Memories of a Childhood Moron

Archive for November, 2010

StuntMan: Head Over Heels

Even Stuntman is vulnerable to Cupid’s arrow. This is the story of the day my wife and I met. In spite of my poor showmanship that day I was still able to land Mrs. Right.

The horses’ name was Marmaduke. My buddy Wes warned me that his nickname was ‘911’.    He had sent several folks to the hospital with a variety of broken bones, lacerations and other injuries.   I have ridden horses off and on for most of my life.   I may not have always sat in the saddle perfect, but I could always ride pretty good.   He was a good horse, he just got spooked real easy.   You could be walking along and all of the sudden Marmaduke would jump to the side because something moved in the periphery of his vision.   If you weren’t ready for it you could fall opposite of the direction he jumped.

It is March.   Ryan and Wes ask me to go to the farm with them to ride horses.   Little did I know it, but I would meet the future Mrs. Stuntman that day.

It was still a little chilly that morning so we were all dressed up in blue jeans and flannel shirts or overalls and flannel shirts.   It had been raining recently and the drive back to the farm was flooded over.   Water was up to the headlights on Ryan’s Thunderbird.   Wes had a few of his friends over to ride horses to keep them in shape.   There were 3 or 4 guys and 3 girls, one of which was Lori.   I immediately saw something in her personality that piqued my curiosity.    She was always laughing or smiling about something.    She had a great laugh…….still does.

Ryan and I were the last ones there.   Everybody else was already saddled up and ready to go.   Marmaduke was readied for one of the girls who had ridden all her life.   Since I was going to be there they decided to let me have Marmaduke and she could ride her normal horse.   As I swing up into the saddle, I realize that the stirrups are pretty short.   I’m 6’1” and the saddle was set up for a 5’2” girl.   Everybody is eager to get started so I figure I will just fix the stirrups later on in the ride.

We start out slow.    Marmaduke has a very smooth gait.   His trotting doesn’t even bother me too bad.   The only thing that bothers me is the fact that I feel like a giant riding a tricycle with my knees up around my ears.

Not knowing where I am going, I let everybody else go in front of me.   Marmaduke obviously doesn’t like taking a back seat to any of the other horses.    He is grunting, throwing his head around and keeps trying to take off for the lead.

It doesn’t take long for somebody to take off running across the field.   This is what we have been waiting for.   I relax the reigns and we take off like a bullet.   We overtake all the others in short order.    As we pass Wes, he hollers out to warn me of a big ditch up ahead.   I don’t see it yet, but when I do we’ll stop.

“Crap! Whoa, boy!”   I see the ditch right on the other side of some taller grass.    Not wanting to risk the horse or myself I plant my feet in the stirrups and pull on the reigns hard.

Horses that are trained well are expecting a couple of ‘bumps’ in their bit and then you ease the reigns back smoothly.    This causes them to come to a smooth stop.   When you get in their mouth hard and quick…they stop hard and quick.   Marmaduke took this to a whole new level.

As I planted my feet, I am quickly reminded that I never set the stirrups to a proper length for my legs.   The combination of stopping on a dime and planting 3′ legs in 2′ stirrups catapults me directly over the horses’ head.   I lose all sense of direction and land on the rain softened earth with a less than graceful UGHN!   Marmaduke doesn’t move, he just looks down on me and exhales a snotty snort on me as if to say “Dumb ass!”

Everybody rides up to me real quick to make sure I’m alright.

“I’m OK.” I hop up real quick. The only thing I hurt was my pride.

“We’ll walk the horses across the ditch and on the other side we’ll really be able to open ’em up.”

I can feel all eyes on the idiot that can’t ride.    That’s all I can think about.   Wes and Ryan are the only ones that have ever ridden with me, so these other folks think I’m a greenhorn.    We cross the ditch/ravine, it was a good thing I didn’t try to jump it.

As we all mount back up, the horses are starting to spin a little, excited from the anticipation of the run we are getting ready to take.    Wes takes off and here we go again.    Like last time, Marmaduke takes off like a bat out of hell.    We pass everybody in short order and there is nothing but open field ahead.

Did I mention Marmaduke could be a touch skittish?   We must have been close to being attacked by brain-eating zombies cause here we go sideways.   I almost get thrown and as I reach for the pommel to help regain my balance, I must have hit the eject button again.   I am once again flying through the air with the greatest of difficulty like a human cannonball with vertigo.

To his credit, once again Marmaduke doesn’t try to flee, he just gives me his snort of disapproval.   I quickly scramble up on my feet and angrily start to change the length of my stirrups.   After adjusting them down about a foot each, the rest of the day went by with no incident.

~~

After our third or fourth date, Lori admitted to me she thought ‘Poor fella.   They shouldn’t put somebody so green on such a wild horse.’   She eventually came to love me in spite of my failings.   Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to date a pretty, level-headed woman who could stomach my sense of humor.    Little did she know that she would be spending at least the next 16 years hearing about and re-living my antics.

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Stuntman Grows Up

You would think that as Stuntman grew older he also grew wiser. That is true in some instances, but the instinct never entirely leaves.

My 9 year old step-son and I get off the chairlift and approach the starter.

“What lane do you want, Dust?”

“Doesn’t matter.   I’ll beat you from either side.”   I chose the right lane.

The Alpine slide was once a great thrill.   Now that I was approaching 30 I still got a little excited.    In my days as Stuntman, I found this to be a great show of my skills.   Now I was going to impart some of my thrill seeking side to my recently extended family.   My wife waited for us at the bottom of the hill.    Her final plea to me was to be sure that Dustin was at least as safe as he was having fun.

