When was the last time you felt really stupid? Stupid, as in, "I wish I were invisible." Stupid, as in, "What was I thinking?" Stupid, as in, "I must have been out of my mind." Or stupid, as in, "I didn’t really say that, did I?"
Imagine you’re enjoying evening cocktails around the pool at an elegant estate home. You’re enthralled by the tasteful surroundings, but aghast at the construction of what appears to be an all-concrete, big-box retailer across the street.
A couple wanders up, and to break the conversational ice, you call attention to the jarring dissonance between where you’re standing and the horrific eyesore across the way.
"Oh, that’s our house," says the young wife. "It will look better when the columns go up."
At that moment, you’d rather be at the bottom of the pool. So says a well-known local couple who often tell that story on themselves. Actually, it’s she who tells the story on him.
Dick and Nancy Schulz were once flying to Las Vegas for a meeting. They had a layover in Salt Lake City. He heads for the restroom, and she settles in with her nose in a book, oblivious to anything around her.
When he gets back, he asks when boarding will start.
"I don’t know," she says.
They look up to see their plane pulling away from the gate, with their bags checked through. Stranded, "There was nothing to do but rent a car and drive the six hours to Las Vegas," she says.
They stopped along the way to buy shorts and flip-flops. Nancy calls it "our best trip ever! I’d never have seen Zion National Park otherwise."
Some "stupid" things lead to priceless memories.
Retired flight attendant Linda Shore agrees, but what she now calls a really stupid decision years ago didn’t seem that way at the time.
"The stupid things you do in your twenties aren’t the same as the stupid things you do in your sixties when you might spend all day looking for your glasses when they’re on top of your head," she says with a laugh.
Forty years ago, Shore thought hiking and hitchhiking a 600-mile stretch of the Australian coastline would be a grand adventure, and so she set out, armed with just a rock in a sock for protection.
"But I only had to use it or threaten it twice," she recalls. Once was in a staring match with a sullen steer that was blocking her way. The second was when an outback truck driver who gave her a lift decided to "pursue" her, as she describes it. Her memories are matchless, but she wouldn’t do it again.
Writer P.J. O’Rourke says, "I like to think of my behavior in the sixties as learning experiences. Then again, I like to think of anything stupid I’ve done as a learning experience. It makes me feel less stupid."
Connie Waller once was at a breakfast in Atlanta featuring the governor. After several cups of coffee, she asked directions to the restroom. Entering what she thought was the women’s room, she was irate to find a man at the sink.
"How dare he!" she thought, then backed out the door, only to realize she had misread the Men-Women signs. Swiftly, she looked around to detect any witnesses, but determined she had escaped notice — a close call.
Google "stupid decisions," and you’ll find many that qualify.
For example, Mars, the candy company, passed on the opportunity to make M&M’s the food of choice for a little creature named E.T. back in 1982. Sales of Reece’s Pieces soared when the movie "E.T. The Extraterrestrial" came out. I’d guess somebody got a big fat kick in the pants when that happened — or worse.
The late John Wayne famously said, "Life is tough, but it’s tougher when you’re stupid." He was speaking of me about a week ago.
I was rushing out of the house at 7:30 a.m. and offered Sonny the chance to ride. He hopped in the back seat of my 6-week-old, shiny silver 2013 Prius. About that time, the cat showed up and wanted to go inside. I unlocked the door, put the cat in the house, jumped behind the wheel and threw the car into reverse.
Seconds later came the bone-grinding sound of metal giving way, not unlike what the Titanic must have sounded like as it went down.
My first thought was I’d forgotten to raise the garage door. Mystified, I glanced back and realized I hadn’t closed the back door of the car when the dog jumped in.
The door had caught on the garage door opening, was wrenched backwards hideously out of place, bent in the middle, and couldn’t even be shut.
Forrest Gump’s mom said it best: "Stupid is as stupid does."
Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.