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Friday, 03 February 2012

Idiot Moments

By Mark Sherman

I am approaching a birthday and birthdays always seem like a time to assess my life. Actually, for many years now they have seemed like a time to shriek with horror over the prospect of mortality, but I'll settle for the assessment.

Today, I've decided to look back at what one could call idiot moments. There have been so many over the years that it will be hard to pick just a few. But here are a couple that come to mind.

I am not known for my bravery but I did something at the age of 11 which showed bravery or, to put it more accurately, incredible stupidity.

I was the skinniest boy in my seventh-grade homeroom. I had complained about this to my dad who assured me that I was not. But one day in our gender-segregated hygiene class, the teacher measured the heights of weights of all the boys in the class and announced them out loud.

Loving math, I wrote them all down and divided each boy's weight by his height. I discovered that my ratio was the lowest. I was right. Plus I was not very tall. I was, in a two-word phrase, a skinny shrimp.

But I was a boy and boys challenge other boys.

A popular pastime in the schoolyard after lunch was "Indian wrestling" (probably today called Native American wrestling). Two boys stood facing each other with their right feet side by side; they then grasped each other's right hand. Another boy said "Go," and each participant would try to dislodge the other from his position.

I challenged Robert, one of the biggest boys in the class.

He protested. "No, Mark," he said. "It'll be ridiculous."

But I was a boy. I had to prove myself.

So we assumed the position, surrounded by other boys. We took each other's right hand and someone said, "Go!"

The next thing I knew I was flying through the air and coming down head first to the ground. Amazingly - and maybe because I was so low to the ground - I don't think I lost consciousness. But my head hurt terribly all afternoon and the next day my neck was so stiff I couldn't go to school.

But I had proved myself.

I had proved myself an idiot.

Another incident occurred when I was 11 or 12 and my brother was about 10, and our parents had left us home alone for a couple of hours one afternoon. Of course, this was a mistake.

I don't know if you'd call it child abuse or neglect because we were, theoretically, a couple of pretty bright young guys and this was a Jewish neighborhood in 1950s Brooklyn where violent crime was almost unheard of. But leaving brothers alone together for any length of time before they reach the age of 60 or so is probably unwise.

What I thought might be fun was to toast some matzo. So I got a small piece and put it in the toaster. After a minute or so, when I figured it was done, I tried to take it out but there was no way to reach it without using a fork. So without unplugging the toaster, I put the fork in.

Suddenly, I was jerked sharply backward.

Wow, I thought, that was great!

I didn't realize that what had happened was that I had literally received a jolt of electricity, enough to convulse my body. All I knew is that I had had an incredible experience, which made my usual attempt to change my consciousness - namely, spinning - seem like a childish waste of time.

"Try it," I said to my brother. "Come on, try it!"

While he was younger, he was in this case wiser and he declined. I guess it had looked pretty frightening to see me thrown backward. And, actually, I did not repeat it. Something in my brother's look of alarm probably convinced me that this was a one-time thrill.

I have long considered myself a pretty cautious person but I guess that as a child I was relatively fearless (or monumentally stupid). Along with the Indian wrestling and toaster incidents, I once put my finger into the socket the guy at the corner hardware store used to test light bulbs. And another time I swung from our refrigerator door, jumping down only as the refrigerator began to fall forward.

Thankfully, I did wise up as I got older. Otherwise I could have wound up a candidate for one of those "Darwin awards," which commemorate those who, according to the books and website of the same name, "improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it."

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Good to see you back, Mark, and, of course, funny as always. Glad you survived all those episodes!

OR, as someone told my brother,who was also a daredevil like yourself,"Bob, the one thing your Gene Pool needs is a lifeguard."

Did you ever notice that on America's Funniest Videos it is seldom a woman who is riding down the icy hill on a shovel,or diving off the garage roof into a child's swimming pool? Or jumping on a trampoline until either IT or THEY collapse?

Do you think that's why women live longer?

Loved it Mark. Your sense of humor is so funny funny. Hope you post some more so that I can enjoy them.

I'm the kid who stuck a hairpin into a socket when I was about four-years-old.

My mother asked why I was hiding my hand and finally demanded to see it. After seeing the burn on my hand, she located the socket with the hairpin still in it...

I think that I was more afraid of my mother than the shock.

Never leave boys alone. I left my two oldest alone, one 16 the other 13 for a weekend. My neighbor said she'd feed them and keep check on them.When we returned and I got into my fastback Mustang I realized it had been moved. I always write down the mileage when I get gas and had just filled it before we left. I was shocked; the car had been driven 800 miles.I never asked, just changed the car ingnition and that stopped that.

Great story, funny turns of phrase.

Reminds me of the time my mom was boiling some eggs. She had to go run an errand and asked my big brother and I to remember to turn off the pan in FIVE minutes.

We completely forgot about it until we heard something exploding and ran in to discover the ceiling and most of the kitchen covered with burnt egg debris.

I could throw in a pun here, but I am resisting it. ;-)

Enjoyed your well told confessions, Mark.

It's amazing you made it...you and all the other confessors. Laughing myself sick here....

I had a very idiot moment... I bought food at a fast food store it was a wrap they told me it would be 15 minutes I said okay...mean while more customers come by and order watever they order so the guy that hands out a wrap I decided to go get it thinking it's mine I sit down and start eating the guy looks at me and says u didn't order that one... Now at this point I have already eaten some of it I was embarrassed decided to just stick with what I was eating then figure out the one I ate was cheaper than the one I bought..fml

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