Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dangerous Games

If you have read much of what I've written about my childhood, then you already know that I didn't always take the time to think about what I was doing. Many times I only considered whether or not it would be fun. If it seemed like an interesting idea, I didn't stop to consider any of the other ramifications. This can certainly be excused in one's youth, but one is expected to mature and begin to think about what one is doing from a more responsible point of view. I certainly hadn't started to think that way in my late teens, which is when these stories take place. All I can say in my defense is that I know many men who don't think responsibly now. As the old saying goes, “Better late than never.”

Once again these stories are laid out in order of humor, not chronologically. The first story is about Brandyn and myself. I guess it really begins with the fact that I always wanted to learn to fence. That is to say, I always wanted to learn to fight with swords. I also wanted to learn all the other martial arts, from hand to hand combat to archery to shooting to mounted combat, but all those desires have their own stories, and this tale doesn't concern them.

Here I will take the time to point out that I am a self-teacher. When I want to learn how to do something, I consider how it is that people first learned about it and pursue the same course. My brother and I learned to juggle one afternoon simply by thinking about how jugglers looked when they were juggling. In a few hours he and I were standing across the lawn juggling five balls between us (the balls where really unripe figs, but why split hairs). Most of what I know how to do, I've gone out and learned on my own. So, when I wanted to know how to fence, I thought the best course of action was to start fencing.

Joshua and I had gotten some long metal rods from somewhere. I believe they had been part of some big flower arrangement at some time. I can't remember exactly where they were from, but they were round and green, and at the time, I associated them with flower arrangements. The rods had been lying around at my house for some time. We had saved them hoping to find a use for them at some point. The evening finally came when I did find a use for them.

Brandyn was over at the house and we were walking and talking. We had run out of things to do and we were just wandering around the yard. We finally wandered right up on the rods.

“These give me an idea,” I said as I picked one up.

“What's that?” Brandyn asked.

“They are about the size and shape of fencing foils.”

“They're a little short.”

“That's true, and they don't have handles, but I think they would do.”

“For what?”

“For fencing.”

“Alright, let's do it.”

That is the summation of the conversation, as it were. We each grabbed a rod and headed for the front yard. As we stood face-to-face and saluted each other with our make-shift foils, neither of us took the time to consider what could happen. There was one major difference between our rods and real fencing foils: the little button at the end of the blade. That button keeps you from stabbing each other and prevents people from losing eyes. We also didn't take the time to consider the fact that, when most people fence, they wear armor and a face mask.

As soon as we had saluted, the bout began. At first I am sure it would have been wonderful to see. Each of us was very dextrous and lighting fast at that age. For minutes you could have heard the clang of steel on steel, or watched with excitement each thrust and perry. We had seen a lot of movies and, considering the fact that we had never done anything like it before, we did fairly well. However, at last, like so many of our games, it ended in pain.

Brandyn had made a lunge for me. I parried it, but I was in a bad position when I did so. His face was at about the height of my chest, because he had stepped so far forward. When I blocked his attack my foil rolled around his. The very tip of my rod caught him in the face. It made a quick semi-circle and slashed him right under his eye.

“Ahhh!” he screamed as he dropped his weapon.

“Bro, are you OK?!?”

“Yes, but only just!”

I took a look at his face. I had cut him clean, and thankfully it wasn't deep. As we went in for him to wash up, we took the time to consider what would have happened had my rod gone an inch or so higher. It gave me the chills to think about how close I had come to jamming Brandyn's eye out (I know that those of you who have read some of my other tales may be thinking that I had it out for other people's eyes, but that is not the case). That was the end of that particular game. I am happy to say that it also brought playing with long pointed objects to an end. That had been too close. It was truly a life lesson and I took the opportunity to learn from it. I hadn't gained the lesson I was looking for, but once again my actions had taught me something.

The next few stories don't have nearly so much moral to them. I'm not sure there was really much to learn, or if there was, I haven't learned it yet. They are very funny however, and that alone makes them worth preserving. I suppose one could learn a little something from them. If I had to give these stories a moral, it would be something like this: “Don't do things that make you look stupid for fun. If you do, then one of your friends may remember it to his deathbed and tell everyone you ever know about it, right down to your grandchildren.” It's rather a long moral, and I'm not sure Aesop would approve, but it's the best I can do.

These three short tales revolve around something called the “helicopter.” Now, I feel certain that most of you don't know what that is, so I'll take a moment to explain. The “helicopter” is a way of forcing yourself to hyperventilate and thereby pass out. You take ten deep breaths and hold the tenth one as hard as you can. Then one of your friends grabs you and squeezes your ribcage as hard as he can for a few seconds. This will force the pressure up in your lungs, causing more oxygen to dissolve into your bloodstream. At least that was the explanation I was given. The results I can attest to first hand: you pass out.

Why would anyone want to do that? At the moment that seems like a good question, even to me. However, when I was younger the answer was very simple: people do crazy things when they ride the helicopter. I was willing to do it and let everyone laugh at me so that I, in turn, could laugh at them. It may not seem to be a good reason to you, but if it doesn't then you're not thinking like a teenage boy.

I was probably the least interesting of all our old crew. With the exception of Jonathan, I suppose. He would never take the ride. I think thoughts of college and brain damage gave him pause. In any event, my crazy was always just the same. No matter how many times I did it the same thing happened...

“Help me!.... Help me!!.... Help Me!!!... HELP ME!!!!”

