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Apparently “stupid” is not a synonym for “silly.” Stupid” means senseless, foolish and potentially dangerous, whereas “silly” means absurd, ridiculous and funny. It took me way too long to know the difference between the two.

For example, it was stupid of 7-year-old me to ride my bike down a steep, rocky hill, going ass over teakettle. That resulted in a trip to the ER and multiple stitches, accompanied by parental ranting and raving.

“How could you have been so stupid?” Mom screeched. Notice, she did not say “How could you have been so silly?” Unlike stupid stunts, no body parts are involved when you’re involved in a silly caper.

Although I came early to Stupid, I was a late-bloomer when it came to Silly. That all started with going to a play in San Francisco called “Harvey.” It was about a gentleman (Elwood P. Dowd) whose best friend was an imaginary 6-foot rabbit, named Harvey.

Nobody except Elwood (played by Jimmy Stewart in the movie) could see Harvey. They could only hear Elwood’s side of their conversations, but I could see Harvey as clearly as I could see Elwood P. Dowd. Harvey always wore a bow tie and a fedora that had two holes cut out for his ears.

How, you may ask, could I know what he looked like if he was imaginary? Thankfully, Elwood had a portrait painted of Harvey which hung above the fireplace, so of course I knew what he looked like. To be honest, I think I knew what he looked like before I saw the portrait, but I don’t often tell people that.

About that time, I had a Spanish teacher, named Mrs. Webber, who was one of those rare individuals who not only understood the teenage mind, she even seemed to enjoy actual teenagers. For that alone, she should have been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

To put a smile on her face, I decided to anonymously post amusing drawings of Harvey in her classroom. There were drawings of Harvey bowling, playing tennis, skiing, golfing, horseback riding, conducting a symphony, reading Kafka. He was truly a Renaissance Rabbit. I also placed carrot-based food products on Mrs. Webber’s desk: a bunch of carrots, carrot cake, carrot juice.

As my obsession grew, I began to post drawings all over the school. Students and faculty wondered who was behind the Harvey phenomenon. Mrs. Webber didn’t seem to know who was responsible either, but she seemed genuinely amused. Once I came into her classroom and she was munching on a carrot, the greens still attached. That image reminded me of another famous rabbit who munched on carrots and often said, “What’s up, Doc?” I believe Harvey and Bugs would have been BBFs. Country rabbit and city rabbit.

The whole caper eventually shut down when the principal announced at a school assembly that it was time for Harvey to move on as there was no longer room to post important safety notices.

My next caper occurred in the crazy ‘60s when I put 24 pairs of dress gloves in the glove compartment of my car because I figured there had to be a reason it was called a glove compartment. A policeman pulled me over for driving without lights on a dark and stormy night. When I opened the glove compartment to retrieve the registration, the gloves tumbled out. He seemed to think I was up to something nefarious. No, just silly.

My latest caper started when I saw a car with eyelashes driving down the street. That’s right, eyelashes. I had to have them. It would certainly give some personality to my car that couldn’t decide if it was grey or blue and looked like a shoe box.

I went to several auto supply stores and asked if they carried eyelashes for cars. Every clerk gave me a blank look, shook his head, and shooed me out of the store.

Finally, I found what appeared to be a very serious auto supply store. Big, burly grease-stained guys talked about gudgeon pins, poppet valves, spider gears, shake damper and vibrator absorbers, and knuckles.

I asked a clerk if they carried eyelashes for cars.

“Say, what?” he asked.

“Eyelashes,” I repeated. “For cars.”

He glanced around the store. “Guess you could try the Accessories Department since I don’t see a sign for a Really Stupid Accessories Department.”

I located the Accessories Department and finally found on the bottom shelf, way in the back, one lone pair of eyelashes. Sweet victory!

Those lashes have been on my car for over a year. They attract comments and smiles every place we go. Young kids and seniors seem particularly enamored. Regular adults, on the other hand, don’t even notice the lashes as they are too busy just trying to figure out life.

Relaxing in my beloved Barcalounger as I sipped my chardonnay, I pondered my next silly caper. I’m thinking the expression “if only these walls had ears” might be worthy of a caper.

Linda Hamner is a published author and former soap opera writer who won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1991 as part of the "Santa Barbara" writing team. She has lived in Philomath since 2006.


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