The boy who wanted to be a stunt man.

We noticed when he began throwing himself down the stairs.

“What are you doing, trying to kill yourself?”

“No,” he said.  “I’m practicing to be a stunt man.”

Sometimes he’d start at the top of the stairs.  Seized by a heart attack at the age of seven, he’d clutch his chest, crumble to his knees, and then roll – bump, bump, bump – down each step.  Other times he’d start at the bottom and dash up – chased by a knife-wielding or gun-toting villain – only to be stabbed or shot in the back half-way up, whereupon he would crumble to his knees, and then roll – bump, bump, bump – down each step.  Backwards.

When he perfected falling down stairs, he moved on to leaping over trees.  Short trees to be sure, sapling evergreens, but a fair leap for a kid.  Eventually he graduated to flinging himself sling-shot fashion out of bigger trees.

The year my parents took part in a local theater production of Dracula, he pretended to be the lunatic Renfield, and collected flies in a jar.  He went around saying heh heh heh and wringing his hands for a year.

He had a paper route and accidentally set himself on fire.  He graduated high school and started lifting weights.  He grew muscles.  He went to college and studied chemistry.  He thought about becoming a pharmacist.  He got married and had two sons, instead.  When I got married he was best man at my wedding.  He showed up shortly before zero hour in a car with a door that wouldn’t open.

For a while he chased demons.

What happens from there to here?  From boy to man?  From lost to found?  Life.  Life happens.  And we manage somehow to muddle our way through it.

For the love of a good woman (my take on it), he has now found his way to where he needs to be.  He is not a stunt man.  He’s a research scientist/engineer and he would like to go to the moon.  Or at least into outer space.  I think that he is happy now.  Which is the best stunt ever.

He wins.

Boy bundled up & reading on a cold winter afternoon. Stunt boy bundled up & reading on a cold winter afternoon.

N.B.  I started this as last week’s DPChallenge on Character.  I like stories, and what are stories, but a study of character?

29 thoughts on “The boy who wanted to be a stunt man.

  1. There is an important lesson here. Actually before I went to the uni, I had this big ambition of becoming a mechanical engineer. Well, fate got in the way. I graduated as a chemist.

    The course of our lives are influenced by a quite a number of things. If we are lucky, the new dimension turns out to be a great one as well. I’m proud of you friend. And thank you for taking me down memory lane.


  2. Your story warmed my heart and the most beautiful precious gift to me. And around my birthday. In that picture with the boy wrapped up reading in the cold winter’s night, I thought at first it was you. Then I studied it again and it recognized him. Yet, as I gazed at it for a while, it became Kathy’s face. You three resemble one another very much. The photo, I wish I could have a copy of it. I’d have it enlarged, framed and hanged on my bedroom wall. the wall facing me, so that it would be the first picture I saw upon waking up for the rest of my life: However many years I’ve got left in the life time.


  3. I so entirely enjoyed, this piece. You are gifted. What a beautiful story. And the best birthday present ever. love, mom



  4. Your work is always delightful, Mary, but you really did it this time. Your Mom and your brother are blessed – and so are the rest of us who get to share in this.


  5. Oh how I remember those stunts. Thank you for not only sharing the past, but connecting it to the man our brother has become. And this picture tells a story that needs no words!


  6. Wow.
    When people write something that matters, something that is truly important to them, I feel as if I’m stealing as I read the words. And I don’t care, because I know they want me to take it. Take it, like a kid would take it. Take it and run, all the way to the moon, if my legs carry me that far.
    That way.
    And one more thing, again…Wow.


  7. I keep reading this over and over again, and every single time I cull something new and brilliant from its heave. I nominated you for a blog award, as if I had a choice in the matter. You’re an inspiration, lady.


  8. Traveled over from Susie’s blog and I’m so happy I did. What a wonderful story, I can see the boy practicing his stunts and growing up and finding other paths. Reminds me a lot of my cousin who was always a little daredevil. He grew up, worked on a farm for awhile, and later became a mechanic and found a good woman. My how life does shape us.


  9. Came to visit from Susie’s blog… What a cool story. My sister and I are close, too, so this hit me on several levels. Loved the way you ended the story. Happy Endings are the most rewarding stunts of all. šŸ™‚


  10. Hey hanging out at Susie’s party and saw you there thought I would stop by and let me tell this story is soooooooooooooo AWESOME. Your brother sounds awesome, my favorite line … “No,ā€ he said. ā€œIā€™m practicing to be a stunt man.ā€

    This was great. I love it because he’s a dreamer started out as a stunt man and now he’s a scientist/engineer literally reaching for the stars. NICE! MUY NICE.


    • Thanks, Guat. Glad you stopped by, and that you liked the story. My brother is still a bit of a dreamer. I’m happy because I get to spend this weekend with him. I’ll tell him you said, heh.


    • Thank you, Patricia. That’s very kind of you to say. Just came from your place where I drooled all over your photos. I apologize if they’re a little damp. I’ll bring a bib with me next time!


  11. Such a sweet memory! I love your progression of time.
    The only time my brother pulled a stunt and tumbled down the stairs, he grabbed my fishbowl and it crashed with him. Not a scratch, but all my baby guppies died… šŸ™‚


    • Thanks, Susie. And, yikes, sounds like your brother was definitely not stunt man material. Sorry for your trauma. I feel your pain. My sister killed my goldfish when she kept trying to scoop it out of the water to “pet” it!


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