Monday, June 15, 2009

Acting on Impulse

Rhys: I've decided that I've been too sensible for most of my life. I was a good child (except for sneaking out of church to raid the cookie jar at my friend's aunt's house) and even a good teenager and college student. I can't really think of too many wild and crazy things I've done in my life, but last week I almost remedied this.

We were driving through New York State on the way back from a conference in Canada. We had dinner at a seafood restaurant in Albany. I confess that I had lobster and didn't give it a second thought. Then on the way out I was waiting by the lobster tank as my husband went to the rest room when I saw one lobster. All the other lobsters in the tank were lying passively, accepting their fate. This one was not prepared to go gentle into that good night. He was swimming anxiously around his portion of the tank, checking every side, coming up to the surface and then going down again to see if there was any way out.
The tank was divided into three portions, for the various weights of lobsters. He found that he could put a claw under a glass partition. Then he wedged it higher and higher until he oculd get both claws and then part of his head under it. But he couldn't hold it up while he slipped under it. But he didn't give up. He kept on trying and swimming while his fellows lay there.

When John returned from the restroom he was met with the words, "Where is the nearest ocean to here?"
He thought for a moment. "Long Island, perhaps?"
"Could a lobster survive in a plastic bag that long, do you think?" I asked.
Okay, so I had this wild and crazy impulse to buy that lobster and set him free. I felt so strongly about it that I was prepared to drive miles out of our way to bring this about. Eventually John made me see sense--I was due to fly out to Chicago the next morning, with no time to drive to any seashore, and it was highly unlikely that the lobster would survive if he was dumped off Coney Island. So I left my lobster, swimming desperately around,trying to squeeze through to another section of the tank, not knowing that it was hopeless.And I'm still feeling bad. I could have done it. I could have driven an extra hundred miles or so.

So I'm asking my fellow JRRs--have you ever done something crazy on impulse?

JAN: Almost doing something on impulse? Yes. Actually following through on impulse? Not so much.
But I was impressively impulsive and stupid during my teenage years. Must have used up all that wild, insane, energy.

HALLIE: After torturing my daughters by singing along with the radio in the car, dancing to the muzak in the supermarket, skipping in the mall, and wearing my draw-string pajama bottoms outside to go pick up the newspaper off the lawn, I toned down my crazy impulsiveness, such as it was. Now that they’re grownups, it’s nearly impossible to embarrass them. I do miss it.

RO: That's a great's like the kid in E.T. who frees the frogs in biology class. I don't think I've really been impulsive for a long time. I do have this "hey kids, let's put on a show" chip. I think in a previous lifetime I was in an old Mickey Rooney movie. That sometimes strikes people as impulsive.

HANK: I know my mother isn't reading this, so I'll now admit that in college, a group of us from my school in Ohio (all women) had spent the weekend at a men's college (in Indiana). We were driving us back--and decided to go to New York City instead. We told my parents the "truth" when we stopped off to get provisions: "Where are you headed next?" "New York! ha ha."
So they thought it was a joke. But we drove for hours, stayed in a hotel (couches and floor) saw a Broadway show and came back. Very very wild. And very very innocent. (Sam Creigh? Are you out here?)
These days? Well, once I had a whole dessert. And once? I stayed up past midnight.

RHYS: I remember climbing in through someone's window in college because the door was looked at 10 p.m. I also remember sharing a flat in London and getting wild urges to go out for fish and chips at 3 a.m--wandering all over London looking for a fish shop that was still open (and one was) And now I'm about to write a vampire book,which is wild and crazy for me...

So how about it, blog-visitors: any wild and crazy things to report? I'm sure you have more to report than our comparatively tame adventures.


  1. Sorry I missed the boat yesterday--was on the road. Like Jan, I have more old stories than I care to report. Like Hank, I made an unauthorized trip to see a boy at Harvard. Only I had the bad luck to get in an accident while in Boston. No one hurt, but the Pinto was definitely crumpled on one side when I returned it to my poor father....

  2. I love the way Hank just drops in the bit about spending the weekend at a men's college...

    What a boring life I've led! The closest to wild and crazy was a spontaneous road trip from the Boston area to Chicago, for a two-day weekend, while I was in college. A friend of my roommate volunteered to drive--and I conveniently forgot that he was much into various recreational substances. He kept saying how pretty the sunset was--out the back window of the car. Should I note that the theme song for the whole trip was Brewer & Shipley's "One Toke Over the Line"? We got stopped at a speedtrap in Ohio--coming AND going!--and I have no idea what we would have done if they'd noticed his enhanced state.

