The stupid things we do

For years I have cut the cheese with reckless abandon. My wife has often admonished me that if I continued to carelessly cut the cheese, I would eventually hurt someone and earlier this week it finally happened. I was attempting to remove the rind from a block of aged Gouda while keeping one eye on the football game on TV; the knife slipped, and I cut an impressive slice into my left index finger. Wait … what did you think I meant by cutting the cheese? Come on, grow up!

There was a lot of bleeding, some screaming and a little talk of emergency rooms and stitches, but the game was still on so I told her to calm down; then I rubbed a little dirt on it and walked it off. OK, so it was really me screaming while she washed and bandaged my finger and promising me that I could still eat cheese and watch football if I would quit asking her to take me to the ER. Rubbing dirt on it, though, sounded more manly.

The truth is I’m wearing a band aid on my finger because I did something stupid. I know better than to cut toward my other hand but I did it anyway and paid the price. As hard as it may be to believe, this isn’t the first time I’ve done something stupid (no … really it’s not) and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

The truth is that I have an impressive record of doing really stupid stuff and, while I usually pay the price for it, I have managed to survive. I think everyone does something stupid from time to time but some of us seem to have an aptitude for it. My wife rarely makes a stupid move but she has a real aptitude for recognizing and pointing out mine; then again she did marry me and she’s still paying for that stupid move!

My record of doing stupid things is long and distinguished (this is an inappropriate forum for the joke that obviously fits here, so please insert your own.) When I was 12 years old, my friends and I came upon a small herd of wild horses and I decided to jump onto one of them to impress my buddies with my bareback bronco riding skills. The horse lay down and started rolling over to get me off its back then bit me on the butt. Classic stupid!

I did so many stupid things as a teenager that it would be impossible to list them but the shenanigans I pulled in December of 1974 deserve special recognition. I was 17 years old with $200 to my name; I got married on Christmas Eve then drove a VW Beatle across the snow covered Rockies without snow tires or even a road map. That was so stupid … getting married on Christmas Eve was so moronic!

In the decades that followed I continued to do stupid things and, like this cut on my finger, they usually left a mark. I had a short but painful rugby career, I bet an Australian sailor that I could down a yard of ale quicker than he could, I ran 20 miles in Mississippi in late July, I ate kimchi in Korea and ordered the spicy fish dinner in Thailand. All monumentally stupid moves and all came with a painful price.

I once beckoned my wife in a restaurant by snapping my fingers and whistling to get her attention. To call that a big mistake would be like calling WWII an international dispute; it was a huge mistake. That was 28 years, three months and two days ago, and I’m still feeling the pain from that one.

I’m pretty sure that everyone pays the price for the stupid things they do but some folks seem hesitant to admit it. Take it from an expert, that’s a stupid move. It’s been my experience that stupid hurts but the sooner you find the humor in your own buffoonery the sooner it the pain goes away.

It’s been famously said that you can’t fix stupid but sometimes I wonder if we should even try. People do stupid thing, its part of our charm. Eventually each physical or emotional scar will remind you of a funny story you can tell about the time you did something stupid that left a mark.

That reminds me; did I ever tell you about the time I was cutting the cheese …?

Rick Seley is an award-winning humor columnist. He may be reached at


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