I’m the youngest of four daughters. My sisters are 8, 12, and 14 years older than I am. When your sisters are that much older, you tend to view them as alternate parents who can boss you but can’t spank you. The best they could do if I misbehaved was tell me to sit in a chair, and even then I knew they couldn’t make me sit there. I usually got up and started wreaking havoc again.
Yes, I was a brat.
Anyway, one day my two oldest sisters were drinking Mountain Dew at the kitchen table. I decided that I also wanted some Mountain Dew. I was given a glass of my own, but I immediately noticed a problem.
The liquid was sweet and bubbly, but it was clear. I was only four, but I knew that Mountain Dew is yellow. When I protested my oldest sister said that Mountain Dew turned clear if you poured it into a glass with pictures on it.
Now, I’ve already confessed that I really didn’t obey my sisters that well, but their word still held weight. At this point the two oldest could drive a car, read, and reach things on high shelves. They knew a lot of stuff that I, at age four, did not. I was busy puzzling over mysteries like why both women on the Tony Orlando Show were named Dawn. If they said Mountain Dew turned clear in certain containers, who was I to question? Life was confusing enough without taking on a burden like that.
So I believed it. For a long, long time. In fact, it wasn’t until years later when I spouted off this obscure fact about Mountain Dew one day IN THE SCHOOL CAFETERIA that I realized I’d been had.
I’m pleased to state that my friends in the cafeteria assumed I was trying to play a trick on them and never for a moment thought that I believed something so ridiculous. As I silently stewed in my private embarrassment, the rest of the story became obvious. My sisters thought I was bratty enough without caffeine, they certainly didn’t want to deal with me after caffeine. So, they gave me Sprite, told me it was really Mountain Dew, and snickered to themselves that I was gullible enough to believe them.
(And can we reflect on the irony that the sister who so happily led me astray is now a minister’s wife? Just as it’s ironic that the cousin who convinced me that playing around on my dad’s two-way radio would be fun is now an airline pilot.)
(Not that I’m bitter or anything.)
Most youngest children have a story like this. We all survive. I think it speaks well of my sisters that this is the worst thing I can remember that they ever did to me.
I may be the only person alive who believed that Mountain Dew could turn clear, but all of us — even those who aren’t the youngest — hold beliefs that are false. And often, it’s not until our beliefs are tested (or uttered out loud in the school cafeteria), that the cracks show.
So what’s the moral here? I guess I could remind you that people who look up to you watch your every move, and you’re influencing them. Or I could tell you to test what you’re told against the truth before you accept it as fact.
Or I could just remind you to be nice to your little sister, because she might grow up and get a blog someday.
Your turn: Am I alone in this? Did you ever believe something silly way longer than you should have? Or did you ever lead a younger sibling astray?