This phrase was popularized in the 1994 Tom Hanks movie “Forrest Gump.” (Great flick, in case you have been living under a rock and have never seen it.)
The definition? A catch-all phrase that basically means that an intelligent person who does stupid things is still stupid. You are what you do. Stupid people are going to keep on doing stupid things because that’s what they are. It is that simple.
I tell my kids many stories from my youth. Some are embarrassing, some have morals; others are just funny and make my kids laugh. I find that stories that bring the greatest laughter are those where I implemented the greatest stupidity. As a kid, I use to do some mind boggling stupid things. So luckily for my kids and their entertainment value, I have plenty of stupid stories. Some I think most all kids have done. Such as: sliding down handrails on the stairs (rarely ends the way you envision). Toilet-papering a neighbor’s house. Egging or water ballooning another car and it’s occupants. I could write multiple blog posts on this topic alone. Jumping off the roof with a blanket as a parachute. Building a mini cannon in metal shop and shooting a steel marble through the backyard wooden fence. Need I go on? So let me simplify this stupid blog down to BB guns and bow and arrows.
I once shot my brother’s best friend with my BB gun from 200 feet. Not an easy shot when you consider that I was shooting from my bedroom window through a screen. I remember aiming relatively high to compensate for the pathetically weak velocity and arching trajectory. The BB hit the kid right on his bare calf. He yelped. When my brother asked what was wrong, I heard him say “a bee stung me.” Can you hear me snickering?
Well, that gave me another mischievous scheme. You see, we lived near a Swim & Tennis club. I found the fence near the diving board had knot holes in it — perfect for sighting in on unsuspecting dive board jumpers. Plunk, plunk, plunk and guess what? They thought they were stung by bees as well. I was such a little devil at times. No one ever caught me. What is the statute of limitations on committing a crime with a Daisy BB gun?
With my bow and arrow, I would go to the high ridges overlooking the local golf course named Deep Cliff. I would meticulously tie a couple firecrackers between the fletchings on one of my arrows. I would light the fuses and let the arrow fly, timing the impact so it would hit the green as the golfers casually approached. Swish, then thwack — for the golfers who saw the arrow land they would stop and be puzzled, but then bang! crack! and their faces really got nervous. I always had a clean, fast, getaway. But to be honest, the golfers never really knew where the arrows were coming from. So I never got in trouble for that one, either.
I grew up with four sisters. I remember that my sister just younger than me would have her dates pick her up at the house. My brother and I would be waiting on the roof with my BB gun and bow and arrow. I would launch an arrow or two into the front lawn next to our steps that led to the front door. If that did not frighten them, I would pop them with my BB gun. More than one would scamper back to the car, drive off and call the house from the local pay phone down the block, at the corner 7-Eleven (yes, long before cell phones). I can still hear my mother yelling from the front porch. “AAAARRRRRTHUR FERRELL COOOOOOMBS the THIRD, get down from that roof this very instant!” I could always gauge her level of seriousness by the name she would call me. (Full name equaled full rage.) My little brother and I would scurry down and when the nervous suitor would reappear, my mother would make us apologize. We did, but we always had a smart alecky smirk that went with it.
There are many more stupid and insane things I did as a teen, but I will save those for “Stupid is as Stupid Does, Part II.” Dang, I could easily make it a trilogy. If I stop and think long enough, heck it could be a hexalogy!
Nevertheless, let me overwhelm your sanity and good judgment with what has to be one of the most insane things I ever did. I brilliantly invented a game I called “Who Can Get Closest Without Getting Hit.” The name itself makes me chuckle. Here are the rules: I would take my bow and arrows and my younger brother (he willingly joined in) and we would make our way to the local high school football field. We would each stand on the 50-yard line. I would grab an arrow and load it in the bow. With my three middle fingers, I would pull the string all the way back and aiming straight up, I would release and shoot the arrow directly over our heads as if I were some medieval, Roman archer. It would fly fast at first, but as the arrow would reach its aeronautical apex, it would slow and appear to pause as if suspended in midair. It would slowly turn and begin its descent to Earth. The closer it got, the faster it seemed to fall. As soon as I shot the arrow, I would drop the bow and my brother and I would start wrestling for position. (You see where this is going? Insane, right?) We would push, shove, box out and grapple each other to see who could get closest to the falling arrow when it pierced the ground without getting hit. You lost if your opponent was closer than you or you got struck by the falling projectile.
Just writing it makes me shudder. How stupid can two teenage boys be?
I am happy to report that the arrows never hit either of us. But there were plenty of times when you could hear and see the arrows go swish and hit the ground with a vibrating thump as they sunk into the grass several inches deep. I am embarrassed to say that I would dance around like a fool and celebrate when the arrow would embed itself in the ground literally inches from me. As a young idiot, I never once stopped to think what would have happened if the arrow had actually hit one of us. But now, I ponder that maiming or possibly lethal scenario and quiver.
Like I said, stupid is as stupid does…
So, share your stupid stories with me. What are some of those stupid things you did in your invincible stupid youth?
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Art is a widely-published author of methodologies for BPO/contact centers, outsourcing, customer service, and technical support, and has served in leadership positions at Hewlett-Packard, VLSI Research, and RasterOps.