I have a memory of what could easily have been my premature death, had things only gone a little differently…
One day, while playing with my toys in the front yard of our house, I hit upon the splendid notion that it would be very interesting to see how far it was possible to run with my eyes closed.
This was at around the age that “running” was a new and wonderful super power that had only been recently discovered (between two and three years old, I’m thinking). I wanted to see what the new limits were, you understand. Realising immediately that our garden was not big enough to do the experiment justice, I shut my eyes tightly, went out our front gate.. …and ran as fast as I could down the pavement that paralleled our street.
Thankfully, rather than running out into the road and being hit by a passing car, I instead ran full tilt into a concrete telephone pole, copping a fearsome smack to the forehead from a big rusty metal bolt that was embedded in its surface.
Immediately, blood sprayed out of the gash in my head, while maniacal screams poured out of the quivering hole under my nose.
A house painter, working across the street, had the good fortune to witness this spectacle in its entirety as he sat on a scaffold, eating a sandwich and having his cup of tea. It amuses me now to wonder what this man made of the sight of a small boy coming out of his house for the express purpose of running headlong into a telephone pole and almost knocking himself unconscious. In any case, it was this kindly man who picked me up (still screaming blue murder) and carried me home from my experiment, drenched in my own gore and humiliation.
It was precisely at the moment of bloody impact that I had realised that running with my eyes closed was a supremely stupid idea. Oh, if only that epiphany had struck me before the telephone pole…
As I pondered such regrets, I was obliged to listen to the kindly house-painter explain to Mum in great detail what he had just seen me do to myself. While Mum cleaned my blood away, they both asked me over and over again, just what the bloody hell had I been playing at?
I never told them. The blow to the head had knocked enough sense into me that day to realise that it was better not to reveal the extent of my own stupidity, and say what my original plan had been…
I have the scar, physical not emotional (or maybe it’s both, come to think of it) from that episode to this very day. It’s right in the centre of my forehead, where the third eye would be if I were more enlightened.
56 thoughts on “A Bolt from the Blue”
Sorry for laughing, but that was a GREAT story. I think we all have those types of stories from when we were kids.
One time, my mom was cleaning the windows in one of the bedrooms. She left the window on the bed, and I thought it would be a good time to see if a pane of glass could support the body weight of a 6 year old. Suffice to say, I learned it couldn’t. Amazingly, I wasn’t cut at all. Realizing that what I had just done was exceedingly stupid, I told her that I had jumped on the bed, not knowing the glass was there. I spent the next few weeks using my allowance to pay for a new window.
Thanks for the story Jamie. It gave me a good laugh. Sorry it was at the expense of your youth.
John>>Don’t worry about laughing at my near death experience. It makes me chuckle to think of it too. And thanks for sharing your moment of unwisdom. I can’t tell you how many times as a child I would JUST begin to realise that what I was up to might not be such a good idea at the precise moment when a grown up would enter the scene…
I guess that, as we get older, those moments of clarity (hopefully) move forward in time to the point where you can visualise disaster BEFORE poking a fork into the power outlet, or wearing a piano-key necktie, or invading another country, or whatever…
Another great tale from the Baker.
Ted>> I’m glad that you liked that episode. I am not exactly sure what the moral of the story would be? Perhaps that wisdom is born out of stupidity and violence?
Actually, now that I think on it that CAN’T be the case… because I surely did plenty of other dopey things even after this particular story… So much for the getting of wisdom..
I will post some of the other tales later on so brace your self for more of my idiotic childhood shenanigans.
I have seen enough independent Australian films to know that there’s a dark secret here. The so-called lovable house painter was indeed the perp in this incident. (Getting flashbacks yet?) He was actually evil personified, and you were a hapless young boy who only knew how to run when you saw him approaching your mother with a machete. Something in your gigantic noggin saind ” Run James Run!”
He chased you into that cememt pillar, and when your cries of agony alerted all of Queensland, he pitched the machete behind a gumtree and quickly grabbed a brush, splatterred some paint on his trousers, made up a cockamamie story of running with your eyes shut and Bob’s your uncle!
Sorry to break the news to you, mate. For your own sake, find this man and kill, James, kill.
great story Jamie. You tell it very well. I have a similar scar on my forehead from when I thought I could swing like Spiderman and crashed into a brick planter box.
I look forward to hearing more tales.
Steve>>A very penetrating analysis.. penetrating indeed. As you know, I mainly use my noggin as a crash helmet, but you’ve obviously been puting that likewise enormous shaggy skull of yours to good use. You are clearly a thinking type. How do you get the thinking cap to fit?
Robert>>Hah hah… Spiderman eh? Ole Spidey, and all the other superheroes, are probably responsible for quite a few childhood bumps and bruises around the world over the past few decades… I think that any parent who manages to raise a boy to adulthood without him having crippled or blinded or killed himself, should be awarded a medal. My parents are already owed FIVE.
I’ve always known about this childhood incident of yours. But I hadn’t realised that it was such a fine example of precociously curiosity-driven (not to say philosophy-based)research. Rob (aka Dad)
Dad>> Oh yes, don’t let my dim-bulb exterior, or even my long history of stupidity deceive you; behind every dumb decision there is a philosophical impact-study at work.
As expected from a successful piece of literature, your story opened up a floodgate of my own stupid acts dredged from the dark recesses of my memory. Unfortunately, they aren’t relegated strictly to my childhood as I still find myself running as fast as I can with my eyes closed.
