Saturday, October 15, 2011

WRITING - Being Stupid


What happens to us as we get older? To me it always seemed that people are fun and carefree as children, experiencing some hiccups in high school and college, and then they become fat, ugly, and boring. Naturally I didn't want to experience that change myself, but now at age 30, here I am.

Is it just having more challenging responsibilities? Now I have a job (actually two), a family, and a house. But is it just the weight of those obligations that makes us uninteresting? I don't think so. I know plenty of fun, interesting teachers. I try to hang out with them, but they repeatedly explain to me that I'm simply not cool enough. I understand that there is a coolness gap, but how is it that some adults keep having fun and others like myself lose it? - yes, I was interesting at some time -

A convincing answer: being stupid. You have to do stupid things from time to time, maybe often. As humans, we somehow have a biological/psychological/illogical need to do stupid crap on a regular basis.

When you're a child, you can decide to stand on your head for an afternoon, and no one will disrespect your use of your time. In fact, if you're among other kids, the stunt might make you popular.

This eternal truth came to me after September's writers group in Ellicott City. We had finished the critiques and were heading to Outback for our regular post-meeting snack. I was pulling out of my parking space at the Barnes and Noble when I stopped to see Mabel and Karen looking down at the parking lot paving. The were laughing – giggling! - and bobbing their heads around, linking arms, and half stumbling as if they had instantly become drunk. These gals are 40+ years old and giggling in a parking lot!

There was a praying mantis in the middle of the parking lot, and they wanted to save it. It was smack in the middle of a big parking lot. A big parking lot, from which its car-dodging escape was inconceivable. He needed help, and they wanted to be the ones to extend that helping hand. Yet they didn't want to touch it. Or let its disease-bearing appendages anywhere on them. With their poking towards the ground, spontaneous screaming, and wild laughter, their mix of hesitation and daring was like someone trying to turn on a light by connecting live wires.

                                           sorry - no pic of the epic praying mantis rescue

It was hilarious. Eventually I gave them a piece of paper that they used it to scoop him up so that they could escort him to the shrubs beyond the curb. They must have giggled all the way to the restaurant.

That's when I understood. You just have to do stupid things. Silly things. Things that SHOULD make any normal person look at you askew. The dumber, the better. If you aren't awkwardly rescuing insects from the parking lot, then you're fighting with your spouse or talking behind the back of your co-worker. The stupidity must come out! Therefore, better to have fun with it.

Then while we were waiting for our food at Outback, they kept talking about how they had seen another praying mantis at the main door and wanted to rescue that one, too. I was eventually wondering if they had jointly hallucinated the whole thing from start to finish. Maybe there had never been a praying mantis in the first place! But they were sure having fun.

So to honor the wisdom I saw in those two ladies, I stayed there past my bedtime and then at home stayed up until midnight even though I wake up at 5 every day. Now that was stupid. And as I staggered through the next day, it all made me very happy.