Suggested Audio Jukebox ♬
 Alvin & The Chipmunks Hey Stoopid
 The Prodigy Firestarter
 Frank Zappa Dumb All Over
 Shakin’ Stevens This Ole House
 The Primitives Crash
 Steppenwolf Born To Be Wild
 The Offspring Million Miles Away
 Thomas Dolby She Blinded Me With Science
Stupidity is a disease that afflicts us all at one point or another. I know I should probably speak for myself and believe me, by the time I’ve finished this communication, you’ll wonder how I ever made it to my forties. But none of us are immune to those empty-headed moments, no matter how cool we like to play things. Given that I enjoy nothing more than self-effacing, I’m only too happy to celebrate my own ridiculousness at every opportunity and wear my dumb-ass badge with great honor. Life can be a bitch in heels on occasion and, if you can’t laugh at yourself, then you’re going to struggle finding anything else even vaguely amusing. I perfected this art some time ago and have a lifetime of experience to draw from. Thus I have decided to cast my mind back over just a handful of half-witted instances from my shady past and will do so with considerable affection. Needless to say there are plenty of fruitless follies that I would recommend not to try at home and I’d like to remind you all that I’m a trained professional. You see, if stupid is as stupid does, then I is one stupid motherfucker.
Right then, let’s get down to beeswax shall we? I feel it would be wise to ease us in with a couple of minor indiscretions before going to town and it just so happens that I was a moron in training from a very young age so this should prove a cinch. Interestingly, I made it through the first ten years or so of my existence with a bare minimum of folly and there’s very little I can call upon from that period that would classify as scatterbrained. However, after such a lean opening spell, I was desperate to make up for it and feel that I achieved this in some style as adolescence began to beckon. Suddenly the wheels came off the cart and hare-brained endeavor became my number one pastime. Most idiots in training start small just to test the water some but I never was one for doing things in half measures and hit the ground stumbling with a spot of involuntary arson as you do. You don’t? Well I did and became a fully fledged firestarter in the process. How’s that for an entrance?
Given that this was my primary introduction to stupidity, I decided to recruit myself some fellow morons and the three of us headed off to a nearby liquor store that had closed down months prior. To access this dilapidated palace, we were required to squeeze through a small opening barely large enough to fit a big-boned squirrel and this presented quite the challenge. That said, once we’d infiltrated the building, it was the ideal place to set up camp and we did so with a great sense of purpose. My comrades cleared a space for our office of administration and commenced with spring cleaning while I dashed back home and snatched my mother’s cook’s matches to light some of the many discarded candles we happened across inside. Light was at a premium and there was no electricity to fall back on so we improvised and felt quite the clever dicks for overcoming out first obstacle with such ruthless efficiency. All was going decidedly well for around forty-five seconds which was the time it took for me to learn the meaning of the word clusterfuck.
Trust me to pick the most top-heavy candle in the crate. As you can guess, it toppled over almost instantly and began a small blaze while we flapped our wings like frantic ospreys and came out with such zippy one-liners as “Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!” hoping that our deity was about to bail us out. Regrettably divine intervention was not forthcoming so it was required for one of us to take matters into his own hands. Up stepped Richard Charles Stevens, keeper of the camp, and elected defender of the realm to save our blushes and I did so by calling on that common sense stuff that my mother had told me all about. Unless my youth to this point had been wasteful, fire couldn’t hope to flourish when doused with fluid and a run down liquor store certainly has no shortage of that. Grabbing the very first bottle that came to hand, a vintage tipple to my recollection, I frantically popped the cork and began pouring its contents all over the naked flame. Had I been aware that alcohol tends to excite combustion, then perhaps I wouldn’t have been so hasty but feel that school curriculum should shoulder some of the blame for failing to keep me in the loop about flammable liquids.
What could possibly be more unruly than a dancing flame? The answer is an inebriated dancing flame and around thirty of its similarly wasted friends, all of whom appeared to be partaking in some kind of mesmerizing pagan ritual. Fortunately, I had viewed The Wicker Man mere weeks ago, and was mindful of how things turned out for Edward Woodward. It was here that good old ingenuity kicked in, a tad tardy if has to be said, and I calculated the odds of survival to around 1,000-1 if we didn’t get a wriggle on and evacuate this towering inferno pronto. My pals didn’t take much convincing and the three of us hauled ass in record times, scuttling from the blast zone and straight towards the nearby fire station to report our mild gaffe. Naturally the facts were changed to “we were just passing guv’nor” and it mattered not at the time as the blaze was priority one of one. After a bruising ten-minute skirmish, the firemen managed to tame this beast, and we vacated the scene feeling like hollow heroes.
