Warning Signs, or “Danger, Will Robinson!”

In the “yeah, that happened” category this week, I introduce you to a group of parents who decided that the best way to dry out a baseball field for the big game was to set it on fire.

Well, they weren’t wrong. I am pretty sure that field was dry after that, at least until the fire department got it wet again. Needless to say, this group’s stupidity will result in a warning sign at the field, cautioning people not to set it on fire. Again.

It got me thinking about warning signs.

At an amusement park, as I am clipping my seatbelt on the roller coaster ride and praying that I don’t get flung into the next county, my eyes settle on that sign above the door. “Caution, remain seated during this ride.” Obviously, something happened that made this warning necessary. Was there a huge problem with rebellious amusement park-goers standing up on roller coasters in mid-flight during the seventies? If so, you would think “Murphy’s Law” or perhaps more appropriate, “Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection,” would have sorted them out from the smarter, more belted passengers. I personally wouldn’t stand up during the ride, unless, of course, I am being flung into to the next county. At that point, I think the choice to sit or stand is out of my hands.

On a fan belt of a car, there is a warning on the package to make sure the engine is off before installation. My good friend, Lefty the Fingerless mechanic, seemed to know something about this one. How would you even attempt to place a fan belt on a running fan? You’d have to be quick, I know that much. My mind is both awed and boggled that someone, somewhere, tried this and was rewarded with a warning on the package.

“No smoking around gas pumps.” Well, now. You would think “burning cigarette ash and flammable vapors” would speak a warning of their own to intelligent folks, but somebody somewhere was chewing on a Marlboro Red while gassing up the family station wagon. I only hope he blasted just himself into Christmas morning and didn’t take some poor innocent with him. That innocent bystander was probably trying to write a sign about smoking at the pumps when tragedy struck.

My hairdryer proudly sports a tag advising me not to use it in the tub. Thank God for that warning, because the best time for me to dry my hair used to be while I was still in the shower. Doesn’t everyone do this? Well, now we know better.

We are surrounded by so many “warnings” that we don’t even take the time to read them anymore. I understand it’s to protect everyone from injuries, if not lawsuits, when human beings do things to reminds us that, despite our better natures, we are still human beings. And as proven by the several adults in the aforementioned baseball field fiasco, we apparently need warnings. There are at least a few of us who simply cannot function in society unsupervised.

I wish some things in everyday life came with warnings.

“Warning: Dating me will make my wife mad.”

 “Warning: Babies vomit uncontrollably and without warning.”

 “Warning: Watching the news will piss you right the heck off”

“Warning: We are newly engaged and disgustingly sweet.”

“Warning: Giving the dog a treat will lead to sad-eyed begging that can’t be ignored.”

“Warning: Petting the cat will cause it to lay in your lap and be paralyzed for hours.”

What do you think of daily life warning signs? What would be yours?

My personal warning sign would read: “Proceed with caution, sarcasm may sting.”

Challenging the Challenges

I have seen news coverage of the “latest” teen challenge craze, snorting condoms, and I can hold my peace no longer.   Here is a doctor’s warning about the risks associated with snorting condoms.  Again, I am shaking my head that we would even need to warn anyone that this is a stupid idea, on top of all the other warnings issued regarding gulping spoonfuls of cinnamon, eating Tide Pods, wrapping yourself in duct tape, car surfing, and choking yourself until you pass out.

It would seem that condom snorting is a resurrection of a fad first making the rounds in 2013.  It has made a reappearance along with bell bottom jeans, cold shoulder sweaters, jelly shoes, and many other things that should just stay in the past.  In my opinion, kids snorting condoms should wear them to guarantee they don’t breed, and the Tide Pod challenge should include a teenager doing his own laundry and putting it away.

But are teens alone in stupid challenges?  I think not.  Adults are just as guilty, men especially (come on guys, you know it’s true), of doing ridiculous things in rituals called “Hold My Beer” challenges.  These range from jumping off a roof using umbrellas as parachutes to roller-skating on frozen lakes.  Things I have personally witnessed grown men doing include:

  • The firecracker challenge: I am not kidding, I have seen grown men challenge each other to light firecrackers in the waistband of their pants … “to see what happens.”  I mean, honestly. What do they think is going to happen?? I can attest it’s about what you’d expect to have happen.
  • Chicken: I have witnessed versions of this classic played out in trucks, on four wheelers, and on tractors. It never ends well for the drivers or the vehicles of choice. And once, it ended really badly – in the form of a mud bath (it was in a field, so we were all hoping it was mud at any rate) – for a particularly well-dressed bystander who had not planned on said mud bath that evening.
  • Impossible Obstacle Challenge: Let’s pile some debris and boards together and jump them with bicycles, four-wheelers, motorcycles, or heck, even roller-skates and skate boards. One guy thought he would impersonate Superman — you know, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. What could go wrong? Broken bones. That’s what can go wrong. But hey, at least he held onto his beer.
  • The hot pepper challenge: My ex-husband and his friends used to see who could eat the hottest peppers whole. This was fun enough on its own, until wasabi became a thing and the challenge expanded to a whole new level. I think some of those guys still have clear sinuses even today. Of course, the subsequent ulcers are a constant reminder of the “good old days.”

With kids, this sort of behavior is really not too far out of the realm of somewhat kinda sorta normal … I mean, their brains and their impulse control are still developing. However, you’d think the adults would “know better.”  But they don’t. I do think that adults doing stupid things and teens doing stupid things comes down to a few similarities.  Boredom is probably a running theme for all of these challenges.  The need for recognition plays some part, as well; the people performing these challenges feel the need to be acknowledged for doing something, hell, ANYTHING, even if it is dumb.  I think another common trait among people who perform these stunts, adults and teens alike, is a pervasive feeling of invincibility. I’ve talked about this before. These people know that they are doing something stupid and dangerous, and they have read that people have been seriously hurt performing these stunts, but hey; it will never happen to me!

I think that every now and then, things are put into place to promote evolution; this is Darwinism at its finest.  Only the smartest and the strongest will be able to resist snorting a condom, therefore, only the smartest and strongest survive.  If they somehow survive the teenage round of stupidity, they will be tested again as adults in the “Hold My Beer” challenges.  After this, they are granted the wisdom needed to reach old age, and to impart that great wisdom to the next generation. Who, in turn, will ignore the wise elderly citizen, and chomp on a Tide Pod anyway.  This is definitely the new “circle of life.”

Luckily, there is a growing number of young people who not only resist these asinine challenges but show more courage and intelligence than many adults … these are the leaders of the future. Hell, they’re the leaders we need now, but sadly, we’ll have to wait a bit longer for them to come into their own. So, there is hope yet.

As for me, just check my Instagram for the latest challenges I will be performing.  There is the couch-a-thon which involves sitting on my couch for an entire episode of a QVC show while the remote is on the counter in the kitchen, totally out of my reach; then there is the gluttony challenge where I will eat an entire pizza by myself.  It’s dangerous, but I like to shake it up a little and live on the edge.  Then there’s the “rope the remote with the phone charger” challenge. It’s not as easy as it sounds – I almost fell off the couch performing this one, so there’s an added risk to be taken into consideration. Of course, my all-time favorite: eating a whole container of Oreos without milk (bonus points if it’s because you forgot milk at the store when you in fact purchased the Oreos).  Required Disclaimer: Don’t try these at home, people, I am a trained professional.