There’s a Little Evel in all of Us

When I was a kid, Evel Knievel was one of my early heroes.  At around ten, Evel inspired me to try to become the world’s youngest stunt man and eventually the greatest pre-teen daredevil.

evelk.jpgI can remember devising stunts for myself to impress the neighborhood, like rolling down the driveway in a cardboard box with nails driven in it on all sides, jumping from one level to another in a shopping mall, surfing pillows down staircases, and leaping from the balcony in our house to mattresses and sofa cushions piled up in the living room.   I even remember planning to mimic Evel’s failed Caesar’s Palace fountain jump here in H-town by jumping the fountains in front of Herman Park on my bicycle.  I spent hours sitting around with friends drawing plans for the ramps and writing down meaningless mathematical problems and formulas like I had seen on a special about Evel Knievel and his planning of his big jumps.  Later in life (14 or so), I tried to impress friends by doing stupid things like hanging off of my dad’s convertible while my brother drove, surfing on top of cars, and attempting to get the highest air on a skateboard off of a launch ramp (this latter lead to a severely broken arm).

I saw that Mr. Knievel passed away yesterday.  Though I have grown out of my childish ambitions and find myself critical of the kind of thirst for fame and celebrity that would drive a man to jump the Snake River (and am terrified to think that J and T (particularly Toby) would ever be as stupid as I was in attempting to style themselves stuntmen), I will admit that seeing a picture in the paper of Evel in his ridiculous red, white, and blue jumpsuit complete with cape quickly transported me back to those care-free (and recklessly stupid) days of youth.    For that, I thank and remember him.

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