You see, I thought was being dragged to my death by some horrible monster. At least that's my theory. I could never remember why I was screaming “Help me!” when I woke up. As soon as I was conscious I would bust out laughing at everyone laughing at me. The reason I believe I must have thought I was being attacked by a monster is because of the only helicopter memory I have. I remember thinking something had bitten me on top of the head and was dragging me around. The helicopter makes your head tingle and I'm sure that was my mind's explanation as to why my head felt funny.

The funniest thing that ever happened with me was in my own bedroom. I had taken the ride and woke up to find Jonathan grabbing me by the back of my head and slamming his hand over my mouth. As soon as he realized I was already conscious, he explained that I had been yelling. At that moment there was a knock on the door.

“Is everything OK?” Mom asked as she look in on the crowd packed in my room.

“Yeah, Mom, everything's fine,” I said, still reeling with dizziness.

“I thought I heard screaming.”

“Oh yeah, we're just playing a game.”

“Yeah, a game! Just a game we were playing. We were just fooling around,” said the boys.

Mom looked at me for a moment and then slowly closed the door. I'm sure she had no idea what we were doing, but I'm also sure she knew it was something strange. Shortly after that happened I gave up riding the helicopter. It got old seeing me scream “Help me!” every single time. For a while the guys hoped I would do something else, but I never did.

Jesse was a different story. Some of you may remember him from my earlier tales: if not I would suggest reading “The Terrorizing of Jesse Dicks” to get acquainted with him. Jesse was hard to knock out. Almost every time he tried to ride he failed. The key with the helicopter is holding your breath until you actually pass out. Jesse almost never managed to do that. Instead he would hold it until he almost passed out and then sit down on the floor and complain about his head feeling funny.

Not being one to give up, Jesse got in line for the ride with the rest of us one night. Up to that point he had never been knocked out. The fun with watching Jesse do it was hearing him complain when he failed. He took ten deep breaths. He held the last one as Josh picked him up from behind and squeezed his ribs as hard as he could. Josh held him up for a reasonable amount of time, but Jesse didn't black out. So, Josh set him down on the floor. When his feet touched the floor Jesse let his breath go and stood there.

Normally at this point Jesse would sit down and start complaining. This time, however, he just stood there.

“Jesse, are you all right, bro?” my brother asked, looking Jesse in the face.

Jesse nodded slowly in reply.

“You're sure you're OK?”

Jesse didn't answer, he just started to walk slowly around the room. With each step he took, he crouched a bit lower, until he was walking along slowly bent over at half height. Now, this didn't seem normal, and we all started calling his name and asking him if he was alright. He didn't answer, he just took one crouching step after another. When he ended up back where he had started, he reached his arms out and put them around my brother's waist. He pulled Josh right up to his crouching form.

“Whoa! You alright there, bro?!” Josh asked, trying to pull away.

That seemed to wake Jesse up. I actually saw the light of understanding flicker on in his eyes. He looked at all of us staring at him and then looked Josh right in the jeans. As soon as he realized what he was doing he jerked back and stood up.

“What did I do?!?” he yelled.

In reply we burst out laughing. After a few moments we were actually able to tell him what he had done, while I reenacted it with tears streaming down my face.

It had been hard to get Jesse there, but it was worth it once he was. Brandyn, on the other hand, was easy to knock out and consistently funny. However, since his story has to go up against Jesse's, I'm going to relate his best one.

Brandyn almost always passed out. Everyone would fail once in a while. It took a great deal of concentration and determination not to breathe out before you passed out, but Brandyn was very good at it. He took his breaths and held on tight. Josh grabbed him and tried to squeeze the consciousness right out of him. Brandyn didn't let go of his breath and Josh finally had to set him down.

“You alright?” Josh asked while helping hold Brandyn up.


“You sure?”


Brandyn was still swaying side to side, but Josh figured he had to be OK and probably just needed a moment. He let Brandyn's arm go and stepped back. Brandyn stood there swaying for a moment and then collapsed like a sack of potatoes. He fell straight back before any of us could catch him. When his head slammed into the floor it woke him up. Since he wasn't sure how he had gotten laid out on the floor, he went to get up as fast as he could.

The first step in the process, of course, is to sit up. He sat up with every ounce of force in his body. In fact his head came flying up off the floor at roughly the speed of sound. That turned out to be unfortunate because, as he was still dizzy, of course, he swayed. The result was that he slammed his head into the corner of my very solid wooden headboard just as hard as he could. He sat there for a moment with his eyes spinning, and then dropped his head back on the floor at full force. He had hit himself in the head so hard that it had knocked him out.

However, when his head slapped the floor for the second time, it again woke him up. He moaned for a moment before he looked up at us with daggers in his eyes.

“OK! Which one of you punched me in the head? I saw you do it!!”

That was enough for us. We realized that Brandyn was OK and all laughed until we were about to cry. Finally we were able to tell him the story without laughing until we couldn't talk any more. Brandyn was a good sport and joined in the laughter, even with the giant knot on his head.

I think most young men play one kind of dangerous game or another. I am glad to say that none of ours left any permanent damage, except for scars that make interesting conversation pieces. We still play games, but they are now mainly of the video variety. I am older and, I hope, wiser. Still, it makes me laugh to think back on the things we did. I hope you were able to share that laughter with me.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dear
    I am also a great fan of Playing these kind of dangerous game.At that time i felt that daring is not to tell,it is to show.And we enjoy the game with taking the risk.
    Play Shooting Games