In Ken Jennings's latest book, Because I Said So!: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids, the famed Jeopardy! champion dissects those ever-important warnings our parents nagged us about, separating myth from fact, with a dose of humor and a pinch of smarts. Ken will be at Village Books on Thursday, January 24, 7pm for what will surely be a riotous evening of whistle-blowing and debunking.
Below is an excerpt from the book, just to give you a taste of what is in store.
I was sitting in my parents’ kitchen not long ago when my young son, Dylan, came whipping around the corner with a grape Tootsie Pop firmly clamped in his teeth.
“Whoa, slow down!” I said. “What if you tripped and fell on your face? The lollipop stick would get jammed right through the roof of
Dylan’s eyes got wide. “Could that really happen?”
I had to admit, I had no idea. This was something my mother had told me repeatedly while I was growing up, but it’s not like I’d ever dug into the relevant medical literature or consulted with surgeons. What do you do when a nine-year-old calls your bluff?
“Of course it’s true!” I told him. “Go sit down at the table until you’re done with your lollipop.” Just like with terrorists and bears! You can’t show any doubt or weakness!
I found my mom and asked her to back me up: it’s true about lollipop sticks and horrific puncture wounds, right? She had no idea. “That’s what Grandma used to tell us,” she said. “I think it also happens in a Chaim Potok novel. The Chosen, maybe?”
I was horrified. A fact I’d confidently passed along to my trusting children turned out to be thirdhand rumor confirmed only by a novelist? (A novelist-slash-rabbi, but still. And it turns out the lollipop injury isn’t in The Chosen, anyway. It’s from In the Beginning.)
What else had I been inadvertently misleading them about? Washing behind their ears? Chewing with their mouths closed? Was our whole life together a huge lie?
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Excerpted from BECAUSE I SAID SO: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids. © 2012 by Ken Jennings. Excerpted with permission by Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.