Stupid stuff… We're ALL guilty!

Forrest Gump, a movie character, said, “stupid is as stupid does.” And, like it or not, even by the most liberal of interpretations, people do outlandishly stupid things that span the gambit from the truly benign to the most deadly. The problem is, though, that a growing segment of American society has become too politically correct to label certain actions as STUPID, and it’s a primary reason why many people continue doing stupid stuff!

We’re ALL guilty of doing stupid stuff. I’m exempting adolescents here because doing stupid stuff is part of the job description for them. No, I’m talking about mature adults that we’d assume know better. Sometimes the behavior is horrifically stupid AND deadly. At other times, it’s just puzzling, sometimes comical, but usually embarrassing.

When I was 15-years old, I watched in horror as our certified electrician neighbor, electrocuted himself trying to tighten the wire connections to his outside patio lamp. He didn’t bother to cut the power. A year prior, at the age of 14-years, I walked a 60-foot bridge span, tightrope style, crossing it on the 9-inch wide hand railing. The vertical drop to a paved street below was 50-feet. I did it to win a $20 bet.

“Stupid is as stupid does.” My neighbor did something stupid but, on that day, was unlucky. I did something just as stupid but, on that day, was lucky. Under the best of circumstances, good luck is an integral part of life; but so is bad luck. And still… many of us just love to tempt fate. STUPID!

Thankfully, most of the stupid stuff I’ve done—some of which I’m still doing at 70-years of age—has been benign, sometimes embarrassing, and often downright comical. Here are a few examples.

GOLF! Most Sunday duffers (people who THINK they have a right to be on a golf course with those who actually know how to play the game) not only do stupid stuff; they’re insane by Einstein’s definition of the term: repeatedly doing the same thing while expecting different results. And, I’ve been at the top of their honor roll for years.

I’ve hacked my way around myriad courses for years, terrorizing many a worm with hits that never climbed much higher than about two inches above the ground. At my peak—and it took several years to reach it—I had a handicap of about 25-strokes. But, being the die-hard that I was, I could never quite shake the notion that I was only a lesson or two away from making it to the PGA Tour. “Stupid is as stupid does.”

For example, whenever Jack Nicklaus or Lee Trevino (YES… I’m OLD) needed to hit a shot 150-yards to clear a green-side water hazard, they had to make a choice. Under normal playing conditions, they could choose to hit either a full (full swing) wedge shot or an easy (less than full swing) 9-iron shot. Either way, they’d always land on the green facing a possible birdie putt (1-under par).

Of course, in my fantasy world, I always believed that I had the same choice. I didn’t, though. MY choice was to play a full 7-iron or play two balls. The reason my choice was different from theirs was that I was NOT either of them. If I didn’t use the higher club, my first ball ended up at the bottom of the water hazard.

Over the years, I figure my refusal to face such golf facts has cost me a couple of thousand dollars in balls alone. “Stupid is as stupid does.”

And, another thing I always “believed” I could do, but couldn’t, was put “fade” (for a right-hander, the ball starts straight and fades right) or “draw” (starts straight and draws left). MY “fades” and “draws” were unplanned and ALWAYS opposite to what I needed.

Regardless, I never lost confidence in my imaginary innate golfing prowess. I’d play most of my round of golf unable to hit a single fairway—even if it was two miles wide and I was only ten feet away! Yet, somehow, I knew that I’d be able to clear a ball from ankle-deep rough using a 5-iron.

All I’d have to do is sail the ball STRAIGHT to a distance of about 120-yards so that it would go between two overhanging tree branches with no more than 8-inches of clearance, AND with enough “fade” on the ball to land it in the middle of the fairway just in front of the green. “Stupid is as stupid does.”

I’ve also skydived most of my life. I did my first jump at 18-years of age. During my younger years (18 to about 50-years), I’d jump between 5 and 10 times a week. From the age of 50 to roughly 65-years, the number of jumps dropped to about 10-times a year. I made four jumps in one day as recently as 3-weeks ago. And, I’ll do a few more before I die.

Most of the people that know I jump out of perfectly good airplanes think it is stupidity personified. I don’t, although I’ll admit that skydiving is NOT for everybody. It is NOT, for example, for SANE people. But, for us loonies, it’s second only to sex. And, since I’m at the age where having sex is like trying to shoot pool with a piece of rope…

It’s not ALL stupidity for the masses, though. Those able to accept the fact of their fallibility can learn NOT to be stupid ALL of the time. For example, never permit others to rope you into arguments over religion. The same is true of politics. And, per Dear Abby, “Never accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you’re a wonderful person.”

Religion is faith-based—beyond the realm of scientific rationalism. Therefore, it warrants neither denunciation nor defense. To believers, for example, miracles come from God. To atheists, they are propitious accidents with natural causes too complicated for full contemporary understanding.

As for politics, politicians have naturally immense egos varnished with multiple coats of modesty and cordiality to produce pleasing exteriors. As well, the astute ones have long known that just making stuff up is the most efficient way to deliver information that few of us, if any, understand or even want to hear about.

If no real problems exist, they’ll make some up, accuse their opponents of doing nothing, and promise to fix things. They’ll use some catchy slogan and a plethora of buzzwords because many of us prefer them to real, achievable solutions. “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Finally, with age comes some degree of wisdom. FULLY understanding a little bit about a FEW important things is better than fully misunderstanding a LOT about EVERYTHING. Unfortunately, those members of the latter category usually have no clue as to their cluelessness.

BEWARE! The luck of staying healthy while aging is not a defacto path to patience and wisdom. My kids think I’m a lot smarter and patient now than when THEY were kids. But I’m neither. They’re older now, and THEY have grown smarter; however, I fear they’re still dumb enough to mistake a lack of pep for patience!

Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.

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