I think we all have those moments when we feel like we are too damned stupid to be left unsupervised. My moments always seem to include a sense of ‘how did I not see that coming?’ oh, and they’re usually expensive, embarrassing, or painful. Once in a while, I manage a trifecta and get all three. Woohoo.
The earliest such event that I can recall involved me wanting to see how fast I could take ‘Dead Man’s Elbow’ on my bicycle. I was about 13. ‘Dead Man’s Elbow’ was a downhill curve with a bunch of houses on one side and a deep gorge on the other. Of course, the curve bent away from the gorge just at the steepest bit. I think I got up to 60 or 70kph. I can’t really be sure. What I can be certain of, though, is that I felt decidedly stupid climbing a tree at the bottom of the gorge and wrestling to untangle my bike.
You see, if you go really fast down a steep hill with a curve at the end, you won’t actually be able to turn along the curve. No. You will beautifully illustrate Newton’s first law which goes: “Every object continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, so you will plunge headlong into that deep gorge and wreck your bike, you pillock.” or something like that.
Another moment of incredible stupidity involved a romantic evening between consenting adults… Or should have. Let me explain. A very nice lady and myself were enjoying ourselves and the freedom of being in our early twenties. On this particular evening, a movie marathon of ‘B’ grade horror movies was on the idiot box. We were watching the movies. Clothes were not in evidence. The very nice lady informs me that she’d quite like a toasted cheese. Basically, a piece of bread, something savoury, some cheese on top, whacked under the grill. Right? Problem. New to the flat. New to the GAS oven. Might have taken a bit long getting the pilot light… Um… Lit. Whooosh!
Grillers on gas ovens are – for a fellow of my height – just a bit lower than where we wear our belt buckles. Needless to say, I had not planned an evening of ointments and ice, but that’s what I got. But here’s the thing. That isn’t the bit that made me feel unbelievably stupid. Okay, daft yes. Embarrassed and injured, yep. But I give myself a pass due to my unfamiliarity with the oven. No, the stupid bit comes next. My mother (the Meandering Matriarch) is… comfortable in herself. She doesn’t have a lot of hang ups. She’s the kind of woman who decides to get a Brazilian and then blogs about it. She’s not a terribly subtle soul… or reserved.
My ‘how did I not see that coming?’ bit was telling her about my slight conflagration and then having to endure the inevitable ‘pleasure’ of my mother singing the Jerry Lee Lewis song ‘Great Balls of Fire’ at me frequently thereafter.
So. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, I have another one. Sort of. It doesn’t really compare with the previous ones mentioned, but it is important for the context of what comes next.
A friend of mine has an inadequate chicken coop. I helpfully suggested that we build a new one. While doing so, I could teach him a bit about woodwork (okay, not a lot, but a bit). To do this, I set up my table saw. Unfortunately, I put the saw in backwards. Such saws have a forward and a backwards for a reason. Basically it all has to do with which direction the saw blade is spinning. So when I go to fire it up and test it… well… It’s really amazing how quickly a piece of wood can achieve NASA-esque velocities. Sadly, it’s trajectory was out through the window. Unfortunately, the window was closed at the time. Sigh.
Being me, I admit it to my silver haired mum, because I know she enjoys a good laugh. Imagine my delight, then, to have her admit shortly thereafter that she, too, has an admission. Just the other day, while getting her guest room ready for a visitor, she spied a scorpion on the floor. Yes, a scorpion. The evil nasty lethal arthropod things that normally infest egyptian mummies tombs and scorpion pits. Famed throughout legend and history for being venomous.
It wasn’t moving. She wanted to check if it was dead. Now… How would a sensible person check to see whether a dangerous critter is still alive and stroppy? Well, whatever that method is, it isn’t what my mum did. No, she nudged it with her toe.
So. Picture a woman of a certain age with a now irate scorpion CLINGING to her sock. I think we can all agree; ‘how did she not see that coming?’
The happy ending of the story is that nobody was hurt by my ballistic bit of wood (except the window) and my mother was not savagely stung. We all get to live happily ever after (except for the scorpion, who got bludgeoned to death with a cowboy boot). We all get to keep having our moments, and we all get to tell our loved ones just how mind numbingly, incomparably stupid we really are. My guess is, they already know.