Burnt Toast: Lies My Mother Told Me

When I was in university, I used to sing and play acoustic guitar in coffee houses. With heartfelt belief in my deep wisdom, I would belt out song after song about love, rejection and Winnie the Pooh. Such is life at 19.

I was told that my voice sounded like Joan Baez (while years later, my husband would say that my warble sounded more like a female Johnny Mathis). Whenever I received a compliment about my singing abilities, I would always share the secret of my singing success: burnt toast.

“Really?” was the common reply.

“Yes! My Mom told us when we were kids that burnt toast improves your singing voice”, I said.

“Really! I’ve never heard that before.”

“Yup. I don’t know how it works, but it does.”

So, ten years later when I was talking to my Mom and the topic of singing came up, I brought up the subject of burnt toast. “Thanks Mom for that tip about burnt toast.”

“Pardon? Burnt toast?”

“You know. You said it was good for our singing voice.”

Pause then laughter coming through the telephone line. “You didn’t believe that did you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Burnt toast. I told you kids that so you would stop wasting so much bread.”

“Huh?” my mind quickly trying to recall how many people I had shared this amazing tip with. Flashbacks of a raised eyebrow here; curve of a lip there in a suppressed smile.

My Mom lied to me. The woman I trusted told a flat-out lie. This was worse than the Santa Claus thing by a mile. I re-told that health tip with conviction, espousing the holy benefits of burnt toast far and wide. How could I ever trust this woman again? What other lies had slipped past those smiling lips?

Mothers indeed, are a hearty mix of love and tough love with a dash of white lies to pepper the concoction. As I help my Mom trace our family’s roots to Ireland, I look at the maternal line with curiosity. What lies did my mother’s forebearers tell their offspring (in one case – ten of them!), but more importantly, were any of these kids good singers thanks to burnt toast?

What lies did your Mom tell you when you were growing up?

Burnt toast maker


4 thoughts on “Burnt Toast: Lies My Mother Told Me”

  1. Hi Tara, On this, the 20th anniversary of my mom’s passing – thank you for sharing your great story. Whenever I hear House on Pooh Corner…I think of you – acoustic guitar in hand, the Pipestone River & “the Nunnery”. Wonderful memories…Tammy

  2. You lost your Mom so early. I am sorry for your loss. Yes, those were wonderful memories to be sure. It was lovely to share them with you.

  3. I believed the burnt toast line too! But I think I clued in sooner than you – because I could never carry a tune despite all the burnt pieces.
    “Christopher Robin and I walked along under branches lit up by the moon”

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