Speaking of gas stations and my strange affinity for the smell of gasoline…

When I was a child, there were a couple phrases that always came up in my life.

The first one, which arose in conversation when I was being a little shit, was, “I’m gonna sell you to the gypsies!”

I know, it sounds harsh (see: not really), but my mom almost always said it in a joking manner. Almost. But I didn’t really know what gypsies were, so the threat never held much weight with me.

Then the movie Chocolat came out, and Johnny Depp was a gypsy…


And then I was pretty okay with it.

The second, though, would cause me some childhood trauma, unbeknownst to my mother.

Any and every time we were walking through a parking lot, or behind a car that was running, my mom would pull me by as fast as possible, holding my hand, and say, “Don’t breathe! Don’t breathe!”

Sure, it may seem logical enough now – she meant don’t inhale the fumes. But that’s not what she said. She said, “Don’t breathe!” So I would try not to breathe, but I would inevitably fail, and then I would think that (A) I was a disappointment, and (B) something terrible was going to happen to me.

I flip-flopped between that and thinking that my mom just wanted me to stop breathing, which was a scary thought I tried never to dwell on.

That was when I learned that grown-ups are confusing.

Did your parents say anything random to you that makes sense now, but was totally weird to you when you were a kid?