By Joe Rector
It’s a safe bet that all of us have done plenty of dumb things in our lives. Regardless of age, sex, or religion, we all have committed bone-headed things. Past experiences should help us, but for some reason, most of us are slow learners and continue to commit those goofy acts. They sometimes leave marks on our bodies so that we don’t ever forget the scene and circumstances of those moments.
Summers, when we were young, were long. Mother was going to school to earn her degree. As we were a bit older, we boys were left on our own when Daddy worked the day shift. Just like most children, we found ways to get in trouble or to have plenty of mishaps. On one occasion, Jim and I had a knife to play stretch. The game involved throwing a knife to the ground. If it stuck, the opponent had to keep one foot still and move the other to the knife. The winner was the one who outstretched the other. We finished one game, and I reached to pull the knife from the ground. Jim made the same move, and he got to the handle before I did. The blade raked across my wrist and left a gash. On this day, Mother had completed her classes and had decided to take a nap before cooking supper. I was most afraid to tell her I had cut my wrist and needed to go to the doctor. She was less than happy with our games and the resulting injuries.
On another summer day, the Cheek boys had come to the house, and we began playing ball. Steve Cheek was catching, and I think Jim was batting with a stick used to tie up beans in the garden. Jim tried to hit the ball but missed, and when he looked behind, he saw a bloody hole in the middle of Steve’s forehead. The game was postponed while he made his way to the doctor for stitches.
Jim and I were still young and didn’t have bikes of our own. My older brother and Mike Cheek would sit us on the bar and ride us around the yard. I was on Mike’s bike and when he made a turn, my bare foot caught in the spokes of the front wheel. Torn toenails and scratches had me screaming as if I were dying.
We boys tried smoking at an early age. Jim and I were 6-7 when Dal walked to the store and purchased a pack of Camels. We sneaked cigarettes from our parents’ packs, but one day, Daddy caught us. He flogged us with a belt and told us that we better never smoke again. Dal had a pack of Pall Mall red, and after Daddy went to work, he walked us to the neighbor’s barn and divided the pack up. He said we were going to smoke all in our possesson. Like most goofy kids, I obeyed my big brother and began puffing away. After the third one, I was dizzy and nauseated. I made it home, threw up a couple of times, and spent the rest of the day and night in bed. At breakfast the next morning, my mother sarcastically asked if I had recovered from my smoking sickness. Not much sympathy was spared for the results of a foolish act.
Those above incidents cover only a couple of years. Later, more stitches would close wounds, Clorox baths would dry up terrible cases of poison ivy, and glue, nails, and screws would repair furniture and other items we broke during horse playing or fighting in the house. My poor mother said we broke everything she had. Even to this day, Jim and I perform some amazingly bone-headed stunts. I suppose it comes from someplace deep inside our DNA.
I just hope we survive our dumb stunts at this stage in life.