We only made it about fifty yards before a squad car flagged us down and, while the fire service had found our story plausible enough, this particular flatfoot smelt a trio of rats and decided to place the fear of God into us. He wasn’t falling for our tall tale for a solitary picosecond and made it abundantly clear that he knew that we knew that he knew. We just knew. To rub rock salts into the slug’s sunburned shoulders, he proposed a home visit for each of us at undisclosed times over the next few days and we knew precisely what this meant. Please no…anything but…THE PARENTS! To call the next seven days excruciating would be doing it an injustice I feel as I spent the entire time running errands for my folks in an attempt at positioning myself squarely in their good books before judgement day cometh. To my astonishment and tremendous relief, that day never cometh and it been a ruse to keep us on our toes. However, my days as a firestarter were over, and I pledged to learn a vital lesson from my time as an involuntary arsonist. No more stupidity from hereon in. Simple.
In theory this may have appeared elementary but it was the practise part where this moronic moth came a cropper and it was almost like a flame had been lit beneath me ironically as idiotic behavior pretty became my calling card over the next twelve months or so. Where to even start here? Okay well I guess I should alleviate myself of any minor foibles first and move onto the real humdingers for dramatic effect. Playing the seesaw game with someone of over twice your body mass was a fairly dick move and, while the air I accumulated on the up was something of a nose bleeder, Einstein’s theory proved to be spot on and the down was some way less joyous. Sitting on one’s testicle is no fun, but sitting on one’s testicle in such a manner as to almost burst it in one’s sack is the kind of downer that every Debbie dreads. Mercifully my crushed spud took the hit on the chin and endured impact defiantly. That said, the thing about bollocks, is that they have a habit of passing the buck and the very pit of my stomach soon knew all too well of the incident.
Still smarting from my nutcracker moment, I opted to take the edge off with my very first joint after a friend suggested it would result in mind expansion. Evidently there was plentiful space for growth in my cranium so I granted planning permission and we prepared to roll us a doob. Alas, none of us had the faintest idea what we were smoking or how to construct something of industry standard so we called on our smarts and here’s what mine came up with – Pritt Stick. This dainty little glue stick was the known for being “the ideal clean, quick and accurate way of sticking paper, cardboard and photos” so it seemed like a no-brainer to use this adhesive to secure the rolling papers in place. Not my finest hour it has to be said. You see, while efficient on one hand, once lit the vapors alone would be sufficient to floor an ostrich and it only got worse from there. Turns out that the marijuana my associate had acquired was, in fact, bird seed and the resulting blaze was heady in a whole different way than we’d been expecting.
Long story short, I vomited in a projectile manner and was promptly delivered home to throw up some more. I’ll never forget that evening as I don’t recall ever feeling that utterly nauseous for such a prolonged period and fared that the damage may have been irreversible. It wasn’t and a good night’s sleep soon saw me back to shipshape. However, while not keen to revisit the memory, I couldn’t resist returning to the scene out of a curiosity I could only explain as morbid. Imagine my shock then when I discovered that the pile of blackened chunder I’d exorcised had somehow stained the paving slab indefinitely. Day after day I inspected the splash zone and this inky splat refused to budge. The seasons came and passed with rain, sleet, and snow attempting to fade its majesty but it refused to evanesce until ten years had passed. I may have been stupid, but I’m reasonably assured that I set some kind of record there.
The floodgates were open and, every day, I found new and improved ways to made an absolute plum of myself at every available opportunity. This included trying in vain to impress the ladies with my basketball prowess even though I didn’t possess any and attempting to rotate a ball on my middle digit Globetrotter style only to jar it in its socket. Consequently my finger bloated to the size of an aubergine and I couldn’t pick my nose for a month. Meanwhile, close friendship was blossoming with a fellow numskull and we took it upon ourselves to perform an ancient ritual to cast our lifelong allegiance in stone. Blood brothers to the very end was the plan and would entail a nominal bleed administered by my mother’s kitchen knife. My comrade stepped up first and tentatively carved himself an opening, which proceeded to relinquish just enough coulis to serve its purpose. I then followed but may have been a smidgen heavy-handed when running the blade across my bicep. For the record, I still have the scar tissue now to prove my foolishness, while the pair of us despised each other by the same time the following week.