Well james, I guess there is something about poles. My niece ran into one yesterday which reminded me of a family trip to the docks to see a warship that was in town when I was a child. It amazes me now that despite the horizontal nature of the experience, ie: the water and the pier, I managed to walk into the only vertical object in sight, a pole (apart from the battleship of course). I also wonder now if in fact poles don’t have some kind of magnetic pull on people. Some sort of fatal attraction. Like when people drive through the desert and manage to hit a pole or a tree. Even if there is nothing else around. Martin
Great article Jimbo. You always could spin a good yarn :)
Painfully great story, Jamie!
I can remember an instance or two from my childhood that were similar experiments in limits…when I think of them I marvel that I made it this far. This is a good story.
Ahhhhh… the memories!
My own moment of madness involved a bicycle, a hill, a need for speed, and a plastic telescope, pieces of which became embedded in my thigh when I got my ambitions mixed up with my capabilities and hit the dirt! lol
The lesson is … we all live and learn! ;)
Ah cute – bless you..I’ve always said ‘Hindsight is a wonderful thing’ xx
Hell’s Bells! I must be getting really old, or fey, or something – or all of the above. Does anyone else suffer from Deja deja vu? Keep pannin’ for these here nuggets young ‘un. Love, Dad
You made me laugh – Love your writing Jamie x
That was quite a blow you’re little head took. It made for a funny story :)
I do not have such stories. I was a model of responsibility. My sister, on the other hand, could curl your hair with her exploits! (trying to slide down a piece of wood that was propped up on a barbed wire fence, chasing a bull in a pen, finding cotton mouths in the pond…oh so many!).
I leave all those exploits to Michelle, my sis. I was the “responsible” one.
One of my favorite stories of yours.
i just love that photo too!
HA!! Love it! Sometimes, these brilliant ideas pop into my kids head and it’s God’s divine intervention that has me tune in at just the right moment, like when Violet, my beautiful 3 year old who has very little grace, decided to swing from the rope that she and Lily had set up as a trapeze in the backyard on a branch for their circus shows. However instead of her feet or hands, this time, it was holding on by her chin. Jesus almighty that was a close call.
That really is a great photo, Man! I’ve been going back reading the other stories from the past. Fantastic stuff.
I jumped off my roof with an umbrella after watching Mary Poppins. I landed on my feet. I don’t know how I still have knees or shins and I am certain I would be two inches taller if not for this incident. I wouldn’t take it back though.
Love this Jamie!
I too have my own death-defying Mary Poppins story and you can read it here if you like:
Thanks for dropping by.
The way this thought comes over you and you hurtle yourself into the impulse playing against the painter looking over the placid landscape eating a sandwich – as he probably did every day for years – and witnessing you as hurtling impulse banging into the poll makes me think this may be one of his favorite stories too!
James growing up all those years ago we had one bike to share. Which we did. But that bike had no brakes so I would have to stop it by hitting a tree. Some may wonder why I would keep doing that…… I guess it was fun .
Great story, James! I think it’s the special purview of every little boy to have at least one “cheated silly death” experience. Glad you survived, man. Funny stuff!
Yeah, forget about ‘puppy dog tails’ and ‘snips & snails’.. dumb decisions are really what little boys are made of. I also have a story of trying to float off a roof with an umbrella, like Mary Poppins: https://www.james-baker.com/news/only-in-the-movies/
Hilarious! You’re a terrific writer, man. Kid logic is the best. I suspect all the youngsters who end up working in cartooning and animation, all had their own special, bruised relationship with gravity, in their formative years. If Wile E. can do it..!
God I love this story Jamie!
Thanks Scott. I had done these thumbnails a few years ago before my right hand went kaput. With a bit of left-handed Photoshop they came back to life.
James that’s amazing! I thought the drawings were righties from years back.
They are righties. Just with some recent Photoshop.
I still think that’s awesome. :)
Ha! I am continually amazed that there are so many adults walking around with both eyes intact.
I know, right?
I can think of several times I would be a *splat* at certain junctures of my life thread, had circumstance been only slightly different! There are probably many others that don’t come to mind! Greg is right–I’m often amazed that I’m still here!
It’s true. Anybody who’s made it to adulthood has probably survived at least a few hairbrain schemes such as this.
We adults deserve a medal!
Great to see this ripping yarn (stunning story ??) doing the rounds with very winning pics in the current style. Dad
It’s pretty cute that you just wanted to run as fast as you could though! I love the photo of you at the end. Adorable!
Dad tells me that it was he who took the photo. (I must have been running to greet him as he came home from work).
Awesome story Jamie. Love all the moments but really chuckled at the perspective of the neighbor. Ha!
Of course I could not see that angle back then (my eyes were filled with my own gore) but I imagine it must have been a surreal sight from where he sat.
Awwww! Annie says you’re a sweet person!
“sweet” being a euphemism for silly bugger.
Whenever Sab fills the trampoline with water balloons, does somersaults and eats it, or tries to feed the chickens a cherry with his mouth and gets pecked in the eye we call it “pullin’ a Baker.” Your the Proust of dumpshit shenanigans.
Such a funny story. I can vividly picture it happening.
I bet you’ve got a few of your own from that time, if you think hard enough!
Jeez, I thought of a bunch after reading your story. Like when I thought it would be daring to jump from the top of a boxcar onto a fence that caged a giant billy goat with huge horns. I ended up having a 3 inch long splinter wedged in my eyeball. I kept my eye shut for 2 days before pulling it out myself. I was more scared of getting in trouble with my Grandma than being blind.
Bwaaahaahahahaahahaaaaa! Fabulously told!