Look Before You Leap

Aug 27, 2019

As I look back on my life, I’ll have to admit that I’ve been plagued by less than stellar judgment. I’ve identified three categories: pure bad judgment, bad judgment with good intentions, bad judgment with bad intentions.

After college, I lived next to a quarry. During the summer, I would jump off of a small cliff (maybe 15 feet) into a sand pile. I loved the thrill of a free fall and a soft landing. One Super Bowl afternoon in February, I’d been hiking the quarry and happened to be standing on that cliff. I didn’t want to miss the kickoff, so instead of walking down the quarry path, I jumped off of the ledge.  I landed on frozen sand and cracked both heel bones. Bad judgment.

Years ago, we lived in North Carolina in a house perched on the tip of a steep hill. Our home backed a pleasant neighborhood, but the front looked out on a triple-X movie rental store and a fast food restaurant.  At the bottom of the hill was Loblolly Park.

Credit Deborah Prum

Having no central air, we slept with our windows open. I am a light sleeper. Late at night, I was awakened by a man and woman yelling down at the park. I grabbed a fire poker and ran out the door. Down below, I saw the man yanking on the woman’s arm. I waved the poker and shouted, “Stop!” They looked up to see all four-foot-eleven of me standing on a hill so steep that I’d need a rope swing to get to them.

In the meantime, my husband, a sound sleeper, shook himself awake. He immediately called the police. By the time that he realized I was outside threatening people with a fire poker, sirens were approaching. My appearance distracted the perpetrator enough to allow the woman to run to the restaurant, where police arrested the man. The guy could have had a gun; the woman may not have been able to escape. However, she did pull away and Bruce did call the police who came equipped with more than a fire poker. I had good intentions, but bad judgment.

I take a hip hop/dance fusion class at a gym. To be able to see the instructor, I arrive early and stand to the side in the second row. I avoid the middle of the first row because I don’t want to throw off the class with my “creative responses” to the teacher’s directions. (Was that my right or your right?)

One day a young, buff woman showed up late and jammed in next to me. She left me little room to swing my arms flamboyantly during songs, which I love to do. I felt annoyed but thought, smile and be nice.

   Buff Woman boogied vigorously, often encroaching on my personal space. A hip-hop song started playing. Dance moves included diving down and slapping the floor. Usually, I only fake dive and I never slap the floor. I glanced to see this woman expertly plunging and thwacking.

Without exercising one iota of caution, I hurled my body down and whacked the floor with both hands. A lightning bolt electrified my lower back. I spent the next nine days dealing with spasms. Clearly, this was a case of bad intentions combined with spectacularly bad judgment.

    A birthday looms in my immediate future. I would like to say that I’ve lived and learned and that my judgment is improving. But clearly, I would be lying.