Curiously, this simmering hatred led to my very next pratfall and this time I did my level best to bring the house down. I’d had quite enough of this irritant and this feeling turned out to be mutual as a minor scuffle broke out between us, in full view of a third-party. The problem was the location we chose for our skirmish as it happened to be the bystander’s attic and hardly the most secure foundations for handbags at ten paces. So it proved as I fell through the ceiling feet first, narrowly escaping a clean drop by grasping the surrounding fixtures for dear life and ending my tail dive in mid-dangle. With the arrival of his parents imminent, panic swiftly set in and the three of us were forced to undergo one helluva damage limitation exercise. In a wisdom far from infinite, I proposed the hoover may provide the answers and we commenced our eleventh hour clean-up post-haste.
Vacuum cleaners are nifty pieces of equipment but don’t seem to hit it off with hefty piles of fiberglass and this particularly antiquated model gave up the ghost with a splutter after around ten seconds of active duty. However, this was little more than a mild distraction from the real lollapalooza staring us dead in the face from above. The gaping chasm I had fashioned in the rafters dead centre of my friend’s bedroom was not the easiest to cover up and the only possible way of achieving this appeared to be concealing the fissure with a massive poster of the man, the myth, the dragon, Bruce Lee. Crisis averted then?
Not exactly as the tremendous weight of expectation was just too much for Bruce and he began sagging the very same evening. Worse still, every eight legged freak in the attic space used this fresh access point to torment the life out of my poor friend who just so happened to suffer from a decidedly acute case of arachnophobia. Funnily enough, his parents never cared for me a great deal after that. Furthermore, I was beginning to develop a complex as, should calamity be lurking in the shadows, then I was odds on to walk directly into it. Something had to be done to stop the rot and I figured maybe I’d stand a better chance of steering clear of faux pas with some handlebars to hang onto for dear life. What a fucking cabbage head. I have no idea what possessed me to come to this conclusion but, after receiving a poor man’s BMX for my birthday, it was time to become a fully fledged budget bandit.
No more than three days after kick starting my new career, I came a cropper and learned a valuable lesson about why it is preferable not to peddle for dear life one-handed. To be fair, I wasn’t showing off and the other was clutching a bag of hamster food but that didn’t make me any less of a knucklehead. As my bicycle began to give way beneath me, I was ejected over the front column and directly towards a nearby curb, hitting it squarely on the bridge of my nose. Astonishingly and despite profuse bleeding, I didn’t break my schnoz. However, warning signs don’t come much clearer that perhaps you and the road aren’t cut out for one another after all. Nevertheless, I refused to accept defeat and, when I eventually came of age, decided it was time to upgrade to a four-wheeled vehicle instead. It didn’t appear too difficult at first and my instructor soon announced that I was ready to take my driving exam so I took his advice and booked one immediately. This was it, I was about to be granted the freedom of the road and never have to rely on public transport again. Or so I thought.
You see, while the odd minor misdemeanor is forgivable under test conditions, hurtling the wrong way down a one-way street generally isn’t. My examiner made it very clear that I had been unsuccessful by screaming “what the hell are you doing, you blazing idiot?” at full decibels and I naturally figured it’d be a case of better off next time. It wasn’t. Neither was it third time lucky or fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh come to think of it. By the time I buckled in for my eighth test, I was all set to throw in the towel. Then something totally unprecedented occurred and I only went and passed the damn thing, with flying colors no less. Utterly galvanized, I ignored every last road safety tip I’d been taught in favor of placing pedal to metal as though I was impervious to carnage. Six weeks this reckless endangerment persisted until I made the almost fatal error of taking my eye off the road just long enough to approach a roundabout at speeds far exceeding the limit and hit it with significant force to effectively fold the chassis pretty much clean in two.
