Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Complete Inventory of Nuts

Another old one from the archives.

Have you ever thought about making a list of people whom you were convinced were certifiably nuts? I'm not talking about individually, but collectively, like people who go scuba diving in caves. I sometimes feel that insanity isn’t defined as fully as it needs to be. Some of the groups I think should be included in the new definition are storm chasers, teenage boys, and the twentysomething guys who tell steady girl friends that they "are just not the marrying kind."

Take for instance the guys who go cave diving. I can't think of a better way to allow my widow to collect my life insurance. Let's look at this logically. I'll take a limited commodity (my life), add a limited supply of a necessary sustaining ingredient (the tank full of air), and add two unlimited variables (the length of the cave and the amount of water in it). Algebraically, it looks like this; L+A/CW=0. Unquestionably, if you are experienced in this pastime, it is perfectly safe. The question is how do you become experienced with out becoming deceased?

There are other things that people do for enjoyment that I wouldn't do to avoid jail, such as jumping out of perfectly good aircraft. Further proof that these people are slightly insane is that they are usually Marines to start with. This same analysis applies to people who scale cliffs and rappel down them, or endure the frigid winds of Everest. And some of these folks weren't Marines to begin with, and thereby lack that built in excuse for such risky behavior.

The only group other than Marines to have a built in excuse for daily insanity is teenage boys. For some reason the words "I dare you" are able to wipe out whatever little sense has been carefully cultivated by years of parental guidance. The formula is simple. Add three teenage males, all on a hormone induced, death wish high, two teenage girls who look like they need to be impressed with a manly feat of ignorance, and one "I dare you". You don't need to stir this recipe, it will blow up on it's own. A busy street or tall bridge makes a fine catalyst, as does the addition of an expendable auto, such as Mom's.

Some of these assumed nutty people are highly educated; a Doctor of this, a Masters in that, or at the least, a Rhodes scholar. Some times they even have a degree in the action they are pursuing, like the Doctor of Aero-anatomical science, who was an expert in high altitude free falling. But which came first, the drop or the degree? And how about people who study volcanoes and tornadoes just so they can claim a valid reason to be around them when they are at their most dangerous? If that isn't near the top of the nut heap, I don't know what is.

But don’t go anywhere, it gets worse. I just found out about a group who offers tours chasing tornadoes. How much would you trust your doctor if you found out that he spent his last vacation, and his hard earned cash, riding around Kansas looking for a twister? Could you trust the banker who gave the people who founded this business a starter loan? I’ll bet their insurance agent is prematurely gray, and deservedly rich. Need I mention the gentleman who just spent ten million dollars to have himself strapped to 10,000 pounds of liquid oxygen and have it lit like a massive bottle rocket? Care to trust him with your life savings for proper investment? This guy also was old enough to know better.

Which is unlike the last group that I consider for the Snickers Hall of Fame, the young males who consider commitment a four-letter word. It’s not that I’m bitter or envious in any way, but just how often do I need to hear about being free and able to practice self-determination? After all, I was once like that. I wasn’t born married. I’m not so senile I’ve forgotten how it feels. I don’t need a constant reminder that I’ve got responsibilities, a family, a career, and a long-term commitment to a mortgage company. So what is it about their behavior I consider so risky? It's because soon one of these youngsters is going to get a handful of knuckles in his face for his efforts to enlighten me.

I’ve got a few more examples, but I think I’ve illustrated the general idea. These folks are just too attuned to themselves, too focused on what they wish to do to care how the rest of the world views their sanity, or apparent lack thereof. Because if you ask me, that’s what makes them nuts.

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