Me Do Something Stupid? Surely You Jest.
I write often about the stupidity I see out there in the Big World and not too long ago, someone asked me if I have ever done anything stupid which I thought was a bit cheeky. I told them, of course, that the short answer is “no I haven’t”.
I told them that I am always focused and never make the kind of silly mistakes to which so many others seem to be prone. I was so convincing, I almost began to believe it myself.
While we were in Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago, for example, I bought a watch. It’s a very nice watch and much easier to read than the stainless steel face on my old watch. It’s a chronograph with multiple dials and is water proof which will come in handy should I ever decide to take up scuba diving or fall off a cruise ship. It has a soft gold face with numbers I can actually see.
My previous watch was just a plain circle of burnished steel; no numbers just highly light-reflecting steel that made it almost impossible to read.
One of the things about which I was particularly proud is that the new watch is automatic and self-winding. There’s no need to use environmentally unfriendly batteries, just give it a good bit of movement before the first time you wear it, set the time and away you go. The movement of your arm keeps winding it or at least that’s the theory.
The problem is that I don’t always wear my watch. I don’t like to wear it while I’m working which means that it is off more often than it is on and that, my friends, means it wasn’t getting enough ‘action’ to keep it powered up.
I didn’t want to have to wear the damn thing all day and I certainly wasn’t going to admit to Maggie that we had a bit of a technical issue so I did some after-purchase research and discovered that there are things called watch winders; an instrument that actually provides sufficient movement to keep your self-winding watch fully powered. They come in single, double and multiple watch models and can range in price from $39 to more than $10,000.
Imagine that. Civilization has advanced from winding our own watches to battery power and now to a point in human history where we now have machines that run on batteries or direct AC to – well – wind our watches. Who says we aren’t progressing?
I decided I needed to buy a watch winder to prevent my watch from becoming one more ornament cluttering my desk and it works perfectly. I now have a very nice watch that I got a real deal on and a watch winder that cost 2 ½ times what the watch cost. It also takes up so much space on my desk I had to rearrange some stuff.
Some might consider that kind of stupid but I prefer to think of it as an unintended consequence of trying to do my bit to keep the planet green. The fact that the watch winder uses more power than a battery-operated watch is and inconvenient outcome. My heart was in the right place – just like Green Party Leader Elizabeth May’s.
Maggie suggested that the next time I consider a battery operated Timex. I asked her how many more pairs of shoes she needed.
Sometimes, I confess that I come close to being stupid but I don’t actually believe it is my fault.
The other day I called a plumber and when he answered the phone, I forgot who it was I was calling. My brain went blank, a complete white out, a flash flood that cleansed the land washing away all in its path.
He said ‘Hello’ and so I said, ‘Hello’ to buy some time and then there was a bit of an extended silence while he waited for me to say something and I tried to remember who I was calling and why. To be honest, I don’t actually consider this to be stupid, I prefer to think of it as Bell Canada’s fault for not having two-way caller ID.
I’m a good driver and haven’t had an accident in more than thirty years but as much as I hate to admit it, I still have my non-lethal moments.
Last month, Maggie and I were on our way out to visit the kids. We stopped for breakfast on the way and then headed across town. When we got to one particular stop sign, I just sat there and Maggie finally asked what I was waiting for and I realized that I had been waiting for the red stop sign to turn green.
I didn’t admit that, of course. I told her that I was trying to remember if we had turned off the stove which I was forced to admit wasn’t really very quick thinking on my part. . .especially after she reminded me that we had just had breakfast at The Diner and hadn’t used the stove.
Sometimes you actually end up looking even more stupid when you try to wriggle your way out of being stupid.
Some might consider my inability to spell even with Spell Check but I like to consider that more of a flamboyant use of language and grammar; sort of accidental creativity rather than stupidity. I can rationalize with the best of them.
The sad truth is, however, that like most people, I’ve done lots of stupid things in my life. The new watch is just the latest in a long litany of poorly thought out things that I’ve done and they all share one thing in common. They were impulsive acts, the result of things I hadn’t thought through or instructions I hadn’t bothered to read before trying to assemble something.
Most of the time it’s fairly benign stupidity but on occasion I’ve done things that were not only stupid but stupidly dangerous.
Probably the most dangerous stupid thing I ever did involved a very nasty and unpleasant run-in with Purell. I hadn’t heard of Purell when it first came out but my office staff all started putting small dispensers of it on their desks and every time they came to see me they were always rubbing their hands. I knew it wasn’t because they were rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of spending a few minutes with me so I asked what it was. I was impressed to discover that there was a product that sanitized your hands and self-dried at the same time and immediately bought four or five dispensers plus a large refill bottle. When I commit to something; I commit.
It wasn’t long after that we were going out for dinner after work and I was late and didn’t have time for a shower. It was one of those hot, sticky and very humid days which meant that my body was hot, sticky and very humid. I started to wash up when I saw the bottle of Purell and thought, “there’s a quick and easy solution” and slathered it on ‘the boys’.
As it turned out, this was not one of my better decisions and rather than act impulsively, I probably should have stopped to consider the ramifications of my actions.
For those of you who have never thought of doing that but are wondering what it might be like; try to imagine someone lighting a fire in your crotch with a blow torch. I spent the next half hour in the bathtub in cold water and we were, of course, late for dinner.
There is no teacher like experience but sometimes experience is one bitch of a teacher – a bigger bitch than my Grade 10 Latin teacher, Mrs. Jamieson and she could be pretty bitchy.
In my own defense, I at least knew the difference between The Czech and the Chechen Republics and I seldom make the same mistake twice which I can assure you ‘‘the boys’’ are relieved to know. I seem to learn from my mistakes which is a good thing because there just seems to be so many new ones waiting to be discovered.
So yes; I do and have done stupid things in my life but not very often when it comes to my opinions or my beliefs. I try to base my opinions on a combination of real facts and my own life experience and that has served me well over the years.
I just wish I could remember that before I buy a watch or discover the limitations of a product like Purell.
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