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The Logic of Children

When I was three, my mother often took me to a convenience store that was a few blocks from home to get a slurpy. Every time we went and I ordered a slurpy, Mom also purchased a fruit-flavored candy bar. She handed it over the counter, it disappeared, and a slurpy would appear in its place. I never saw the candy bar again and I couldn’t see the slurpy machine behind the counter, so I assumed the store clerk turned the candy bar into a slurpy somehow.

At home, we frequently had chocolate pudding for dessert. Mom would mix the pudding in a large bowl and stick it in the fridge to chill. When it was time for dessert, she’d pull it out and serve us all some pudding. One day she peered into the refrigerator and demanded to know who stuck their finger in the pudding. That evening, when she served dessert, it was butterscotch instead of chocolate. I spent the next year thinking that butterscotch pudding was the result of that unidentified person sticking their finger in it.

One day when I was exploring the neighborhood, I wandered onto another street where the houses had built-in bird houses. With great fascination, I watched a bird fly into one. At that moment, a piece of humming machinery started up in someone’s back yard. I assumed that the hum I heard meant that birds were in the bird houses.

It’s the logic of young children that makes for some strange memories later in life. You see, a kid doesn’t know what’s normal and what’s not. Something paranormal could occur right in front of them and they wouldn’t know the difference. Someday that same person will be an adult, look back on their childhood memories, and do a double take. I’ve been guilty of this myself.

Like the time I was playing in my back yard and I happened to glance over into the neighbor’s yard and saw a strange object hovering over his lawn. It was metal on the bottom and glass on the top, and inside were several gears and hoses. The object appeared to be attached to a green garden hose and was making clicking noises as it moved across the lawn.

When I was older and questioned this memory, my parents explained to me that our neighbor liked to collect all sorts of weird devices, especially for doing yard work. I can only guess this was one of his weird gardening gadgets. Though this mystery is pretty easy to solve, not every WTF memory from that age can be explained so simply.

There was a set of black metal spikes that jutted out of the side of the house above the back door. I remember there were about five or six of them. Mom later told me they were plant holders, but whatever they were, they were the source of one of my strangest memories, and it had nothing to do with my neighbor’s weird collection of gardening implements.

One day when I was playing on the patio, I started to hear a strange humming sound. I got curious and looked around for the source, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. That’s when I realized it was coming from above me. The metal plant hangers were humming steadily, almost visibly vibrating from the intensity of the sound.

Today I try to think of the logical reasons for why the plant hangers would be vibrating. We lived in California, so it could’ve been an earthquake, except for the fact that the sound continued for several minutes and earthquakes only last a few seconds. It was windy that day, so the vibration could’ve been caused by the breeze moving through the metal spikes. However, this does not explain why the sound didn’t occur on other windy days. Perhaps, like with the bird houses, there was a piece of machinery running somewhere that caused the vibration.

Whatever it was, it only happened that one time. I often stopped and waited for the metal spikes to hum again, but they never did. I wouldn’t say this was a paranormal mystery, but it was certainly strange. I’ll probably never know what it was now.

Even stranger was what happened one day while I was riding in the car in downtown Concord, California. My dad was driving and my mom and sister were also in the car. The sky was absolutely clear and blue that day, to the point that my parents were commenting about it. There were blossoms on the trees, so it was obviously springtime.

As Mom and Dad babbled on and on about their adult business, I happened to glance out the car window and was surprised to see something floating in the sky. It was rather large, though it was too far away to tell exactly how big the thing was. Generally rectangular in appearance, it had a rounded bulge on the bottom and looked very much like a flying silver toilet.

I don’t know why I didn’t point it out to anyone else. Instead, I spent the next ten minutes staring at the object as it slowly crossed the sky. Eventually it disappeared somewhere in the city and I never saw it again. I kind of shrugged and went back to whatever I was doing before I saw it.

It wasn’t until I got older that I realized there is no such thing as an aircraft shaped like a flying toilet. I am left to ponder what it was I actually saw crossing the sky that day. Perhaps it was really a helicopter and the sunlight distorted the image. Or maybe, because it was near the dealership row, it was an escaped advertising balloon that got caught in the wind. Until the day I can say for certain what I saw, I can only declare three things: it was an object, it was flying, and it was unidentified.

This concludes my three-part series of the strange things that happened when I was three. I have many more paranormal or unexplained stories from childhood and adulthood, but for some reason my third year was really busy with them. Perhaps there is someone out there who has the answers to my questions concerning these strange experiences. Until I can fill in the missing pieces, I can only shrug and say, “That was weird!”


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