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Dan Wegmueller: People can do really dumb things
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My friends, if you are like me, you may have done one or two stupid things in your life. Just last summer, in a moment of sheer brilliance, I decided to paint the underside of the dormers on my house roof - three stories above a hard gravel driveway. Lying on my back on the roof, I painted away in sheer bliss. I had forgotten all about the wasp nest I had been watching - and meaning to destroy but never got to it - all summer long.

When put to the test, humans can accomplish the most wondrous of feats. We have walked on the moon. We can breathe underwater so efficiently that even a rural Wisconsin farm kid can own his own scuba gear. Likewise, every human with some spare cash can learn how to fly.

Then why is it people can turn around and be so, so stupid?

Well, the world is simply brimming with morons - no doubt about that. For example, take a certain motorist in Melbourne, Australia, who noticed that he had a fuel leak. Rather than bite the bullet for a new tank, he jerry-rigged a plastic jug to the inside of his engine compartment. The only problem: the homemade device splashed a steady stream of gasoline across the spark plugs and distributor cap. As Chaz Michael Michaels would say, "Boom!"

Another driver, again Australian, was perplexed when the driver's side seat collapsed under his weight. Undeterred, he propped up the seat with a wooden two-by-four and, get this, an unopened bottle of beer. Later he told police, "Empty bottles didn't support [my] weight and kept breaking."

In Australia, stupidity is not reserved for those behind the wheel. A man decided to rob a bank, but was lacking a proper disguise. His solution: paint his face and then wash off the makeup after committing the crime. Unfortunately for him, he used a permanent magic marker. Another guy, clad in an oversized trench coat, nearly got away with robbery, until he threw the jacket into a dumpster. Police easily tracked him to his house - his mother had stitched his address to the inseam.

Speaking of Australian robberies gone badly, a male youth made the life-changing decision to break into the Adelaide zoo. Since it has become politically incorrect to use the word "fat," as a soup this guy would be shelved under "Campbell's Extra Chunky." Not seeking cash, he scaled the fence, smashed an ice cream vending machine, and would have gotten away - except he slipped on his way out and impaled himself on a decorative wrought iron fence. The next morning, he was still clutching a Cadbury ice cream cone.

In neighboring Melbourne, two robbers thought it brilliant to heist a local restaurant. On the day of infamy, the pair of thieves grabbed what they thought was the Cuckoo Restaurant's daily take - approximately $26,000 worth of cash. On their way out, one of the robbers shot the other in the "buttocks." More bad news - turns out the sack they stole was full of stale bread rolls.

All of the previous stories are true, verifiable by various Australian newspaper clippings I have acquired by means of friends. Although I cannot guarantee the authenticity of the following tales, they are entertaining nonetheless:

In Georgia (time to lay off the Aussies - Americans can be pretty dumb, too) a man decided that his "buttocks" needed to be fuller and more voluptuous. Rather than fork out expensive medical fees, he had a friend do the deed. Unfortunately, the man died after his friend administered the injection using silicone purchased from a nearby auto parts store.

In Indiana, two men were arrested after deciding to get stoned on marijuana in their hotel room. They were unaware that the entire wing of the hotel was being rented out for a police seminar on drug detection. This probably occurred in Gary.

Nor is stupidity reserved for men: In Florida, near the Miami airport (which is appropriate), a woman complained of an odor in her hotel room. It was eventually traced to her bed, beneath which was a body believed to have been there for three weeks.

Across the fruited plain in San Diego, a woman burst into flame after lighting a cigarette. Police described her as "having used too much hairspray."

Also in California (again, this is appropriate), a vacationing woman just simply could not get her 22-foot premium speedboat to perform. It was sluggish, plowed water and would not maneuver properly. Nothing she could do corrected the problem, and the boat floundered ineffectively in the water. Exasperated, she sputtered to a nearby marina, where perplexed mechanics could not diagnose the problem - topside everything checked out. Even the stern drive seemed to be in working order. Finally, one of the marina officials jumped into the water to take a look at the boat's underside. The lady, who was listed as being blonde, was informed that her Bayliner was perfectly fine - all she had to do was remove it from the trailer.

And finally, again on the west coast, a Seattle man was desperate for some gasoline. Rather than go through the hassle of actually having to purchase it, he decided to siphon some fuel from a parked mobile home. After all, siphoning gas is easy - just stick a hose into the fuel tank and suck on it until a good stream is established. Police arrived on the scene to find a sick man and a pool of spilled sewage. The owner of the mobile home did not press charges, claiming that, "It was the best laugh [I'd] ever had."

As I mentioned earlier, humans are capable of amazing feats. But, we can also be pretty dumb, as illustrated by me last summer, as I laid motionless on my roof as a swarm of insects buzzed about my head. At least I wasn't completely idiotic - I didn't try to jump.

- Dan Wegmueller of Monroe writes a weekly column for Friday editions of the Times. He can be reached at