The ten dumbest things I have ever done

The ten dumbest things I have ever done

1. Broke my arm sliding into home plate during a baseball game when I was 14. Yep, this happened. What should have been an easily scored run turned into a play at the plate due to my to-this-day almost inconceivably slow speed while running. As I approached the plate, I dropped down on my butt, put my hands behind me for balance then realized the ball was coming in from the outfield much faster than I had anticipated—the ball was right there. I leaned back to duck the tag and SNAP, hairline fracture in my left radius. I could hardly hear the umpire yell “Safe!” over my screams of agony, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the difference at the end of the game. Adding to the stupidity: I selected purple for the cast color and drew a giant Metallica logo on it when I got home. Then cried because I screwed up the lightning bolt part of the “A” in “Metallica” and my parents (of course) refused to replace the cast because of the expense. Stupid American healthcare system.

2. Had beer thrown in my face at a house party in front of about 100 people. Maybe this has happened to some of you at some point, but not for a reason this idiotic. In college I was heavy and as such, mostly unattractive to the opposite sex. For fun one night, I decided to hit on the hottest girl at the party we were at “just to see what happens.” I thought it would be funny to ask her the old “pizza and a fuck” question. Her response: “Are you kidding me? Get the hell away from me!” Me: “What, you don’t like…fucking?” She laughed a little, but still threw her entire, full beer right in my face—and kicked me in the shin. My friends didn’t stop laughing about it for roughly two years.

3. Gambled and lost without a change of clothes in the vicinity. When I was maybe 24, I stayed the night at a friend’s—as did several others—after a night of drinking. The Vikings game was on the next day and as we all woke up, we slowly, hazily gathered around the TV. As a roomful of hungover twenty-something males is wont to do, we all were belching, farting and the like within a few minutes—wordlessly trying to one-up each other. After a few minutes I said “Oh, heads up!”, farted, and instantly realized I was in trouble. It was more than a fart. After no less than ten minutes of hysterical laughter from everyone (including me), I begged for a change of clothes and use of the washer and dryer. These requests were granted, but I have never lived this down. I don’t see that crowd much anymore, but when I do this incident comes up within minutes.

4. Paid money to see The Shadow in the theater. I’m not sure this needs much more explanation.

5. Accidentally got a guy kicked out of a bar for something I did. I was out with my buddy Sharpe. We always got crazy and drank tequila. (Or was it the other way around?) In any event, I had too much one night and was suddenly vomiting near the server station at Boomtown—this pseudo-dance club in Mankato, Minnesota. I quietly walked away, apparently in the dim light nobody had seen me. A few minutes later, though, a hulking bouncer lumbered my way: “Did you puke over there just now?” he asked, pointing right where I had vomited. “No, not at all,” I said and then out of nowhere, a flash of brilliant idiocy hit me: “I was standing over there a minute ago and I saw the guy who did, though. He had on a black hoodie and a red, backward Yankees hat.” No such man existed, as far as I knew. About two minutes later, though, I saw them hauling a guy out the door wearing the outfit I had described to the bouncer. He was protesting that he had done nothing wrong. He was right, mostly. I ordered more tequila, foolishly.

6. Stole a cell phone from a security guard at Mall of America. When I was in high school, my friends and I hung out at MOA constantly. One Friday on the way out the door, we noticed a cell phone (and in those days cell phones were of the giant, Zach Morris variety) sitting on the ledge while the guard it belonged to was on the other side of the walkway reprimanding some kids. A friend grabbed it and we immediately started making phone calls on it, not realizing they were easily tracked. The phone was shut off within about 30 minutes, but by then we had made about ten phone calls and the Bloomington PD had started calling those numbers, asking questions about recent phone calls they had received. Nobody we called ever admitted giving us up, but one of our friend in our group took the rap for all of us and wouldn’t name who was with him, saying he did it all by himself (honestly, with mentality like that it’s surprising we’re not all in prison.) He got community service and the rest of us got off scott free. My parents still don’t know I did it. Until now, I suppose.

7. Sang “Hungry Like the Wolf” at a friend’s going-away party while being filmed. My friend Sara moved to Tacoma a year and a half ago, but before she did, she had a bash at Grumpy’s downtown where at one point three friends and I christened ourselves the Dong Huffers and participated in Rock Band karaoke with this gem. There’s film of it if you visit my Facebook page and know where to look. It’s four minutes of embarrassment that many have (seriously) hailed as “genius” and “brave.” While that last one may be true, it doesn’t make it any less ridiculous. Everyone else in the “band” looks cool, but it’s mostly because they aren’t singing off-key and mumbling part of the second verse.

8. Wrecked several of my parents’ LPs by sliding them on the kitchen linoleum. This seems horrendous to think about now, but remember this: I was only four. My parents’ stereo was in the dining room right next to the kitchen. They used to let me “look don’t touch” their albums—meaning I could handle them without removing the album itself from the sleeve and I had to be sitting down. But one day my mom got a phone call and the floor was shiny, the records were shiny and chaos reigned. Among the damage: the Beatles’ White Album, Carole King’s Tapestry, a small piece of my mom’s sanity, and one of the records from the Woodstock soundtrack (which I now own and, I must say, doesn’t sound that bad, considering.) Still, though, that White Album was an original pressing and a total loss. When I tell this story in public, the looks on peoples’ faces are priceless.

9. The 311 Incident. I was a graphic design student in college. As such, people assumed I could draw, a fair assumption, except I really couldn’t (which is why I write, with slightly better results, now.) I had a crush on a girl in one of my classes and at the time she loved 311, as did I. So one day I decided I’d draw her a a giant 311 logo and give it to her. It looked great but, stupidly, I also wrote a note on the back about how cool I thought she was, too. She took the (ahem) artwork when I gave it to her and hung it on her wall (I saw it there some weeks later) but she never said a word about the note. Some would say maybe she didn’t notice it, but I’m convinced there’s no way in the course of her taking it home and fastening it to the wall that she didn’t turn it over at some point just to see if anything was on the back. This is the only thing here with no clear conclusion and somehow it’s also the most frighteningly embarrassing because of that fact.

10. Stole a keg. As we were leaving a house party my sophomore year of college, we stumbled upon a full keg near the back edge of the yard near the alley. Only one thing to do, right? My friend Ian grabbed my car keys, and about two minutes later was idling in the alley as three of us loaded it into the hatchback/truck thing of my Merkur XR4Ti (that car is another story). We made some calls and soon we had it at our friend Janna’s submersed in ice in the bathtub. “Free beer!” we said to everyone we called and soon we had a party of our own, but in a college town “free beer” tends to raise a lot of questions and soon the guys at the house we called The Dragonfly, who were coincidentally missing a keg, had an answer to the only question they had: “Who stole our keg?”. I got a call the next day in my dorm room: “Hello?” I said, through a wall of Busch Light hangover haze. “You owe me $40 for that keg, asshole.” the voice replied. “What? Who is this?” I said trying to play dumb. “You heard me, and don’t play dumb, I know it was you—you’re the only one with that stupid-looking car in this entire city.” Shit. Somebody had ratted on us and given out my name and phone number as a possible culprit (they had seen us driving away from the house.) Pair that with the free beer of which we were in possession and it wasn’t rocket science. Each of the four of us who stole it kicked in $10, knocked on the door, handed over the money, were banned from the house and in the end looked like chumps. And we deserved it.

Pat O’Brien

Photo by Fred Scharmen (Creative Commons)