Showing courage and ‘being stupid’ a blurry divide
The very notion of “courage” has always fascinated me.
As a child, I strictly identified courage as the Western hero in movies facing off against his foe in a high-noon shootout in the middle of town, or John Wayne charging an enemy machine gun nest to protect his brothers in arms. While those were certainly examples of people displaying courage, my understanding and appreciation of the word was somewhat limited in scope.
As the years went by, my definition of the term gradually began to evolve, and I started recognizing courage in other actions — such as asking the cute girl in social studies if she’d be my girlfriend or fessing up to my father that it was me who broke the lamp by playing Nerf ball in the living room, even though I was told time after time that I shouldn’t be playing in said living room and when was I going to get it through that thick skull of mine that ...
But I digress.
I basically settled on the idea that people do not have to place themselves in grave danger to display courage. No, it’s more about stepping out of one’s comfort zone and overcoming any fears to simply do what needs to be done. It takes courage to ask for a raise. It takes courage to stand up for one’s personal beliefs in a room filled with people who couldn’t disagree more with you. It takes courage to pick on our publisher when one sales rep is out on maternity leave and Memorial Day is right around the corner and ...
Second digression. Bonus week!
As my definition of the word has changed, so have other realities associated with the word. For instance, one doesn’t have to look too hard to find examples of misplaced courage — or, as my father called it when I was young, “being stupid.” In that vein, it’s misplaced courage that leads a guy who weighs 120 pounds dripping wet to pick a fight with a 300-pound guy who looks like he washes his steaks down with a bucket of nails. But I’ve seen it happen, with predictable results.
It also takes misplaced courage, or “being stupid,” to follow through on certain bets. Actually, maybe making the bet in the first place is the “being stupid,” and following through is “misplaced courage.” Sometimes they get a little muddy.
For example, Russell Mark won the double trap gold medal for Australia in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He is still a prominent athlete, and will be participating in this summer’s games to try to recapture his place at the top of the world, and to proudly represent Australia with his performance.
However, Mark made a bet regarding an Australian Football League match between Melbourne-based Carlton and St. Kilda, according to Reuters. Mark’s team lost the match, and he was on the hook for a proposition bet pay-off at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. While the rest of the Australian Olympic team will be wearing green blazers and white slacks, Mark will be wearing a “mankini.”
I’ll wait for a minute and let you Google exactly what we’re talking about when we say “mankini.”
Back? Feeling a little nauseous now? Did you find a stock picture of a man sporting a mankini, or did you stumble on the photo on Ryan Saxton’s Facebook page?
Look, I’ve done a lot of crazy things to pay off bets over the course of my lifetime. The first time I ever shaved my head was because the San Diego Chargers got blown out in a Super Bowl. Another time, I could only “meow” at a poker table in Reno for four hours because of a lost bet over my ability (or, lack thereof, as it turns out) to jump over a parked car. Admittedly, not proud moments in my life.
But this is the Olympics, and this is a stage where Mark is representing more than just himself. In that regard, he is embarrassing more than himself. While there is probably a bit of misplaced courage in him undertaking this stunt, it’s more “being stupid.”