I am not Jill.
Okay, now that we have that cleared up, let’s talk about ruining things for stupid reasons.
(I started with “B” instead of “A” because “B” is the first letter of “Ballzooka.”)
Exhibit B is the Ballzooka.
The Ballzooka is a beloved, discontinued Nerf gun. I had one. I had one, and it was awesome. But, as I got older and ventured further into my teenage years, I (quite naturally) stopped shooting friends and relations with Nerf guns and instead started running around the woods, pretending to shoot friends and relations with fake, plastic guns.
When shooting friends and relations with fake, plastic guns, one desires, of course, to have the most “realistic” fake gun possible. For the Downs boys — rugged outdoors types who spent their free time building things like trebuchets — that meant painstakingly crafting custom sniper rifles (and ghillie suits). For me, that meant covering a squirt gun in black spray paint.
One day, I noticed that back end of the Ballzooka bore an uncanny resemblance to an MP5 sub-machine gun. (I was familiar with the MP5 because my mom let me play Rainbow Six — a videogame in which the player searches whimsical, brightly colored worlds for six lost Rainbow Fairies and then shoots them with an MP5.)
So, reasoning that I was through with stupid, kiddie Nerf crap, I broke off the “ball” portion of the Ballzooka, and spray painted the rest of the gun black.
I regret nothing.
Wait, that didn’t come out right. I meant to say, I regret ruining what has become a much-sought-after vintage Nerf gun in order to “create” a completely unconvincing fake sub-machine gun that I never really used anyway because just a few short years I discovered Airsoft replicas.
I would say that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, but it doesn’t come close to the time when, as a six year old, I traded a friend of mine a Kirby Puckett rookie card for a plastic hand grenade. (I must’ve always had a thing for fake-killing people. I blame society.) The worst part wasn’t even that Kirby Puckett was my favorite baseball player. (As a Minnesotan child of the ’80s could I have had another?)
The worst part was that approximately ten minutes after my friend left, I discovered that the grenade had been stuffed with a used pair of whitey tighties.
Later that day, I’d determined that the only way to get any value whatsoever out of the trade would be to unleash the same “surprise” on an unsuspecting sibling. Knowing my brothers were in the basement, I walked over to the upstairs laundry chute and tossed the grenade down.
It wasn’t a great plan. Even if everything had gone perfectly — my brothers hear the grenade come down, open it, recoil in disgust, and then projectile vomit all over each other — I still wouldn’t have been there to see it. But, needless to say, everything did not go perfectly.
The grenade didn’t even make it down the chute. You see, our house had the worst laundry-chute design in the world. First, the upstairs chute was tiny, just wide enough to accommodate (barely) a single, flattened-out gym sock — not the comforters, coat hangers, and board games that we routinely shoved down. Second, the shape was all wrong.
The easist way to describe this is, as always, in terms of Tetris.
Most laundry chutes are designed in a straight, vertical line — just like the Tetris shape that everyone loves.
But our laundry chute was designed like the Tetris shape that everyone hates.
And so, as you’ll see from the following diagram, my plan was destined for failure from the start.
Where was I again? Oh yeah, ruining things for stupid reasons.
For years, the official Reini Wiffle ball home plate has been the bottom of a tee-ball tee (with the “tee” part removed). I’m sure I tore the tee off at about nine years old after deciding that hitting off of tees was for stupid babies. Little did I know at that time that hitting off a tee would become a regular part of high school baseball practice, and it would’ve been really handy to have had a functioning tee at home. But then, as an arrestedly developed young adult, I played a ton of Wiffle ball, and I was glad to have the tee-less plate again. But now that my kids are approaching tee-ball age, I kind of wish they had a tee. But in a few years, they’ll think hitting off a tee is for stupid babies.
So, I guess the lesson is buy two of everything, including iPads.