Warning: Some parts of this column may not be true.
Before we get started, I feel like I have to emphasize that the events I am about to relate to you did NOT and I repeat, did NOT happen in the state of Florida. Although I also feel like they could have. Quite easily. And I bet Dave Barry would back me up on this. If anybody has their finger on the weirdness pulse of Florida, Dave does.
So let’s start off by pondering this question:
What do “Alaska and Wisconsin” have in common?
The obvious answer is that “Alaska and Wisconsin” can be rearranged to “Asia Sow Ink Scandal” which might be a headline about a female Tibetan pig getting an illegal tattoo, but that’s not the answer I was looking for. The answer I was looking for concerns the shenanigans of parents and kids in Wisconsin and Alaska, specifically where moving vehicles are involved.
The first shenanigan came to my attention recently via my research assistant/office mate whom I’ll call Tanner Shpiruk (not his real name). Anyway, “Tanner” somehow heard about this Fredonia, Wisconsin resident named Amber Schmunk. Amber is currently facing a felony charge of having the common sense of a tardigrade after she was arrested on September 9, 2017 for weighting down a small plastic swimming pool she was transporting on the roof of her minivan. In Wisconsin it’s not illegal to weight down a swimming pool located on the roof of your minivan but the caveat here is that the weight happened to consist of her 9-year old son.
An alert driver noticed the diminuitive pool passenger, called police and followed Amber until she pulled over and removed her son from the roof. When the police caught up with her, Amber admitted that her son had been on top of the van, “but only for a short time, maybe 20-30 seconds.” Schmunk is also alleged to have told an officer that she thought the whole thing was OK not only because she had strapped the child to the roof but also because her father, a circus high-wire daredevil, had allowed her to do similar things when she was young.
Amber really IS facing felony charges…for second degree reckless endangerment of safety. But I think she should also have been charged for transporting a swimming pool after Labor Day. And as far as I know, Amber’s father was not a circus high-wire daredevil, but he may have graduated from the Barbara Coloroso School of Safe Parenting. (Motto: “The greatest part of each day, each year, each lifetime is made up of small, seemingly insignificant moments. Those moments may occasionally include being strapped to the outside of a moving vehicle.”)
Amber waived her right to a preliminary hearing on November 14th and is due back in court December 12th to enter a plea of: “My Dad said it was OK.”
Now parents in Wisconsin may be tough on their kids, but the kids in Alaska are tough enough, even without their parents.
It’s darned cold up there, so Alaskans in general have to be tough, and apparently this starts in early childhood when kids are encouraged to climb huge trees, wrestle bear cubs and body-surf through Class V rapids.
We really shouldn’t be too surprised then, to learn about this six year old boy who rode three miles down the Parks Highway near Wasilla, AK in early July 2013, clinging to the roof rack of his parent’s minivan before tumbling off, incurring cuts and bruises, but escaping otherwise unharmed. No one had any clue he was even up there.
The boy was picked up by another motorist and taken to a gas station, where he was ultimately reunited with his parents just as he was attempting to jump from the roof of the gas station on to a moving semi.
Police reported that on the day in question, the boy had furtively climbed atop the minivan before it left home at Mile 52 (see map) but lost his grip at Mile 49 (see map). He also admitted that this was not the first time he had done this. No charges have been laid, but police did buy the intrepid youngster some body armor. And a helmet. And some disability insurance. Lots of disability insurance, actually.
The boy, who is reputed to be distantly related to Evel Knievel, went on to join the Armed Forces and is the youngest person ever to be accepted into a Navy SEAL program. He is shown below, taking part in a precision-skydiving exercise.
So with all this going on, it’s clear that we as parents need better strategies to protect and distract our children. Once again Hammacher Schlemmer (Motto: We sell inflatable Irish Pubs!) has come to the rescue with Ride On Robotic Armor.
You can never be too nice to your peaceful allies so I think this thing is just great. And safe too. With a top speed of 1 mph only two things can go wrong:
1) Your kid will ride on it for approximately 18 milliseconds then give you the same look my dog gives me when I put something unsavory in his food dish. For those of you who don’t own pets, it’s a “Are you kidding me?” look.
2) Either you, your kid, or both of you will lapse into unconsciousness and/or fall deeply asleep from sheer boredom.
At this point, you’re probably knocking yourself on the forehead and saying:
“This is clever! Why didn’t I think of this??”
The reason you didn’t think of this is because you are probably not descended from space aliens. All the left-behind space alien descendants already work for Hammacher Schlemmer.
Next column: Hallmark Christmas Movies