|[Mick Jagger 2013- wikipedia]|
Nope, not gonna be writing about the Stones today, although I did amuse myself for a few minutes by jotting down a bunch of their song titles, and wondering how many of them I could slip into this post without anyone noticing. I dunno why. Just for kicks? A challenge? Because I'm listening to one of their CDs right now? Take your pick. But as fun as that idea might be, I'm going to let it loose for now, so I'm free, instead, to shine a light on kicks, challenges and wagers, and some of the crazy things ordinary salt of the earth people are willing to do on the basis of a drawn card, a pair of tumbling dice, or a simple handshake.
|Ormer Locklear- 1920 [wikipedia]|
Then again, I wasn't around in the 1920s. Back then, thrill-seeking was practically a national pastime. No wonder the decade was dubbed the Roaring Twenties.
Last month, I did a post about a guy who, as the result of a drunken bet, stole an airplane and landed it on a New York street right in front of the bar where he left his buddies. (If you missed it, you can find it here.) But in the '20s, people got their kicks out of walking on the wings of airplanes... and hanging from them... and doing all kinds of other nutso stunts. And not usually because of a bet, either... because they wanted to do it! It was a fad, as was swallowing live goldfish, walking on tightropes, and sitting atop flagpoles for prolonged periods of time. I can understand sittin' on a fence, within a nice safe hopping-off distance from the ground, but a way-up-there flagpole? For days and days and days on end? Um, no thanks. Ditto the live fish-eating and the tightrope walking. Heck, I have no self-expectations about walking safely across a perfectly flat piece of land without tripping over an errant blade of grass, so no way I'd have any interest in trying to walk over a canyon on a lousy piece of wire...
|[Herbert Hoover -wikipedia]|
In 1928, a Texan named Bill Williams made a wager with his father-in-law over the upcoming presidential election. (There's no indication whether or not adult beverages were involved in said transaction, but come on... I think it's a fairly safe bet they were.)
Anyway, Bill bet that Al Smith would be elected, and his father-in-law picked Hoover. The stakes? If Smith won, the father-in-law would have to stand on his head in the middle of the Rio Hondo bridge for an HOUR. If Hoover won, Bill had to push a peanut over that same bridge with his NOSE... and keep on a-pushin' until he reached the next town... eleven miles away. It took the poor schnook nine days to complete his crazy peanut-pushing trip, at which time, I'm sure he had one mighty sore schnoz and was plenty torn and frayed at the end, but he did it. (His father-in-law must have had a heart of stone to make him follow through... I mean, couldn't he have ended the ordeal after, I dunno, five or six days... or better yet, after a few hours?)
Never mind. Bill probably wouldn't have backed down from the challenge, even if his father-in-law offered, because evi-damned-dently, he wanted to do it. Know how I know? Because after meeting that challenge, he made a new peanut-pushing bet with his buddies. According to the Mysteries of the Museum website, the stakes were five hundred dollars, and some other accounts claim it was fifty bucks. Either amount of money wasn't exactly peanuts in 1929. But all accounts agree on what Williams had to do to win the bet...
|[Pikes Peak- wikipedia]|
Most people are enthralled with Pikes Peak because of the glorious views. In fact, in 1893, the view inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write American the Beautiful.
Apparently, Bill Williams had other thoughts when he looked at the picturesque mountain. He thought it'd be a grand place to push a peanut with his nose, and he bet he could make the 22-mile trip all the way up Pikes Peak Highway to the top of the mountain in 22 days. This time, however, he made sure he was better prepared than he was for his initial peanut-pushing adventure. He brought extra peanuts, wore leather pads on his knees, and brought multiple pairs of shoes and canvas gloves. Oh yeah, he did a better job protecting his poor schnoz this time, too. He wore a face mask with a two-foot metal extension attached to his nose. Bottom line? He did it, and it took him 21 days, so he won the bet. He was the first Pikes Peak peanut pusher, but he wasn't the last. In 1963, a rock 'n' roll musician named Ulysses Baxter accomplished the same feat in 8 days, and in 1976, a college student pared the time down to an astonishing 4 days, 23 hours, and 47 minutes.
Quite a feat, eh? As for me, if I'm ever there, I'd rather use my God-given feet to hike up that road, (Oh, who am I trying to kid? I'd be in a CAR.) and if someone ever gave me a fistful of peanuts, my first inclination wouldn't be to push them anywhere, especially with my nose. Nope, give me peanuts, and they're going into that orifice under my nose. I'm jolly well gonna eat 'em.
Well, it looks like I'm running out of time to be on the computer for now, so I'd better run. (Okay, walk slowly...) As for this post? It's all over now.
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
P.S. In case you were counting, I used thirteen song titles in this post. (What??? So I fibbed a little. You can't always get what you want.) Oops... make that fourteen.
The most dangerous risk of all: the risk of spending your life not doing what you want to do on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later. [author unknown]