dogs lie. You wouldn't let your napping child or your napping spouse engage in bald-face prevarication, so why let a bunch of gnatty-petered old dogs do it?  

Myth: you risk going to hell if you're baptized in a crick that's stagnant or soured, overpopulated with beavers, full of mystery sludge, waste, offal, detritus. Has to be clean, moving water for the baptism to “take,” in other words. This makes sense from the modern sanitation standpoint, but it's theologically ungirt. The Bible wants you born again, but expresses no preference for the babbling brook over the buffalo wallow. The hymnal wants you dunked in a blood fountain in what sounds like a visit to an abattoir.

Myth: You can cause a beehive to self-destruct if you put a dyslectic worker bee in the hive. This canard derives from scientific observations of scout bees doing a kind of dance — much like the old-time Chubby Checker twist — to communicate to their colleagues directions and distance to nectar–rich foliage in range. Obviously a dyslectic bee would impart bad information — and lost and tragic bee foraging parties might result. But dyslexia doesn't affect bees.   There are psychotic bees. There are substance-abuser bees who could use interventions if bee societies had them. There are Oedipal, autistic, bipolar, and insomniac bees. Some Africanized bees are said to be triskaidekaphobic. But dyslectic bees, no.

Myth: catfish slime is an effective treatment for fishhook wounds. A remedy from my father's down-home pharmacopeia. I imagine he just made it up. The stuff has no antiseptic or pain-relieving properties; it isn't a psychological unguent; and it stinks. But he applied it with confidence and even a show of enthusiasm, and to his own wounds as well as to those of his melodramatic offspring. I say melodramatic but a fishhook in the finger hurts like a son-of-a-bitch now. One that delobes your ear by way of negligent baitcasting is tough, too.

Myth: large birds of prey can swoop down and make off with small pets and untended infinks playing on pallets outdoors. It was Popeye who called them infinks, a nice coinage. But the last bird hereabout large enough to make off with one of them was a pterodactyl or pterosaur, with a 40-foot wingspan and twice the passenger capacity of a Little Rock trolley. That rascal could've made off with the entire Duggar clan in one swell foop. But that was 100 million years ago, give or take.



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