Somehow I am lucky enough to have made it into my 30s. I have a wife and a daughter and a business and I didn’t die in my 20s.
My father, who passed away at the age of 78 a handful of years back, said that there were two noticeable “thinnings” of his peer groups. One occurred in his 50s, when heart trouble, cancer and other chronic illnesses began to take their tolls. The other wave took place a few decades earlier, during his late teens and early 20s. He said it occurred simply “because we were stupid enough to believe that there was no killing us.”
None of the following items are intended to serve as endorsements of the outlined behavior. In fact, definitely don’t do any of these things. But inventories like these serve as important reminders to myself of my own youthful stupidity and/or arrogance and/or inflated sense of immortality—and of how lucky I am for having somehow made past thirty in spite of this.
I’m not better than people who die doing stupid things; I just pulled the longer straw.
Some of the things I did in my teens and 20s that—in retrospect—I’m shocked didn’t end with me going to jail, dying or killing somebody:
- Friend and I make modestly sized incendiary device for fun; try but fail to ignite; realize 3 foot electric fuse might be too short and put us at risk of bodily harm; find longer fuse but again fail to ignite; realize we still may not be concealed in a safe way and cover device with two cinder blocks to muffle potential explosion; try again but fail to ignite; figure we should take one more step toward augmenting our safety and run electric fuse through barn wall; try to ignite and succeed; see fire shoot through barn wall; lose hearing for 10 minutes; find that both cinder blocks have been annihilated
- Lying to my dad at age 15 and taking a bus from Maine to Pennsylvania to meet strangers from the Internet back before social media “profiles” were a thing and everyone was believed to be a thinly veiled child murderers
- So much buzzed and drunk driving
- That six month period a roommate and I were high, armed and paranoid most of the time
- All of the unprotected sex
- Running my mouth nonstop for about a decade and a half
- Intervening in almost any fight just because
- Smoking opium with friends, driving to the Mountain Valley Mall, and stepping into an exchange to tell a man that his attempt to correct a Chinese waiter’s English was inappropriate (which was the right thing to do, just not while high on opium)
- Something about a six pack and scaling an overpass right outside of Boston
- Lots of fooling around with pepper spray and Mace “for fun”
- Engaging in pellet gun “wars” in which both teams would shoot at each other with high powered air rifles
- Deeply intoxicated fireworks play at some random house party in Connecticut
- Deeply intoxicated fireworks play at places I can’t quite recall because of how deeply intoxicated I was
- Accidentally setting an abandoned building on fire
- Reading the comments