It was about 3am in the morning and instead of sleeping I was looking through a Christmas cookbook that Lisa and I picked up at a thrift store. I started paging through it at midnight, thinking that I’d get a few good ideas for the holidays. Three hours later, and I found a recipe for succotash. Not a particular favorite of mine for containing one of the most offensive non-bean beans on the planet: the lima bean.
In that third hour of the morning, it struck me that I was never comfortable saying the word “legume” and this discomfort extends to my childhood. I was taught, as most of us were taught, to sound out a word that you’ve never seen or heard before, rather than just asking an adult for help. So, I did and the sound that came out didn’t seem right to me. At this point I should say that I actually sounded it out correctly. It just didn’t sound right to my child ear. It sounded stupid. I was the type of kid that was easily embarrassed, so I kept this stupid sounding word to myself for decades. What harm could it do? I mean, how often does anyone need to say “legume” in their life? Not often. Especially if “lima bean” will do, right? But then I found out that peanuts, peas, chickpeas, and all sorts of beans and nuts were part of the legume family and that I may actually need to use it in casual conversation one day.
It was time to just bite the legume and have it out. Out loud that is.
When we’re children, we get mental fixes in our heads that we can’t always overcome even as adults. It may seem completely inane to hold onto it once we grow up and understand the irrationality of it, but the mind does what it does. I’m still afraid of mirrors after midnight to this day because of an urban legend about Bloody Mary that my cousin told me about in graphic detail. I was about ten years old. I know nothing is coming out of that mirror. I mean, it’s not even silver backed, and I think it has to at least be silver backed before a portal opens from Hell. Those are the rules.
So tell me, is there any word out there that you don’t say just because you think it sounds stupid or you think you won’t pronounce it right? Or do you have any fears from your childhood that just won’t let go even though you’re in your forties now? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear about it!