Chapter

Stupid Things I Have Done

I fully admit to having done a lot of stupid things in my life. But there are a few particularly idiotic things that stand out in my mind.

For instance, when Dee Dee and I got married, the ceremony was performed outside on the south deck of the Pass Christian Yacht Club.  All of our friends gathered on the upper deck, overlooking a small landing in the center of the stairs below, where we stood, along with our wedding party and minister.  The Mississippi Sound provided a lovely backdrop, as did several shirtless children fishing with bamboo poles on the beach and rocks below (they actually appear in our wedding photos).

As is standard practice, the minister asked Dee Dee, “And do you take this idiot…err man, to be your lawful wedded husband?”

She looked at me, somewhat starry-eyed, and immediately replied, “I do.”

Then he asked me, “And do you take this breathtakingly gorgeous woman, with obviously poor judgment, to be your lawful wedded wife?”

I stood there for a looooong moment, and then another loooooong moment without replying, until finally the minister, with this horror-stricken look on his face asked again, “Well, do you?”

I could feel daggers shooting from Dee Dee’s eyes as I smiled at her and finally replied, “Yeah.”

I laughed, all my friends laughed, the minister let out a long sigh, and Dee Dee stood there trembling – mostly from the enormous self-control it took not to throat punch me.

In my defense, and Lord knows I needed one, it was sort of like truth-in-advertising.  She could never say later, “Well, I didn’t know what I was getting into by marrying you.”  She definitely knew.

Then there was the time after one of our infamous dive club parties, we decided it would be a really good idea to ride a mechanical bull at two in the morning.  So off we went in my buddy’s ancient station wagon to the old Cheyenne Social Club on the beach in Biloxi.

I laughed at my buddies as they climbed on the bull, rode a few seconds, and were slung off.  When it was my turn, after signing the 47 page release document, I strode up to that big mechanical bull, certain that I looked like an experienced cow poke.

I saddled up, nodded to the woman at the controls, and she hit the switch.  I believe it was at that exact same instant I hit the floor.  I failed so miserably that the control lady felt bad enough to say, “Son, go ahead and give it another shot.”  Like she was doing me some big favor.

By now the crowd’s laughter had subsided slightly, and I was determined to do better.  I gripped the sides of that fake bull with my legs as tightly as I possibly could, and then, with somewhat less bravado, nodded to that evil pyscho woman at the controls.

I must say, I did do better the second time.  I think I remained in the saddle a full 0.000002 seconds longer than on my first attempt.  The next day, I had angry black bruises on the insides of both legs from my knees to my … manly parts.  You could even see a detailed imprint of the seam of my jeans right there in the bruises.

But as stupid acts go, my personal best had to be the time that my best friend, Robert, took advantage of my impaired state to help me commit one of my all-time-great acts of idiocy.  Yes, that’s the very same Robert who was my partner in our business, Triton Systems.  The Robert who is always complaining that I play pranks on him. (Note to reader: There actually is some truth to his claims.)

Anyhow, we were both working out at NASA’s Stennis Space Center when the company we worked for held their annual Christmas party.  This was no small deal; it involved around 400-500 employees.

There was always an impressive spread of food and freely flowing alcohol at these company parties, and on this particular night, Robert and I enjoyed ourselves a lot … a whole lot.  It was near the end of the night when they began drawing door prizes.  They must have had 50 or so, and the drawing had been going on for quite some time when I boasted, “Robert, I feel lucky.  I’m going to win one of those prizes.”  Given that they were nearly finished, this was a pretty ridiculous prediction.

Robert grinned at me and said, “Okay, I’ll bet you 20 bucks you don’t.”

“You’re on,” I instantly replied, for reasons I cannot explain.

But then Robert added, “But if you win, you have to kiss the director … on the mouth.”

I’m certain it was the alcohol that answered, “Hell yeah.”  I’m not sure why I agreed to that additional condition, since we already had a bet, but again I figured that in a few short minutes I would simply be handing him my 20 bucks after losing.

We laughed, and I went back to watching the stage where they were drawing the next name.  And then it happened, “Frank Wilem.”

I was astonished and in shock as Robert dragged me from my chair and shoved me toward the stage.  My mind was racing to come up with some way out, but I had made a bet (no matter how stupid), one which he would never let me live down if I didn’t follow through.  So I decided my only choice was to play into it.

I strode proudly up on the stage, took my prize bottle of Jack, and proceeded to plant one on the director — yes, right on the lips — in front of all those hundreds of people.

Me trying to salvage a little dignity (and defend my sexuality) by explaining why I had done such a ridiculous thing.

Me trying to salvage a little dignity (and defend my sexuality) by explaining why I had done such a ridiculous thing.

But the truly mind boggling thing was that the very next year, Robert made me the very same bet.  I know you’re saying to yourself, “No way anyone could be so stupid as to do the very same idiotic thing twice.”  But you would be wrong.

In an inconceivably stupid, mind-boggling act of total lunacy, I immediately took him up on it, fully confident there was absolutely no way I could win a second time.  BUT I DID!  I did the same brain-numbing thing TWICE!

I suspect that in subsequent years, they made certain my name was not in the hat for the Christmas door prizes.

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