“Oh, what the hell!”

“She asked me what made me do such a thing. That is an awkward question because I often can’t tell what makes me do things. Sometimes I do them just to find out what I feel like doing them.”

― L.M. Montgomery

“Have you ever noticed how ‘What the hell’ is always the right decision to make?” 

― Terry Johnson

Were I to write my autobiography, I think the hardest part would be trying to explain my youthful escapades, all those things that I did for some inexplicable reason, things that should have resulted in my death but, I’m pretty sure, didn’t. (I mean, one of them might have, how can one really know the existance one is experiencing now isn’t something else? But that’s a discussion for another day.)

As a kid, was a bit of a daredevil. Or maybe just stupid, I don’t know. It’s a long list, but I’ll share just one example: 

The street I lived on was a steep hill. There were six other boys living on our street and every summer we built what was then called “soapbox cars” (why, I have no idea, they were cars, but I don’t recall any soap). We built them out of scrap wood nailed together to form a box, old axle shafts and wheels purloined from unused baby carriages and the like, and rope tied to the front axle to steer the thing. Sort of a homemade gokart. Of course, the test of our workmanship was to see if it could successfully go down the hill without falling apart and the steering worked well enough to avoid crashing into parked cars, curbs or telephone poles, and able to negotiate a hard left turn at the bottom to avoid running into a small ditch where the street ended. Naturally, someone had to be the first to try it, test pilot (so to speak). Everytime, we’d all stand beside our creation and argue who it would be. Inevitably, the arguing would stop with everyone looking at me.

And I’d say, “Oh, what the hell,” climb in and, with an assisted push by the others, immediately begin a fast and heady heart-thumping ride.

Many were quite successful and we spent much of the day trading off to see who could finish the fastest. Many were not so sucessful – usually the first runs which highlighted where we’d made some structural error in our construction (like a wheel falling off or the steering rope breaking). These usually resulted in crashing into something (like a parked car). And I’ve already said who the driver was, and he – me – usually had some wound as a result. And I’d limp home for some TLC from Mom.

And face the inevitable question, “What made you do such a thing?”

To which I could only awkwardly answer, “I don’t know, just felt like doing it, and it was FUN!”

And I could only chuckle when, as a father, one of my boys would come home, limping, already knowing the answer to my question, “What made you do such a thing?”

Already knowing whatever it was, it was FUN!

– Bill


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