The Human Need for Stupid Stunts

Bernie and I were both 17 years old. He was a couple of months older than I was, and we were close pals. In fact, our steady girlfriends were identical twins, one with him and one with me. We eventually married the twins, but that’s another story.

One night, Bernie and I went out to the quiet, wide highway 400 to do a stupid stunt. It was in the 1950s, when cars were huge. I was driving my father’s massive, cream coloured ’57 Buick Roadmaster. Bernie was driving his Aunt Lillian’s dark blue ‘53 Cadillac Coup de Ville. We roared up the empty highway at 3:30 one morning. We went side by side, Bernie on my left, me on his right. I powered down my window as did Bernie’s then girlfriend, and I reached to her and she took my hand. We roared up the road at about 100 miles an hour (160 km/h), two feet apart, holding hands, for no reason except the big V8 engines could do it.

The drive for stupid stunts must be quite strong in some people’s DNA.

In Toronto and Montreal, and perhaps other cities with subways, young people leap onto the exterior of the subway car and cling to the side as the train roars through the dark tunnels. I haven’t heard if anyone’s been killed or injured yet, but it is inevitable. Why do they do it? Perhaps they believe they’re showing courage and skill, although it’s actually reckless and foolish.

We scuba dive amid predators; we race cars; we ride motorcycles across deserts; we sail boats across oceans, for sport. Some of us need the challenge, the risk, the adrenaline dose that comes with pressure or anxiety.

I’ve done a good deal of auto racing, and ridden some motorcycles, and even did a fair amount of hang gliding. I enjoyed all of it, although I don’t really know why, except for the ‘stone’ one enjoys when the adrenaline sharpens all the senses. We see better, we hear more acutely, and our bodies feel fit and strong. I now get a good feeling from reading, writing, drawing and commenting on others’ works.

If one lives past the age of reckless foolishness, one learns the value of deeper activities.

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  1. garymagwood
    June 12, 2017 at 2:09 am

    Or you just keep doing reckless foolish things until they pat you in the face with a spade!

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