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Shazaam!

July 19, 2023

Fun party ice breaker: ask the revelers the name of Oscar Wilde’s novel about a man whose mirror image ages, but he does not. Then ask if there are shades on the sun cartoon on the Raisin Bran box. For good measure, ask them to spell a popular shoe brand that rhymes with “fetchers.” Chances are, they will answer wrong (and so would I, had I not researched for this post). 

Answers:  

*It’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, NOT The Portrait of Dorian Gray

*The cartoon cereal box sun NEVER wore sunglasses

*The shoes are “skechers”, NOT “sketchers”

I could go on and on about the discrepancies between our collective memories, and the truth. Misremembering is a very common thing. Often, those events we think we recall from earliest childhood, can be chalked up to old photographs, or stories told by family members. To this day, I am not certain that, as a baby, I fell out of my crib onto a broken glass formula bottle. I clearly remember my dad picking glass out of my little back, and that my mom was not home—she was out doing some evening grocery shopping at Gristede’s Market. But did people really put their kids to bed with glass bottles, even back in 1957? Is it possible that I just sub-consciously wanted my father to be a loving and nurturing parent (neither of which he really was)?

But what’s most fascinating to me, is when a huge number of us misremember things the exact same way. Two prime examples: many, many people think African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela died in prison in the early 1980s (he actually passed away decades after his release, in 2013, after serving as South Africa’s president). On a lighter note, tons of folks swear there was a movie called Shazaam! starring comedian Sinbad playing a genie. In reality, they're probably thinking of the movie Kazam, starring basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal as—this part is true—a genie.

This tendency of ours to assume, and to internalize those assumptions, is only human. But it’s also a real problem. Lawyers could speak at length about the inconsistencies of “eyewitnesses” to car accidents, for example. And of course, now, in this post-truth world, it’s so hard to know whether all these false statements are being spouted knowingly, or from deeply held misunderstandings. Which is why I’d never actually USE the above-suggested party ice breaker; I’d be too afraid my guests would depart in self-righteous huffs, long before dinner was served.

Don’t know if there’s a solution, but the closest I can come is this: let’s try to be open to the possibility that we’re wrong. Being wrong is not the end of the world, but refusing to entertain the thought that we’re mistaken is the root of so much that IS wrong: broken relationships, bad legislation, close-minded notions of faith.

One thing I do know for sure, though. There IS a cornucopia on the Fruit of the Loom logo.

Or is there?

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    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: www.eliseseyfried.com or email me at eliseseyf@gmail.com.

     

     

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