The second I let my guard down I become prone to having highly unusual stuff happen to me, ranging from outright embarrassing to downright pathetic. It’s not all that bad really as accomplished klutzes like me seem to have the power to draw quite a fan base, which leaves me with the hope that I’ll make a name for myself someday. My best shot at fame is probably the Darwin Awards website.
My special talents became evident quite early. When I was little but big enough to swing an axe – those were happier, relaxed times when kids wouldn’t dream of suing their own parents – I was sent out to chop some firewood. So there I was happily hacking away, when one of my particularly energetic blows sent the blade into an unrelenting wood knot, which in turn sent the axe right back and straight into the middle of my forehead. I had no I idea I was capable of generating such enormous force (back then, I didn’t quite understand how the axe handle acted as a lever) and it sent me flying backwards. I landed on my back, still gripping the axe and probably looking oddly enlightened as three important things dawned on me right then and there. First, I realised that I had been blessed with tough cranial bones and I instinctively knew this would come to serve me well in the many years to come. Second, I suddenly understood why the double-headed axes I used to find so fascinating when I saw them in movies were not the weapon of choice if you were battling logs; you want to be met with the butt rather than the blade of the axe if it bounces back. (Had it been so, my left brain and my right brain would be functioning completely independently today.) Last but not least, I immediately learned to appreciate wood knots for the mighty adversaries that they were. Who would have thought that being hit with an axe could instantaneously make you smarter? Well it worked for me; told you I had a gift for attracting the unusual.
(More on those devious knots. The knowledge that they were not to be taken lightly was further instilled in me a couple of years later when I was watching my brother take a humble little chainsaw to a large, seemingly innocuous timber log. Guess what, a vicious knot was lurking under the bark and the chainsaw bolted and struck my logger-wanna-be sibling right below his knee. My heart stopped … But so did the chainsaw and, in addition to being reaffirmed in my belief that knots were the trees’ way of getting back at humans, I learnt another important thing: wear mesh-reinforced overalls and some tough boots if you plan on being anywhere near a running chainsaw. My brother did and this is why he still has the usual number of legs.)
But, the axe-in-the-head episode wasn’t to be the last time my wisdom grew on the account of me assaulting my own forehead. When I was a student, I indulged in two things I don’t care for much these days: playing computer games at night and napping in the afternoon; you’d be amazed at how perfectly both activities seemed to complement each other. During one of my drawn-out nocturnal forays into the universe of Monkey Island 2, LeChuck’s Revenge, I got stuck on something called The Spitting Contest. (For those of you who don’t know what I’m on about: please accept my deepest sympathies for you being oblivious to the existence of one of the best adventure games ever. Anyway, the said contest involved your character trying to win a distance-spitting event, which is, well, exactly what it sounds like.) Quite predictably, the gaming-induced sleep-deprivation combined with the exhaustion of having to sit through a double block of lectures prompted another one of my afternoon naps. As is often the case with people foolish enough to sleep irregularly, I soon began to dream vividly – again unsurprisingly – about the spitting contest when I suddenly startled myself awake. Lying on my back, I was thinking, ‘how weird this felt so real I’m lucky I didn’t…’ when my spit landed on my freaking forehead! I thought then just as I do now that this must have been one of the lowest points in my life. The thing with low points is that you need to make sure this is exactly what they are by not allowing yourself to sink any lower. And so I sat up, wiped the dribble off my brow and proceeded to come to terms with the fact that I was a morning person rather than an owl and as such I shouldn’t be up at nights, let alone waste my time playing computer games when I should be sleeping. I remember reading something esoteric about foreheads having to do with wisdom; whoever wrote it must have been on to something.
The latest sobering experience involving my forehead happened quite recently… Well actually it happened to this daft friend I have and not me, I’m obviously so much wiser now. So it was she who recently moved her bed under the bedroom window to make sure she caught the early sunrays and chirped away happily into the morning just like the lark she had long ago realised she was. It didn’t escape her that the window ledge made for a very convenient book stand, even more so since her doting fiancé installed a reading lamp on that very same ledge. The said ledge also continued to serve as the throne for her aloe vera plant, lovingly smuggled from [I’m not going to tell you where] by one of her dearest friends. One fateful evening she lay down after a hard day’s work, turned on the reading lamp and proceeded to pull a rather hefty autobiography by Alma Karlin (splendidly translated by a brilliant colleague of hers) from under a pile of other books that had accumulated there. It’s difficult to ascertain what exactly went wrong at that moment and in which precise order every single item that had been sitting on the window ledge smashed down on the reposing Queen of Dumbia. Let’s just hope she’s a bit wiser and mindful of the laws of physics when the cut on her forehead heals.