So yesterday, we were waiting for word on an offer. And waiting. And waiting some more. And I started thinking about waiting, and I remembered the worst wait of all.
"You can't go in the water for an hour after you eat or you'll get stomach cramps and drown!"
This was an iron-clad rule, never to be violated. And it was universal - when I was growing up, no parent ever let their kids anywhere near the water until that hour was up. And it scared the crap out of us kids - we had no idea what stomach cramps were, but they sure sounded serious if they were enough to drown you. I think we all would have rather faced sharks than the dreaded stomach cramps.
So there we were, sitting miserably on the grass, waiting. And whatever we were allowed to do while we were waiting, it was totally lame compared to the fun our friends were having in the pool. That hour, faced regularly every summer, seemed like it would never end.
And, of course, it's totally bogus. It makes no sense - how often have you ever gotten stomach cramps from eating? And even then, how bad would they have to be to cause you to drown? Snopes.com rates it as a false old wives tale, and points out that there has never been a case of someone drowning for violating this rule.
Yet I have no doubt that many, if not most, of us who suffered through those long summer hours carried on the tradition by inflicting the same rule and warning on our kids. I suspect that it has been so firmly established that, were you to visit any pool around lunch time, there would be the same galleries of miserable children sitting around, waiting out that longest hour.