The High Art of Elevated Dumbery

Some people think you can just do dumb things without any forethought, but learning how to do dumb things responsibly takes years of diligent practice. And some people, realizing how difficult it is to do dumb things responsibly, try to avoid doing dumb things all together. My wife is one of those people. She just let’s me do all the dumb stuff and then reaps the rewards. 

For instance, last week a smoke detector started chirping in the middle of the night and was disturbing her slumber. With a sharp elbow to my ribs, she then disturbed my slumber and said, “Fix it.” 

Our old farmhouse has twelve foot ceilings, and I didn’t feel like going to the barn to retrieve the ladder, so I did what any reasonably trained person in the art of doing dumb things would do. I erected a makeshift tower using chairs and advanced engineering practices (big chairs on bottom; small chairs on top), climbed it like King Kong, and then used a plunger to extend my reach and twist down the smoke detector. Then I went back to bed. The next morning when my wife woke up and saw the chair tower still standing, she was deeply impressed and said, “That was really dumb. I’m surprised you didn’t fall.”

What my wife didn’t realize, however, was that I had been building and climbing chair towers ever since I was a little boy searching for hidden Christmas gifts. Not only did that tower represent years of study in the art of doing dumb things, but it stood as monument to my specialization in elevated dumbery, or the branch of doing dumb things from heights. In college, my friends and I dedicated several Friday nights to studying elevated dumbery. In fact, whoever decided to add brick latticework to the side of the freshman men’s dorm at Wingate University should have just put a three-story rock climbing wall. 

Anyway, after years of careful study, I’m proud to say I just recently composed my magnum opus in elevated dumbery. It takes the form of a traditional limerick, but uses a few variations in meter and rhyme to really emphasize the dumbery. I call it, “Ladder in the Front-End-Loader.” It was inspired by my ongoing attempts to clad our old farmhouse in hardie board. Prepare to be impressed:

Ladder in the Front-End Loader

A man was re-siding his house

to impress and delight his spouse.

He couldn’t reach the gable,

so he lifted and made a ladder stable–

and somehow lived to write this magnum opus. 

24 thoughts on “The High Art of Elevated Dumbery

  1. My father could have written this – until he put the ladder in the bucket of the tractor to work on an antenna, and fell, landing himself in the hospital for a month – broken tailbone and muscle spasms. it works until it fails – and then I hope you have decent health insurance!

    1. and a good orthopedic surgeon. I totally agree. I think sometimes we just want to fix something so bad that we end up rationalizing ideas that, in hindsight, seem really dumb. I once had a orthopedic doctor tell me that the reason he has two vacation homes is because of men on ladders and kids on roller blades.

      1. Agreed. I think that’s my biggest fear on a ladder: finding a hidden wasp’s nest behind a clapboard and then finding myself on the ground.

  2. Bravo! Well done! And danged arful clever. Nice way to wrap the day and prepare for whatever it is the Boss is doing in the kitchen that’s making the house smell edible. I’ll not splain to her your article. You see, I’m prohibited from ladders, stepstools, and creative work arounds. Wouldn’t want her to redouble her surveillance teams when she leaves me by myself during the day. A man can dream, eh? Carry on!

    1. Thanks! Some of us are drawn to ladders like moths to a flame, to an equally self-destructive effect, so it probably isn’t a bad thing to be on ladder probation.

  3. I’m happy to know there’s a name for the foolishness I get up to. Fell off a ladder in March. I’m clearly not as adept at the elevated dumbery.

  4. You must be a long list brother of my husband! He,too, has mastered the art of dumbery. And I reap the benefits. Your wife must have mastered the eye roll by now.

  5. There is nothing so satisfying as doing something dumb that can really wreck you and getting away with it. This is merely theory on my part. I never get away with it.

  6. Emily Dickinson used to employ a lot of what she called slant rhymes. But with spouse/house/opus, you have achieved a dogleg rhyme.

    1. Alright, I feel like a proper poet now. When I went through my poetry phase, I was a big Dickinson fan. Half the time I had no clue what her poems meant, but I always liked the way they sounded. I kinda got the sense that she was toying with her imagined readers and those slant rhymes were her version of wry smile.

Leave a Reply