There is weirdness in every culture, but sometimes I feel like I grew up in a whimsical parallel universe.
For instance, the other day in the shower, while suffering under that perfect combination of still half asleep and starting to try to plan the day, a “just so aphorism” from my childhood came through my mind, and it made me go “uh?”
So, when I was growing up (I don’t think any longer) it was taken as written that the humble orange had lethal superpowers.
The saying about the orange was “De manha e ouro, a tarde e prata, e a noite…. mata.” I.e. “In the morning it’s gold, in the afternoon it’s silver, and at night it kills.”
Now, it’s possible, the Portuguese being, in general, irredeemable poets that the rhyme was just too strong a temptation to resist. And I do get that mom thought having oranges in the afternoon gave you indigestion (What part of this was insanity and suggestion only Himself knows, and even He might be quirking an eyebrow, like I do when my characters are being particularly themselves.) But what in the name of Ned has the poor orange done to deserve being blamed for DEATH?
I have forgotten this plenty of times in my adult, post acculturation life and suffered neither indigestion nor — certainly — death. Unless, of course, I got better.
Look, sometimes there are sayings and superstitions you can kind of see. For instance my mother in law was horrified when she found I’d kept tomato paste in the can (in a ziploc) in the fridge, and lectured me about how once a can is open the contents become poisonous.
Now, I grant you that if you leave it in an open can, the contents start tasting of the metal. BUT POISONOUS? Well…. researching I found out this is true of lead cans which no one has used in a century, give or take (too lazy to go look.)
So, you know, her grandmother told her, and her mom told her, and then–
So, I can see where that one came from. But Oranges, really?
I’ll refrain from chasing down the rathole of the more superstitious one, like breaking a spider web with your face is bad luck. (well, you’re probably going to have a spider in your hair. So if you mind, that is indeed bad luck.) Or killing a spider first thing in the morning is good luck. (Poor spider.)
And I know there is something to “don’t swim after eating, it will stop your digestion” which might have something to do with its being an arctic current in the North of Portugal, and if not stopping your digestion making you feel ill and out of sorts.
But seriously? I don’t think — daringly — I needed to observe three hours because I had a cracker and some cheese, no matter what mom thought.
And still I come back to the orange. It’s so non-sensical a saying I managed to erase it wholly from my head.
I’m sure there are others, btw, like the belief that if you drink water with fish, you’ll feel like the fish is swimming around in your stomach (the grease, I assume. Cold waters, greasy fish) but the one about the orange strikes me as uniquely insane, and makes me wonder if in this parallel world, where I apparently grew up, oranges become sentient at night, and don little capes, and grab daggers to come kill you in your sleep.
I got nothing.
I’m sure there was a thought, or at least some idea behind it, but it failed to make it. It is said under “everybody knows” in the same way as “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Hey, maybe it was the apple lobby, trying to throw shade on oranges?
What do you guys think? And are there other utterly non-sensical proverbs and sayings you learned?
Please? It’s lonely out here, being the only one from an insane parallel world.