Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rudimentary Physics & Someone Else's Pain

--Adrienne Miller

When I was a little girl my dad used to tell me stories. He told all kinds of stories, some of them pure fantasy and others not so much, but all of them magical to my five year old ear. 
My favorites were the Dumb Donnie stories. Well, the Dumb Donnie and his Motorcycle stories to be precise. I still remember them.
Once upon a time, Dumb Donnie decided he wanted a motorcycle. Now, Dumb Donnie didn’t know how to ride a motorcycle, but he figured that didn’t matter very much. He’d seen people riding them and that meant he could too.
So Dumb Donnie bought that motorcycle and Dumb Donnie rode that motorcycle very fast...right into the chain stretched across the entrance to the closed parking lot.
The motorcycle stopped...(dramatic pause)...but Dumb Donnie kept going. 
The ending is what I really remember. The ending never changed. 
The motorcycle stopped...but Dumb Donnie kept going. 
Oh, Dumb Donnie managed to ride that motorcycle into all kinds of things--chains, gravel pits, open ditches. I loved them all. The action. The excitement. The hysterical image of a grown man being hurled through the air. In my mind, my dad was the greatest storyteller the world had ever known. Forget Dr. Suess; nobody ever ended up with facial lacerations in his books.
I learned a lot from those stories--rudimentary physics and how to laugh at someone else’s pain. Important lessons, I’m sure you all agree.
Then one day at a family get together, I was introduced to my second cousin, Donnie. The helmet under his arm, the badly scarred cheeks, the somewhat vacant look in his eyes--the pieces all fell into place.
And out of my mouth came, “You’re THE Dumb Donnie. You’re famous! My daddy told me all about you.”
And thus was born my life long curse of saying exactly the wrong thing when I meet someone for the first time.


Sophie Littlefield said...

I think dumb donnie needs to go into the "walls" book. you know which one I am talking about, a....

CJ West said...

Too funny Adrienne. Thanks for the laugh!

LR said...

I've enjoyed each of these entries on mortification very much.

They come timely for me too as this week I discovered I had a wrong word in a short story. Luckily there was time to stop the presses and remedy the problem.

But the experience made me wonder if not all writing is essentially mortifying. ?? Luckily there are rewards to balance it out. :)

Tom Neely said...

I'd like to think there's a little Dumb Donnie in all of us. At the very least, in me.

Unknown said...

I was a party last weekend, and was introduced to someone by my name, "Mysti," and the lady said to our host who introduced us, "oh, this isn't bitchy Mysti, right?"

Our host started waving her hands and shaking her head. She was mortified. Our mutual friend didn't notice, and continued, "so this isn't New York Mysti," and to me, "she's the bitchy Mysti."

I had taken a trip to New York with our host. But it was kind of fun to let my host off the hook. After all, I *had* been a bit bitchy in New York ;)

Adrienne Bell said...

CJ - Thank you.

LR - I think you're right. Anytime you do anything that is so uniquely and personally yours, you put yourself at risk. That's why were a brave lot...that and we drink a lot.


Tom - There is way more Dumb Donnie in me than i like to admit

Mysti - I don't have any memory of how poor Donnie received this lil' gem. All I remember is that my dad laughed his butt off, my mom wanted to bury her head in the sand and I was never allowed near my distant relatives again.

amy said...

Standing up in front of my high school and giving a speech. Big punch line at the end. To which NO ONE, NOT one person laughed :(