Curiously my passenger was the very same portly fellow whose presence on the business end of the seesaw had very nearly gifted me the undesirable title Richie One Nut and his excess blubber made it touch and go as to whether we’d ever make it back to the repair shop without the buckled front wheels capitulating. By some bizarre twist of fate, we made it although the damage was already done and my automobile was deemed a write-off soon afterwards. Reluctant to let this unfortunate event put me off driving, I was back in the saddle in no time, and made sure to exercise due care and attention from that point forward. Perhaps in hindsight I should have taken the hint as, after a lengthy lay-off, disaster finally came a knocking once more.
This time my stupidity didn’t place myself at risk, but instead, a rather unfortunate morning cyclist. I was running late for work and still only semi-awake so failed to spot that I had gotten a little too close for his own comfort when overtaking him on, you guessed it, a busy roundabout. While no actual contact was made, his equilibrium was soundly compromised, and one check in my rearview mirror confirmed that it wasn’t about to end well for him. Dropping to the asphalt like a bag of sodden feces, he found himself sprawled out uncomfortably in the headlamps of oncoming traffic. There’s a split-second in such instances to make a decision and, considering I was unfashionably tardy for my shift, I opted for the “no harm, no foul” chestnut. After all, my fender was clean, and his fall had occurred after I’d vacated his personal space so that put me in the clear right? My conscience didn’t see it that way and I barely slept for weeks afterwards, which were spent checking the local rags anxiously for breaking news on road casualties. Eventually I began to relax but, to this day, have no idea how that sorry episode panned out.
Karma now had my license plate and my next act of stupidity was undertaken while stationary in a local gas station. I was meeting an acquaintance and had arrived a minute or so early, so left the motor running, and took the chance to kick back a little and enjoy the ambience. Just then, a strange man approached the passenger side window and informed me that my driver’s side wheel required attention. Like an absolute nincompoop I took him on his word and exited the vehicle, only to realize seconds later that I’d been well and truly had over. Not only was the tire pressure of an acceptable standard, but this callous swine had taken the opportunity to slip inside undetected, lock both doors, and take my motorized monster for a nice little P.M. joy ride. This kind of skullduggery wasn’t going down on my shift so I gallantly spread myself across the hood in one final act of misguided bravery/downright stupidity. Naturally nobody else present lifted a solitary finger and, as I stared through the windshield into his blackened eyes, it dawned on me that this was not the time for courage. Thoroughly dejected, I relinquished my grip and watched my ride rev off into the sunset.
Then we have road rage and, while my experience of this unpleasent turn of events is thankfully limited, one time was sufficient to learn never to engage in angry charades with an embittered fellow motorist. To be fair, this shit for brains petrol head was the one in the wrong for attempting an overtake manoeuver when he really shouldn’t have, and I felt more than justified in my decision to offer him an aggravated hand signal as he passed. What I failed to realize were the red lights no more than fifty yards ahead and, as I ground to a hesitant halt, and he stepped out of his vehicle to continue our communication up close and personal, I knew only too well that I had done a wrong ‘un.
I shit you not, he must have been 6″7 and likely the same measurements across, the kind of meathead who could compact me into spam with a well-meaning bear hug. There was nothing whatsoever well-meaning about his approach so I instantly activated full lockdown and sat there cowering while he vented his frustration in a manner that Bruce Banner could have taken tips from. After ripping my wing mirror clean off, he considered us even, and never once have I honked my horn in anger ever since.
With life on the open road proving dicey, I decided to cheer myself up by getting my nipple pierced and soon felt right as rain again. Given that my areola were the size of a newborn’s, I half expected it to hurt like hell and there was no disappointment there I can assure you. For the following week, it wept all manner of gunk and sludge, but I did everything I was instructed to keep it from turning septic and finally it began to look less enraged. You ready for some irony? All was going well until I slid out of my parked car and plucked the ring out on the door frame. The pain was monumental and the shame wasn’t a long behind it as my body began to mutate before my very eyes. Clearly terrified of further misfortune, my nipple took it upon itself to construct its own barricade and this resulted in a small skin sphere which sat vigilant on the tip, making it resemble an Atari joystick. If it had been anyone else’s nip slip, then I’d have doubled over in laughter and brandished the nickname “freak” but, when charity has begun at home, the best thing to do is keep it under wraps until which time as you can get the little bastard lasered off. That was it. No more piercings and no more bloody cars either.
