Dazed and Confused

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 11, 1999

By LEE DRESSELHAUS / L’Observateur / Febuary 11, 1999

So….I was watching television this past weekend and, while I was doingmy usual thumb exercises that involve the remote, I came across a sports program that made me sit up and take notice. Well, I didn’t really sit up.I’ve finally gotten a very comfortable depression imprinted in my sofa that’s just my size and I really, really hate to move from it once I’m planted there. By the way, have you ever noticed that you can actuallymemorize the button placement on a remote control? At least I have. I canchange channels, control volume and check the time and date without once glancing at the device. It’s a guy thing, my wife assures me. I consider itan essential male skill, like being able to clean your rifle blindfolded when you’re in the army. Anyway, between scanning channels and assuringmy wife that the yard work would get done today, I promise, I promise, I found this program and it was about, of all things, bungee jumping.

Having a highly developed instinct for self preservation, I find it truly astonishing that somebody would do this. First off, I hate heights. I don’teven like being this tall. Gravity is one law that requires absolutely nostudying, and one that I avoid breaking to the best of my ability. Thesepeople, on the other hand, totally disregard the dictates of self preservation as well as the dictates of common sense and jump (voluntarily, too!) from tall towers and bridges with a big rubber band around their ankles! I find the very concept of this staggering, not to mention idiotic, but what I find truly beyond belief is this one simple thing: Somebody had to be the one to try it first.

How in the world did this happen? Did a bunch of guys get drunk and talk some brain donor into doing this for the very first time? ( Come on, Bill, this’ll work, I’m tellin’ ya. Trust me. ) I’m convinced that whoever did thisfirst had to have been drunk or had to have been dabbling in pharmaceutical sampling. No sane, sober individual would say to himself,hey, let me tie this big rubber band around my ankles and jump from this bridge and hope that the thing will stop me before I smash – head first – into the rocky ground below. Sorry, but you’d have to throw me off,kicking and screaming and pleading for mercy the whole way.

We get so used to certain forms of bizarre behavior that we never stop to think that somebody had to be the first to try this stuff. And I would liketo go on record as saying that I firmly believe that the most often used last statement in the history of the human race is “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing.” Starting with Glug the caveman. ” Hey, Glug, I wouldn’tmess with that cave bear.” To which Glug replied, “Don’t worry, I knowwhat I’m doing. Trust me,” and fifty thousand years later somearchaeologist digs up Glug’s shattered bones and writes a thesis to prove that primitive man was clearly one with the environment.

And in the spirit of whichever maniac first tried the bungee jumping thing, I would like to list a few other things that we have gotten used to, ( and some that we haven’t and, hopefully, never will get used to ) but which really are quite bizarre, and when you think about it….somebody hadto be The First Guy on all of these. Such as:Smoking. Yeah, smoking. Have you ever considered what a bizarre thingsmoking really is? Who was the first individual to decide that sucking the harsh, toxic smoke from burning leaves into your lungs was a good thing? What could this guy have been thinking? To top that off, other people standing around watching The First Guy coughing and retching his lungs out said, “Oooooo, lemme try that,” and it actually caught on.

Acupuncture. So you say you have a headache? Let me stick these needlesin your head. You’ll feel better. I promise. Trust me. And then The First Guysaid, sure. It had to have been a practical joke. “Hey, guys, I told him if helet me stick needles in his head he’d feel better and he let me! Look!” But The First Guy, in order not to feel like such an imbecile, went around and told everybody how well it worked and it, too, caught on. Whether it worksor not is really a moot point, because if you lie there and let somebody stick needles in you and then you actually pay them for it, you’ll tell everybody it worked too, just like The First Guy.

And finally, toad licking. That’s right, toad licking. I recently read anarticle that said there is a certain type of toad that secretes a toxin that, when you lick it directly from the toad, produces an hallucinagenic high like LSD. Drug enforcement gurus are apparently concerned about this newform of drug abuse. (I don’t think it’ll catch on.) Now, putting aside theobvious fact that most of us would only lick a toad, any toad, at gunpoint I would like to know just who was The First Guy on this one? And why did he do it? Where did he get the idea? And how did anybody else find out about it? Because, if I did happen to lick a toad I would take that secret with me to the grave. Nobody, but nobody would ever, ever know about thatone.

So take a look around. We, as a species in general, do some really weirdstuff that we get used to and gradually accept as normal, like the Hansons and the Spice Girls. But now I have to go do that yard work that I promisedI’d get done yesterday. After I change the mower blade. Don’t worry. I know what I’m doing. Trust me.

Copyright © 1998, Wick Communications, Inc.

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