As almost everyone has, I've done some dumb things in my time, and when I travel down Stupid Memory Lane, it's never a pleasant journey. In fact, even now, I'm starting to feel lousy.
That's why, boy, it's always nice to learn about someone who has done something even more boneheaded than anything I've ever imagined to accomplish. Reuters reported this story just a few weeks ago and it makes me chuckle every time I think about it. I thought I'd share it here in case you missed it:
London resident Lefkos Hajji, 28, came up with an admittedly brilliant idea of putting an engagement ring inside a helium balloon. His thinking was that she could pop the balloon as he popped the question. And this was quite a ring -- worth $12,000, and apparently we're talking dollars and not pounds or euros.
So our friend Lefkos leaves the jewelry store with the engagement ring hidden in the balloon, intending to go see his girlfriend, Leanne, 26 years old.
Unfortunately, as soon as he left the shop, some wind -- blast of a draft -- swept through the city. Suddenly, the balloon slipped from Lefkos' hand, and the next thing he knows, he's watching the balloon -- with the apparently uninsured $12,000 ring inside -- drift upward. Moments later, it was far above the skyline.
"I felt like such a plonker," Lefkos told Reuters. "It cost a fortune, and I knew my girlfriend would kill me."
And so panicked and not wanting to die so young, Lefkos followed in his car, trying to chase after the balloon. He lost sight of it, however, and after two hours, he gave up. Then he told Leanne, who is reportedly not talking to him.
Now, in solidarity with Lefkos, I thought I would share some of my own exploits in the realms of idiocy:
Once, when I was a kid in middle school, we were let out of school early due to a blizzard coming in, and I was so excited that I ran through the hall, out the front door and instead of darting down the steps, I decided to race down what I can only describe as a cement banister. It was about six feet long, as I recall. Anyway, it was covered in ice, a fact I should have considered since, after all, snow was falling, and I did consider this as I sailed into the air and crashed into the ground. Bruised and covered in snow, my dignity destroyed, I staggered to my school bus.
When I was a teenager, during the one time I went water skiing, I managed to stay up a few seconds before falling. Forgivable? Of course. But I forgot to let go, allowing myself to be dragged at top speed through a lake for about 30 seconds. Not a good idea.
When I was 23 years old and a couple months into my first real job, I bought a sporty Ford Probe that I couldn't afford, but I figured I'd make up for the gap in my finances by freelance writing. It helped my career and made me feel great whenever I drove, but 15 years later, my bankbook still is feeling the effects of that decision.
And when I was about 30 and doing a radio appearance related to a newspaper job I had, I agreed to let a professional wrestler explain to our listeners how to body slam someone. I was that someone. It took me a week before my back felt better, and again, this was for radio.
I really feel terrible for Lefkos. But, I have to admit, stories like his make me feel great.
Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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