So what did I do? I took up skateboarding. That’s pretty much the mobile equivalent of Sweeney Todd embarking on a new career as a dental hygienist. However, my first divorce had recently finalized, and one of the many stages of grief is to revert back to childhood and act like you’re utterly invincible when you’re quite clearly ready for the emotional scrap heap. I went the whole nine, wore a pair of ridiculous windbreaking denims that could also have accommodated Noodles from The Offspring, hung dozens of pointless chains from my belt, and said stuff like “whoa!” and “gnarly dude” to complete the regression. Navigating my deck didn’t prove too hard and I managed to semi-master the switch technique in no time although that was undoubtedly my finest achievement as kickflips weren’t a realistic goal for one almost entirely lacking in balance. Big air may not have been forthcoming in my lifetime, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t still be a speed demon and I located the ideal downward incline to demonstrate my skateboarding prowess.
I believe I was travelling at approximately the speed of light when my trusty board came down with a sudden attack of wanderlust. It went one way, I went another, and my reward for getting ideas above my station was a grillful of gritty asphalt. Do you know what? I reckon karma had a hand in this one too as I could’ve sworn I spotted a cyclist a few yards away punching the air with delight but that could have just been concussion. However, for as much as my pride had taken a knock, it was my elbow that took the brunt of fate’s fickle finger prod. The joint ballooned until such time as I began to resemble a wonky pterodactyl and, for a month afterwards, looked like I had Barbara Streisand in a head lock. There was plenty gnarly about my brief foray into extreme skateboarding but none more so than my ludicrously oversized elbow. Fuck Tony Hawk. Fuck Rodney Mullen. Fuck Blink 182 and Green Day too. Most of all, fuck absolutely anything with wheels dagnabbit. And don’t even get me started on shopping trolleys as I had a run-in with one of those wayward death traps too come to think of it.
Admittedly this excursion was doomed from the very moment I dropped acid and agreed to play the role of Miss Daisy, while my similarly far out friend chaperoned me around the vicinity. I should have known that the allure of letting go and supplying me with a parting nudge towards a dense congregation of blissfully unaware civilians would prove too burly to withstand and so it turned out as he threw me to the wolves with a playful twinkle in his eye and I torpedoed towards them at full pelt. Once I finally came to a halt, after an impressive 360 degree revolution I hasten to add, I was met by a chorus of stunned silence. This provided me front row seats to the sound of me pissing my own pants as I prepared to pretty much die laughing at my sole expense. I thought retail was supposed to be therapeutic anyhoots.
Time to come clean as I’m starting to run on empty here but fret not as I’ve saved the very best until last. Science left me stone cold during my scholarship if I’m honest and physics lectures were largely spent daydreaming about bearded unicorns, mystical clam shells, and randy whore-pixies in all manner of compromising positions. This one day I became so utterly oblivious to curriculum that I unwittingly unraveled a paper clip and inserted it straight into a live plug socket without having the vaguest concept of what I was doing. No A★’s for working out what came next. You guessed it, it just had to be…
Now luck she be a lady this day and I was spared the indignity of thousands of piledriving death volts stopping my heart right there and then by cautionary circuit breakers the school had in place in the unlikely event of some dick tube inserting an unraveled paper clip into a live plug socket. There was certainly a jolt to the exoskeleton and sufficient enough to leave me resembling Thomas Dolby for a few moments. I flunked physics with the fattest of F’s for the record. While I’ve done some goofy shit in my time, more than your average Homo sapien I’m sure, I believe this particular indiscretion snatches the victory biscuit. Actually it’s more of a mercy macaroon.
Well I’d say that wraps things up rather tidily wouldn’t you? Let’s not twist the nipple ring here, I’m sure there were numerous other asshat instances I could have called upon but time she’s a pressing and the grim realization just dawned that I’ve done some fairly stupid shit over the years. One needs to process such data, remind themselves of their worth, overcome any recurring trauma, and learn to be human once again. If I’m completely honest, aside from almost bagging myself a manslaughter charge for complete lack of road awareness, I wouldn’t do a thing differently if I could go back. I mean, Forrest Gump wasn’t a smart man, but that didn’t stop him doinking Jenny or becoming a ping-pong guru. My momma always said that “stupid is as stupid does” and, if that’s the case, then surely all that remains is to reiterate – I is a stupid motherfucker.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Grueheads Films 2016