    But we made it back to tell the tale.

  3. So... how many of regret NOT being more spontaneous/impulsive/crazy these days?

    I'm not sure I'm comfortable enough here to confess my own walks on the wild side. Let's just say I hope I'm not done yet.

  4. I loved everybody's tales, including Hallie's embarassing her daughters (it really doesn't take much to embarass one's children, does it?).

    I had a wild and checkered young adulthood (college and beyond, NOT in high school) on an international scale, so I'm pretty content now with fidelity, a nice glass of red wine, and sitting with my beau in our garden watching the Buddha and St. Francis watch over us. Although I do plan to visit my son in Niamey, Niger next spring (and that's pretty far into the Sahel), safe travel is the plan.

    Impulsivity can be different than risk taking, though, right? I hope!


  5. I will only admit to owning (and riding) a white horse across campus, during the heyday of streaking. On advice of my attorney, I am pleading the fifth. (And it was an excellent fifth...just sayin'...)

  6. Rhys, is that you with the lobster?

    And--vampires? Tell all!! (If you can..)

    And ah, Sheila. That's what we did, you know? It was the 60's. Late 60's. But it was actulaly incredibly tame.

    What kids do today is much scarier, far as I can see.

  7. Are you crazy, Hank? I'd never get my face that close to a lobster. Those guys have claws that can break bones. But the one I wanted to rescue was much smaller and I'm sure we could have developed a nice relationship of trust as we drove those hundred miles back to the ocean.

  8. Oh, poor lobster. My sons would have wanted you to drive.

  9. That's no New England lobster in the photo. Look ma, no big front claws. And the color's all wrong. Looks more like a European spiny lobster. Was that Chicago or Cannes that you were in, Rhys?

  10. Rhys,
    I'm thinking the lobster might not have made it on the long drive anyway, not unless you had seawater with you.

    And Edith, I think acting on impulse and risk-taking are different, especially if risk-taking involves some risk assessment beforehand!

  11. Hey! Did you see Jungle Red writers is one of the TOP TEN mystery blogs? Whoa. We are so thrilled.

    I'll find the link and put it up ...

    Thank you so much to all of you! What a wonderful and heart-warming thing...

  12. I got more impulsive in my 30s. Not reckless, but more willing to push the known edges. In 2001, I did something on impulse that still surprises me eight years later. Would do it again.

    But I think I won't impulsively post about it until well ... after...the book ... is out.

    Ask us again in 18 months! }:>

    And congratulations, Jungle Red!

  13. I went to a concert at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel in Providence one night with a college friend to see Translator, a national recording act. We met the band, who put us on their guest list for the next night at the Peppermint Lounge in NYC. We decided to drive there the next night, and see the concert in NY. We stayed in a hotel that barred the doors at night (not a 5-star) where the carpet, drapes, and bedspread were all conflicting colors and patterns (not good on a weak stomach). I remember hearing "All Night Long" by Lionel Ritchie playing on my car radio while at a stop light, with people dancing in the street to the music coming from my car. Crazy kids ;)

  14. Torrey Pines, CA. Friend said the way to kick my fear of heights would be to climb the cliff. It was illegal, it was sandstone, it was wonderful and I did it many times afterwards. Barefoot.

    Yeah, kids grow up and develop the ability to pretend they're not embarrassed that you hold your arms out, make airplane noises and swoop through the supermarket. But then, God gives you grandkids, and the fun comes back!

    No surprise that this blog is famous. I absolutely love it, the posts, the guests, the books I've found because of it. Thanks, ladies.

  15. I drove off from the middle of Kanas for a weekend with a soldier stationed in Texas. He was the brother of one of my college friends whom I'd met a month earlier. I didn't tell my mother about it until after the fact & she was aghast - mostly because of the car. It was a wreck of a car that should NEVER have been driven that many miles. I also almost ran out of gas on the way home. I was out of cash & actually found a gas station that would take a check from me.
    I also picked up a hitchhiker on I-70 on my way home for spring break. I actually took him to my mom's house for lunch!
    Definitely the sixties. I'd NEVER dream of doing either now & neither would my children.

  16. really cool post i enjoyed reading it