“Push the handle forward to go faster and pull it back to slow down.”  The bored starter drones as he hands us our ‘sleds’.

Summer was about over.   All-Star season had finally ended and we were trying to get in a couple of family outings before school started back.   We had already played miniature golf and ridden the go-carts and were going to do a couple of runs down the Alpine Slide with our wheeled sleds.

3…2…1…Go!   We take off at the same time.   I slam my stick forward and immediately take the lead.    As Dustin gets the feel for it he starts pushing the stick more and is now catching up with me.   The dull roar of four plastic wheels on concrete and the rush of the wind in my ears gets my blood pumping.   In the first turn I swing my weight to the left to bank as high as I can so I can get extra momentum coming out of the turn.   Dustin is yelling something at me, but I am too into winning to hear.

As I turn around to see what he is saying, (and to see how bad I am beating him ) I hear a ‘chank’ and feel something hit the seat I am in.   My keys.   Just as I am about to go into the next turn I tilt to one side to make sure my keys are still with me in the seat.  The sled starts to wobble under me and then I hear the keys hit concrete.   Next thing I know, I see the sled to my left and nothing but concrete to my right.    I try to stay in my seat, but fate would have other intentions.   I am sliding on my butt down the Alpine slide with the handle still in my left hand.   I wasn’t about to let go of the sled!   I plant my feet to stop.    This has a different effect than I had planned.   My feet catch under me and my upper body is thrust forward landing with a face plant but still skidding down the slide.   I finally come to rest, sled still in hand, and realize that Dustin is long gone.   I sheepishly walk back up the hill, retrieve my keys and sit back down in the sled.   It is just then that I feel burning in my right knee and shoulder.   The jeans were torn during the slide as had the front of my shirt.

“Where’s Coy?”

“I dunno. I think he fell out.”

Hearing this, the girl collecting the sleds at the bottom rushes into the office and brings back a first aid kit.

As I roll to a stop, blood oozing from my right knee and shoulder, the girl gets a little pale.   She obviously will not make it in the medical field.   I pull off my shirt to show my road rash.

“Give me the anti-septic spray, please.” Is that a gleam in my wife’s eye?    She shakes the can and takes aim.

“Living Hell!” I shout as the spray contacts ground flesh.

“Quit being such a baby!” She says as she shakes the can and takes aim again.

~~

I had to change my bandages a couple of times a day and my shirt at least once a day for about three days after the ride.   The ‘road rash’ kept weeping through the gauze and tape.    Now that I had aged and become a little wiser I took from that incident a valuable lesson.

Forget the keys, winning and pride is what matters most.

StuntMan

”3……2……1…….go!”

As I start pushing Alex down the driveway, my hands on the back of his shoulders, he is urging me to go faster and laughing all the way down. Well, maybe not all the way. Trying to steer a red wagon by a handle that sticks straight up is no mean feat. Apparently I wasn’t going in a straight enough line and when Alex tried to compensate by pivoting the handle, the wheels bit and turned too sharply causing the wagon to do a face plant and send me up flying over my nine year old friend. As granular chunks of asphalt dig into my young tender flesh that I was sure would be there forever, Alex and the wagon crash into me knocking the breath from my lungs. As my breathing starts to normalize, we discuss what went wrong. Lesson learned: Push straighter and don’t overcompensate.

The name of the game was StuntMan. It was a very simple game consisting of some way to either hurt yourself, your friend or some inanimate object. If it could be hurled, tossed, thrown, climbed on, jumped over, dropped or hit, it was a job for StuntMan. This particular episode of Stuntman called for the heroes to head straight for a new pallet of bricks. Just before impact we are to leap from the wagon and clear all the bricks. One tiny mistake and ‘BAM!’ we are either thrust straight into the bricks or ‘THUD!’ land on top of the bricks.

“3……2……1……go!”

This time we get it right. My new and now scuffed ‘Buddies’ help me push all the way down both driveways. However, trying to make sure he had all the momentum he could get, I give a final lunging push that throws me off balance and sends me once again tumbling onto the pavement tearing skin and brown polyester clothing alike. Alex fared even worse. He wasn’t expecting that final push, so his timing was off. Instead of jumping over the bricks, he looked as if he was standing up just in time to have the bricks cut his legs out from under him. This called for more discussion. Lesson learned: don’t improvise at the last minute. Stick to the game plan.

“3……2……1…….go!”

It was my turn. Alex is shorter than me so he was able to get behind me and push more forward and less downward. I can feel the wheels shimmying side to side as I pick up speed. It really gets nerve-wracking as I approach the launch point. Wait for it…Wait for it……Jump! Dag! Too early. I land right on top of the bricks with a breathtaking UGHN! and roll off the back of the pallet. Lesson learned: Patience is a virtue. Wait until the last second.

3……2……1……go!

After 3 or 4 hours of perfecting our form we headed back to the house for some much needed Kool-Aid and cookies. It was never our intention to cause any property damage. I mean, Hell they’re bricks! It never crossed our minds that we could possibly hurt bricks with a metal red wagon.

Apparently later that evening Alex’s dad, Art, gets a call from the neighbor trying to figure out how his pallet of new bricks had gotten so chewed up. Alex was shortly thereafter chewed up as well. My dad must have gotten the call following the aforementioned chewing from Art informing him of the days’ events. It sure seemed like the end of the world at the time. I was confined to my room for a week. ( aka no ‘Big Show’ after school and no Scooby-Doo on Saturday ) Alex and I were informed we needed to take a week or two off from each other and StuntMan was to be forgotten about.

The sad truth was that by the time the punishment was over, our undiagnosed ADHD had kicked in. Lesson learned: We heard you can do some really cool things with a can of Lysol and a match…….