Kids are stupid, Part MCMLXVII: How I voluntarily stopped my own heart

This week, a story broke about Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams, who was stabbed in the leg by his brother in what they termed a playful “wrestling match.” A wrestling match. With knives. Know what I say to that?


All right, I wouldn’t say that to their faces. First off, both of them could pull me apart like a buffalo wing. Second, as a rule, it’s wise not to piss off guys who knife-wrestle. But still: I can top that story.

I, like most of you, grew up in the pre-litigation days of childhood, when your every move hadn’t already been forecast and risk-assessed by an armada of personal-injury lawyers (or, for that matter, Facebooked by your parents). But this isn’t an in-my-day rant. No, based on this story, I’d rather my kids stay inside and play Xbox all the live-long day.

Anyway, on weekday afternoons we’d wander around my neighborhood, which was the very definition of safe suburbia. We’d mix with the usual hierarchy of grades, bigger kids holding sway over wide-eyed young’uns, high schoolers ruling all when they deigned to join us.

When I was around fifth or sixth grade, a strange “game” spread through the underground kid-rumor network. Called “Pass Out,” it involved this: doing a bunch of deep-knee bends, then standing against a wall, crossing your arms over your chest, and having other people press on your chest until you, yes, passed out.  Brilliant, huh? (For once, one of those alarmist “here’s what kids are doing these days!” articles was correct, albeit decades late.)

One afternoon, succumbing to peer pressure — you did it too, you know it — I played Pass Out, leaning against a brick mailbox as three or four kids pressed on my chest. Boom, down I went. I remember waking up and feeling like I was coming to after a deep sleep, although I was apparently only out for a couple seconds. (Fun note: I noticed that exactly none of the seven or eight kids around me was in any way concerned, which was enough for me to never do the Pass Out game again.)

It was an insanely stupid, dumb, ridiculous, irresponsible thing to do, which is why idiot 12-year-olds were doing it constantly. As far as I know, there were no lasting effects … unless all this and all of you are nothing but my extended dream, and I’m going to wake up a fifth-grader again. That would be kind of awesome.


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