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"Wha' Happened?"
posted October 13, 2014 @11:44a
“Don’t climb on that rock!”

“Don’t put that in your mouth!”

“Don’t eat crackers before dinner!”

Day after day, I surprise myself with how little risk I want my little one to take. When she’s eating something crunchy, I’ll make sure she knows to “chew, chew chew!” I hold her hand if she’s walking on a ledge over two inches tall. When she coughs, I coerce her to cough even more, just to make sure her airways are completely clear.

I’m not this person.

I take risks. I’ve even put myself in countless situations – some a little risky, yes – just to see if I can come out with a good story.

When I was 14 years old, I bought my first car, a 1977 VW Rabbit, for $250. I did figure-eights in the backyard for two years to practice before I got my license. I “souped” it up as far as my paycheck from working as a 16-year-old doorman and projectionist at Carmike Cinemas would take me (which happened to always-and-forever be minimum wage). I discovered an ancient, push-button, dial radio from the 60s in the basement that I used to listen to my jams. I wired and installed RCA jacks on the speaker shelves in the back, and plugged in old home stereo speakers (so I could open the hatchback and place the speakers right on the ground). And I took out the front passenger seat so I had the front half of the car – my own personal freedom – all to myself.

I made many, many bad decisions in that car, and took many, many risks. Cars really aren’t the best medium for risks… At one point, I’d counted having 41 accidents in that car (that's if you count everything - mailboxes, trees, pedestrians) before the age of 18. It wasn’t good.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: I do NOT recommend taking any vehicle-related risks.

But in my teenage years, I DID take those risks.

One day, I was driving down a four-lane highway as I passed one of my favorite people. I’ll call him Ninja Tad, since these were two words he often used. I’m sure I was yelling out the window, waving, probably making some idiotic faces. Then I thought to myself – as I often did – “Watch this, this’ll be funny!”

I floored the gas, and – as Jerry Reed might suggest - I kept my foot hard on that petal. I needed to get far enough ahead of Ninja Tad to give me time to prepare. Plus there was a good-sized hill coming up, and I knew I’d need it for coasting purposes, in order to carry out my plan.

After I raced to the top of the hill, I threw my automatic into neutral, probably going about 65mph or so. As the car was moving, I made my way OUT of the driver’s seat, stepping over the gear shift into the blank space where my passenger seat would have been, all the while holding the steering wheel with my left hand to make sure I stayed in the road. Then - just in time for Ninja Tad’s approach –I moved from a squatting position on the passenger side floor of the car, to a bent-over, touch-your-toes, standing position, dropping my pants to give him a spectacular view of the full moon.

Hilarity ensued.

But now... I’m afraid to let my little one touch a slug because of some story I read three years ago about a rare Hawaiian disease?

Maybe I need to find a middle ground here.


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