When I was a kid, I was scared to death of quicksand.
I don’t know whether to blame Gilligan’s Island or The Incredible Hulk or one of the countless television shows and movies that portrayed people getting stuck in quicksand. All I know is, while a lot of people avoided swimming after watching Jaws, I preferred bodies of water to land, figuring the risk of a shark attack was minuscule compared to the very real danger posed by quicksand, which I believed lurked everywhere that wasn’t paved over. I was convinced I’d inadvertently step in a quicksand-filled swamp on my way to school and be swallowed whole, a thought that terrified me.
Sure, it seems silly now, but according to Slate magazine, 3% of all films released in the 1960s showed characters sinking in quicksand. No wonder I was so scared! The reality is, it’s physically impossible for a human to become completely immersed and drown in quicksand; because of the fluid’s high density, we can only sink to about waist-level. This still leaves us vulnerable to dehydration, hypothermia, or predator attack, but those all feel pretty unlikely. I am simply shocked to learn that Hollywood over-exaggerated the danger!
What, if any, irrational childhood fears did you have?
Still not sure if I’m writing every day this month…