In case you are thinking that this number is an over-the-span-of-my life number, it is not. I rack up the numbers to 1000, and then I start the cycle over again. I haven’t kept track of the number of 1000s that have accumulated. It didn’t seem feasible, and certainly not something I want to have locked in my memory, over and over.
This time the episode of stupidity occurred in St. Louis, Missouri. It must be stated before admitting to this act, that I was in an altered state of mind, and may not have been totally responsible for a lapse in judgment.
No, not that type of altered state which some of you may be conjuring in your own minds. My husband John, son JK, daughter Christina, and Myself had come from distant points in the U.S. to Illinois; my mother was dying, and we were there to say good-bye to her, and then bury her. We spent untold hours in her home, looking for photographs and nostalgic items that had value only to us.
We drove down to St. Louis the day before our flights back to our home. Only a few hours remained in the afternoon, so JK suggested we visit a museum he had heard about: The City Museum. It sounded good, going to a quiet museum, looking at old photos, bones of bison, reading about local heroes, and such. Quiet, calm, meditative—it sounded good to me.
With directions, we drove into a desperate part of St. Louis. It once had been a thriving industrial area, where all sorts of goods were made, and then shipped out on train or along the Mississippi River to parts unknown. Shoes, buttons, linens, lace—you name it, and it was once a product made there. There were big brick buildings, maybe ten stories or more, with blank dusty windows lined up blindly on the walls. Most were now silent, excepting this one building now converted to a museum: The City Museum.
It wasn’t what I expected. Some brilliant artist/architect with massive money and effort had transformed this rectangular brick block into an amazing play ground, inside and out. He used repurposed industrial materials, tons of gears and marbles, old rollers, and whatever else you can think up. From these, he fashioned a fantasy land in which a full size white whale with gaping mouth silently invited exploration. Dinosaurs, tunnels made from industrial rebar, child-sized caves and slides wove in and out on each other. Just when one might think he was lost, an employee stood sentry, keeping vigilance on this miraculous castle.
So, you might ask, “What did you do that was so stupid?” This: We climbed up a wildly winding staircase, from which different landings extended to floor waiting for more exploration. But, we stayed on the staircase, going up and up, until we climbed ten stories. Now, I was fine with this climb. No problem going up, but my knees hate the climbing down.
When we reached the tenth floor, we were at our destination: the slick steel slide down seven stories. It was a tube, with open rebar curved over the top, and the steel inviting ones’ buttocks to take a chance. Here is where the stupidity part happened.
Deep inside, I heard the caution voice, but I said, “Heck, why not? Why not, indeed?” So, when my turn came, I sat my own buttocks on the slide and let go.
The slide was slick and it was fast. Instinctively my hands tried to grab onto the rebar sides, and I caught a finger on each hand. Not caught, but snagged, and I immediately pulled my hands onto my chest. Then, my buttocks were going up the left side on a right curve, so my right foot instinctively reached out to slow my descent. The rubber sole heel held a moment too long, and my right leg torqued, twisting my right ankle and causing my knee to complain in silent but insistent throbs.
I immediately gave into the slide’s will, crossing my feet, and lying down, “Slide, Slide, do what you will.” When I reached the bottom, my laughing grown children were there to pull me up and away from my husband, who came down with his tennis shoes smoking, after using them as brakes all the way down. Not really, but it is a fitting image.
That night, I iced my ankle and knee, discovering that I had friction burns on both elbows, and a red streak on my back, where my shirt had ridden up along the wild ride. Since that day, I have dealt with different pains in my fingers, knee, and ankle. Yes, #347, I was stupid, but it was worth it, every bit of it.
Stupid things: #347
April 13, 2011