Have you ever done that thing where a little voice in your head says, very clearly: DON’T DO THAT! It’s a bad idea! And then, you just go ahead and do the thing you know you shouldn’t do, and then of course the bad thing happens just like you thought it would if you did?
So my best bud from up the street(I can’t say her name cuz she’s too embarrassed) dropped by for a visit. But she couldn’t stay long, she said, cuz she had to go for her followup blood test. Blood test? I asked. Yeah, she said, looking at the ceiling for a moment. Blood test. Anyway—wait a minute, why do you need a blood test? Well, I got stuck by a needle—so how’s your— Hang on, wait! You got stuck by a needle?! How’d you manage that?! (she not being of the habit or in the line of work that deals with hypodermics on a regular basis). OK she says, sighing deeply. I was walking the dog down the Drive and I bent to pick up the poo, and as I bent down I saw a needle lying by the curb. I didn’t want anyone to get stuck with it (she being the kind of person who would consider that), so I picked it up, and… I got stuck.
Wait slow down, I said as she tried to change the subject. Whoa back. Whatdja do, pick it up by the wrong end? Well no, she said. It had a cap on it so I, um, I picked it up and put it in my pocket. And then I forgot about it til I reached into my pocket for some change and ow!! It stuck me in the bum. Oh NO, really?! Yup. So then when I pulled it out of my pocket I stuck myself in the finger. And then when I tried to put the cap back on, I was all flustered so I stuck myself again. You whaaaaat?! Uh, yup. I stuck myself three times.
So then we totally laughed our asses off because c’mon admit it, YOU HAVE DONE THIS. I vividly remember the time I was working in a bindery and I couldn’t get the plug for the little iron out of the wall socket and I said, attention, self: DO NOT use that screwdriver to pry the plug out of the outlet, it’s a terrible idea, don’t … ZZZZAP!!!. Right. My recent bike blunder was exactly one of those explicit monologues. Carmen, I said, DO NOT ride up that slick steep curvy unpaved road with that huge load of junk on one side of your bike, it is a BAD IDEA, right? Right!.…wham.
These are the moments where if life was a movie, the audience would yell out NOOOO! DON’T GO AFTER THE CAT! Right after everyone on the spaceship agrees that they need to stick together, and then she goes off alone to look for the cat and gets eaten by the alien. DON’T DO IT! And then, acid space goo.
But we do these things. Why? I think it’s like, having considered this action and acknowledging that it is totally inadvisable, we’ve now somehow innoculated ourselves, and believe that we can now go ahead and do this really stupid thing. It’s a weird kind of superstitious behavior, like casting a lucky spell. I’ve done this so many times. Mostly I like to think that now, having busted my body and almost electrocuted myself and gone home with that guy enough times, that when I hear that voice I give it due respect. But clearly, not always. And when I don’t listen I still pay the price.
Isn’t it just amazing, how clever we are when it comes to playing mind tricks on ourselves.