Jun 26, 2010

Not the sharpest tack

Have you ever done something stupid that you wished you could take back immediately after you did it? Feel free to share. You may be asking yourself, "Why would anyone share such things in the public forum that is 'The Internet?'" I can't answer that for you, the reader, but for me, writing about my past experiences (both good and bad) helps me remember those things. Why would I want to remember the things probably better forgotten? Think about the stories your parents or grandparents (or aunts and uncles) told you as you were growing up. How many of those stories involved some mishap that later turned the whole incident into something humorous (though may not have been at the time it happened)?

Fine, so write them down, sure, but why share them with the world? Because when we can laugh at ourselves, or learn from our own mistakes, we find others that may have done similar things. We may also find a memory that we can then turn into a short story or a full-on novel if we really get going.

Here are a couple examples from my own experiences. As best I can, I will also include the approximate age this happened. Why? because you'll see that you don't have to be a child to do dumb things.

When I was in second or third grade (7 or 8 yrs old), I had been watching Bugs Bunny cartoons on TV one day. The show where Bugs helps Betsy Ross come up with a pattern for the flag gave me an idea. I went out into the front yard and laid a rake on the ground with the teeth facing skyward. I paced back and forth a few times. On the last time, I stepped hard down on the teeth of the rake. The handle came directly at my face and smacked me squarely on the forehead, side of my nose, and my chin. Much like the cartoon, I saw plenty of stars. Unlike the cartoon, however, I fell backward onto the ground, having been nearly knocked out by infinite wisdom. I don't particularly remember much between falling and getting back up again. I can say with authority that one should not attempt the things one sees in a cartoon. I'd be especially wary of the Roadrunner ones.

My father refereed soccer for many years while I was growing up. For a time, I too earned money overseeing matches. I suppose I was in ninth grade for this particular adventure. Dad worked a tournament in the Southside of Pittsburgh. After the matches were over, my brother and I ran on to the field and began kicking the ball around. We dribbled, shot, tries tricks, and generally goofed around while Mom and Dad gathered everything to head home. I stood about midfield and kicked the ball at my brother, who was in one of the goals. He blocked the shot and kicked the ball back at me. As the ball got close, I started dribbling backward. The ball moved between my legs and under my feet as I continued to move further and further away from him. As I gained speed in this backward motion, I suddenly found myself lying on the ground with a powerful headache. I had backed myself full-speed into one of the goal posts! My brother came over to check on me. My parents, who must have only seen him walking toward me and me lying on the ground, called out, "Get up and let's go!" It wasn't until the ride home that I told my folks why I had been on the ground. When quizzed as to why he didn't stop me, my brother said, "Well, I thought you were going to turn around or stop. I didn't think you'd run into the goal post."

In high school (this would be 10th grade), a friend of mine offered to drive me home in his truck. We lived in an apartment in Westminster, Colorado. We pulled into the parking lot and he stopped to let me out. I opened the door and he suddenly gunned the vehicle into motion. Rather than shutting the door, I jumped from the moving truck. As I flew through the air, I pictured myself landing hard and rolling across the pavement. Rather than face that, I managed to reach back and grab the door handle of the truck. I slammed against the side and my legs dragged across the ground, tearing a large hole in my jeans at the knees. The truck stopped and my friend said, "What the heck are you doing!?" "I was jumping out to get home." "What the heck would you do that for!?" Honestly, I hadn't lived in the area long and I didn't know if he was going to let me out or not. I told him, "I didn't think you'd let me out." He laughed. "Man, that is the craziest thing I have seen anyone do!" You would think I had learned not to do such things in the future. Nope.

As a sophomore (or maybe freshman, hard to remember) in college, a group of friends and I were up late after going to the movies. Rather than heading back to the dorm, we went to a nearby park. We played on the see-saws, rode the swings, and generally made fools of ourselves. As the swinging continued, we decided to see who could jump the farthest while the swing was in motion. I'm not sure what happened, but when it came my turn, I got the swing going high enough that it at least appeared to reach its peak parallel to the bar that held the chains. As I came forward from the backswing, I thrust myself out of the seat and into the air. As in my previous story, I suddenly questioned my actions midflight. I grabbed the chain and fell straight to the ground. As everyone laughed, I checked myself for signs of destruction. The only thing bruised: my ego.

Naturally, I have done many other things that left eyewitnesses scratching their heads. Each of these tales from true events could be expanded into longer stories and/or combined into a novelization.

So, I pose to you the question I asked at the beginning: Have you ever done something stupid that you wished you could take back immediately after you did it?

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