Memories of a Childhood Moron

Posts tagged ‘humor’

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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The Kickoff

It was in the Fall of 1973 that I started my football career with the Cowboys. Being a Cowboy was all that mattered.

We had to practice for about 3 weeks before we could eventually play our first game. Before that we had to get fitted for our uniforms. It was a very sophisticated process. Line up in single file and wait for your turn. When they finally got to you, you get to step into a cinder block outhouse that smelled of sweat, mold and decay and they thrust your equipment at you. So much for ‘fitting’. Before you could set foot on the field, you had to have a mouthpiece. To properly fit a mouthpiece you had to boil the plastic guard for 3 minutes and then place the lava-like piece directly into your mouth and bite down. Gradually over the next couple of days you would regain your sense of taste.

After 3 weeks it’s finally time for the opening game of the year. We lost the pre-game toss so we were going to kick off first. I was lined up on the outside of the line. I loved wearing the uniform, in spite of the musty sweaty smell that crept up from my shoulder pads. I start rolling my head a little for the last time to make sure I was good and loose and could ‘keep my head on a swivel’ so no one could blind side me.

The kicker is setting the ball on the tee. One final scan of the crowd and I can see my Mom in the stands. Her last words to me ( God knows what she has said to my Dad ) were to be safe.

“Mom this is football!’ You just have to worry about the other guy.” was my quick retort.

She is sitting on the third row, on the edge of the what can only be described as a spotlight effect from the bug engulfed field lights. My Dad was on the sidelines with the rest of the coaching staff. He certainly wasn’t going to be far from the action.

The ref blows his whistle. The kickers’ hand is raised high in the air to signal the beginning of the first attack. There is an almost reverential silence. Then the other ten of us on the line start hitting our thigh pads. War drums, if you will, giving the Vikings ample notice of our presence on the field. Rat a ta tat a ta tat a ta tat.

Then the kicker takes off towards the ball. We wait a split-second later to make sure we aren’t off sides. Then……….we’re off. Eleven 7 and 8 year old boys take off to tear the head off the poor kid that decides to pick up the ball.

“Stay in your lane!” my father yells. “Turn him inside where your help is!”

I am screaming on my way down the field. Arms and legs pumping in unison with a purpose. The 3 weeks of practice leading up this finally worth it. All the legs lifts, push ups, laps, walking through the plays to make sure we knew our assignments were about to pay off. Two kids come up to block me, but only give a half-hearted shrug. That’s no way to block! It must be the sheer determination on my face, striking fear in their very soul that is giving them pause.

Crap! The chicken is headed the other direction. Our first guy missed him, but there were 3 more to bring his jaunt to a quick end. Even though I wasn’t in on the play, I had already established my presence on the field. They knew I would be there all day.

~~

The next Saturday morning we were to meet at 09:00 as a team to watch game film. We all crowded in the Living Room of Lamar McNeil’s house to see how good we looked. His dad was the head coach and actually had a movie camera. At first I was a little miffed that I wouldn’t get to see Scooby-Doo, but I quickly got over that as they started setting up the projector. The lights go out and the projector lights up the screen on the far wall. All that can be heard is the tick, tick, tick of the projector. I think this must be exactly like the pros do it.

We then see a few wormy squiggles dart up and down the screen. The cameraman had positioned himself where he could look straight down the line of kids getting ready to take off after the ball. I can almost hear the refs whistle blow. The kicker’s hand is raised high, you can see us drumming on our thigh pads. Everyone is silent awaiting the kickoff. The kicker drops his hand quickly and runs toward the ball. We are starting just after him. I am front and center on the screen. There I go……

“Dag! Look at Hanson’s head! It’s wobbling all over the place! “

“What’s wrong with his neck?”

“Look at his arms and legs. Where did you learn to run like that?”

“It looks like he has to take a crap! Why are you making THAT face?

Sure enough I looked like a freaky marionette in the hands of some demented puppeteer. Legs flailing, arms gyrating in an inexplicable manner. And my neck looked to be about a foot long. My fierce warrior’s face looked much more akin to that of someone being chased by a pack of wild hyenas. Either that or it really did look like I was rushing away to take a crap. No wonder the blockers kept their distance. They must have thought I was rabid. All I could think about was maybe they wouldn’t notice if I climbed behind the brown and white Colonial motif couch and died

“Quiet, focus on the game! Maybe next time you won’t miss your tackle!”

Thanks coach. That will shut at least one of them up. Sure enough our, as of then undiagnosed, ADHD had kicked in and they started razzing the kid who missed the tackle. My shame had been short lived.

I never did make it to pro sports. Hell, I had quit football, basketball and baseball before my senior year in high school. But I still go back to the ’70’s whenever I go to a football game. The bugs swarming the field lights. The smell of the hotdogs and popcorn in the air. Anxious mothers and proud fathers hoping their kid will be the next whoever and still come home in one piece. There is just something magical about it.

I learned over time to use my awkwardness to my advantage. I could do stupid things to make people laugh. I didn’t have the skill set needed to be a superstar in sports, but I could make funny faces or walk funny or say stupid things to get some attention for myself. I had found my niche. And while I never made it to the NFL, I was proud that eventually my moves would make it, in the persona of Merton Hanks. For those of you not familiar with who this is, I have added the link to a video for your viewing pleasure.

Top Ten Reasons to Become a Writer (via Kristen Lamb’s Blog)

I know this is a cheap way to go about posting this week but everybody who knows me knows that I am a true cheapskate.  While on my adventure to become a writer I have happened upon a wonderful blog site.

I was reading Kristen’s advice on novel beginnings and saw this entry. It is very humorous and seems to hit a strong chord with her faithful followers of which I now include myself.    Please check out this blog and I will be posting original content very soon.

Nub,

C

Top Ten Reasons to Become a Writer Today is Free-for-All-Friday, and thus is my choice. I was skimming through some earlier posts and came across this one…that cracks me up even now. So, I thought I would post again for the benefit of the newbies and to give my loyal followers a good laugh. Come on, you know this still makes you laugh. “Easily amused” falls in the writer job description, right? I still remember the day I told my family I was leaving corporate sales to become a w … Read More

via Kristen Lamb’s Blog