Living after doing stupid

Have you ever thought back on wonder how you survived this long?

As the saying goes, there are bold pilots and there are old pilots, but there are no old bold pilots.

I think my earliest memory at 8 was one of those bottle rockets. You fill this plastic projectile with water and then pump it full of air. Making this sharp plastic rocket into bottled death.

My friend was busy pumping up one of these plastic death dealers when I noticed that he was pointing it right at me. Thinking this was not particularly safe, I fell to the side to lie on the grass. It was at that instant the rocket let go and basically grazed my face.

At about 10 my parents got me one of those BB guns. I built a little shooting gallery in the basement. I thought it would be cool to use those little metal hockey players from the hockey games they used to sell. Shooting them down I was Zabata. I was the Rifleman. A BB hit the metal player and ricocheted right back to just below my eye. No, instead I was Ralphie from Christmas Story.

I am beginning to think my parents were out to get me by enabling my various destructive tendancies.

My dear mother was kind enough to accompany me to the pharmacy. She asked for a few ounces of potassium nitrate, saltpeter. The major ingredient to gunpower. The pharmacist was astute enough to ask her as to why, and she simply responded that I wanted to conduct experiments. Which was true of course. He simply admonished her slightly that my intent was to make gunpowder. That was the experiment. That didn’t stop her. Or me of course. And this was 50 years ago. Kinder gentler more trusting times back then.

I didn’t have the internet. But I did have all 32 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Plus the maps and the index. All the world’s knowledge.

Flash forward a few years, then we have the teenage driving years. Got through that without a speeding ticket. I went through two transmissions however. And I went through, partially, one garage wall.

Not surprising, a lot of people are injured when skiing. When I was still in my late teens I went skiing through the forest. I careened towards an tree and managed to drive both my arms forward to force myself to merely shoulder check a tree at highspeed.

You think I would learned a bit better.

After attending a conference I went hiking in the mountains above the tree line. No water. No confirming with other people where I was going. But I struggled through this broken slate type of ridge. One side of the hill faced the lodge where a sharp eyed conference attendee might point out what that idiot, me, was doing. But if I fell on the other side, on the dark side so to speak, I doubt anyone would notice my absence till later the following day. I think some would notice my presence. But unfortunately those would have been the cougars. And not the figurative ones.

A few years later, again after a meeting, I drove up to the side of one of forest covered mountains and followed a cascading stream. As I worked my way, I had to cross the stream a few times. And it was deep and fast enough that if I fell in, it would have had its way with me. Meaning banging me around for about ten feet before bouncing me hard against one of the many boulders. Once, without notifying anyone, they would have started looking for me the following day. And there was the signage of course.

Keep watch for cougars.

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