Nothing brings out the stupid like a summer vacation and a little family rivalry.
And people in their 40s should sign medical waivers before performing cannonballs and back flips off a lakeside swimming dock.
“What do you think you are doing?” I hollered at my husband, having just spotted him balanced with heels hanging over the edge of the dock, back to the water and in what appeared to be a countdown to launch position.
“A backward tuck and twist,” he quickly responded before jerking his thumb to the left. “I’m not sure what this joker is planning.”
The joker beside him was my brother-in-law. Equal in age and what appeared to be IQ, he simply nodded and gave the universal sign for insanity: two thumbs up.
Before I could remind them that the odds of successfully performing such a maneuver at their advanced stage of age really wasn’t in their favor, they yelled, “THREE-TWO-ONE-GO!” and hurled themselves backward into space.
Time stopped for one brief moment as they hung there in silence.
Then all hell broke loose.
Arms went one way. Legs another. An elbow flew out and shot the other one in the nose. A foot ended up in someone’s stomach, and a scream that rivaled an 8-year-old girl at a Hannah Montana concert tore through the air.
It finished with a deafening splash and a wake big enough to cause a tsunami and wipe out a small fishing village in New Guinea.
The rest of us stood in silence, waiting for some small sign the maniacs had survived their suicidal leap.
With baited breath, one head popped up through the surface. Shortly followed by another. They shouted their jubilation while coughing up half the lake and slowly swimming back to higher ground.
I sighed in relief then turned to hear my 5-year-old son scream, “That was AWESOME! Can I do that?”
Wearing red swimming trunks with a bright yellow life jacket wrapped around his body and blue goggles strapped to his head, he was a kaleidoscope of colors on that hot summer day.
And he was entirely too cute to follow in such undesirable footsteps of the family elders, Thelma and Louise.
“No,” I said. “You can NOT do that.”
“But, Mom,” he managed to eek out before I interrupted with an “over my dead body.”
Then - before anyone else knew what was happening - my other brother-in-law tore across the dock, screamed, “GERONIMO!” and took a header into the lake.
I was surrounded by crazy.
And not in a good way, like at a shoe sale or opening day.
No, in a we’re-so-gonna-end-up-on-YouTube crazy kinda way.
I shook my head in disbelief then turned to hear my only child scream, “GERANIUM!” and jump into the air, following his uncle into the water.
While it was unbelievably cute that he had misheard his uncle’s war cry and instead replaced it with an ode to flora, I had obviously lost control of the situation.
Not that I ever really had it in the first place. Welcome to my life.
The afternoon continued with siblings attempting to - and succeeding in - throwing each other off jet skis. Summer’s favorite past time behind making s’mores and drinking beer.
Or was that drinking beer and making s’mores?
Anyway, we watched as pinwheels of arms and legs spun across the water as their bodies were hurled from the racing watercraft, skidding off the surface for several feet then sinking below out of sight.
In between bursts of laughter from the gallery, I leaned over to inform my son that while watching Dad perform selections from “America’s Funniest Home Videos” really wasn’t safe and please don’t think about doing this when you’re older but if you do have the heart to make sure I’m dead first.
And then they graduated to that wonderful sport that turns grown men into boys whose maturity level has yet to sprout past the fifth grade.
They rocked. They rolled. They bounced. They bucked.
They scared fish and performed stunts that are probably illegal in many states.
And everything was fine and dandy.
Right up until the next morning.
When they realized there weren’t enough pain killers in the world to make life right again.
And there’s a lesson in that for all of us.