|LIFE AS A LOSER #154: "HEADBANGER'S BALL."|
|By Will Leitch||
I can hit my head against solid surfaces and objects really, really hard.
That might be perceived as flippant statement, maybe a little in-joke you dont get, or a philosophical metaphor for the struggle of the human brain to fathom the weight of existence. It is neither. Im simply telling you: I can bash my forehead into things, and it doesnt really hurt.
I first noticed this ability in junior high, which such god-given talents are discovered. Thisll come as a shock to you, but in junior high, I attempted to make up for my inadequacies and insecurities about girls by brazenly attempting to attract attention to myself. My early, crude attempts involved armpit noises, blotches of ketchup
smeared dribbled down my chin to simulate blood and, until puberty hit, impersonations of Pee-Wee Hermans voice. None of these seemed to go over well.
Then, one day, when I was trying to make Debbie Haycraft laugh on the bus ride home from school, I took my spelling book and bashed it against my face. Debbie had been telling me she was having trouble with spelling, how she just couldnt get the letters in right order, how she just couldnt make the words fit right in her head, no matter how hard she studied. I had a word-a-day calendar on my desk at home, and Id recently learned osmosis. I told her she should just try to put the book to her head, or maybe sleep on top of it, and perhaps it would all just seep in. "Watch, see," I said. And then WHAP!
The reaction was immediate. The eyes of the entire bus locked on me. Joy, the bus driver who had known me since kindergarten, mistakenly thought Id hit Debbie with the book and made me do the walk of shame to the front of the bus, sitting directly behind her, like all the troublemakers. I told her I didnt hit Debbie; it was my own head Id hit. To prove it, I smacked myself with it again. "Will!" she exclaimed. "Why in the world are you doing that?" Everyone on the bus was still staring at me. I had their rapt attention. It was exhilarating. Their looks answered Joys question, easily.
After that, I whittled my talent into an art form. During lunch, Id gather friends around and let them take shots at me with the cafeteria trays. It became rote to walk into doors face-first and then fall back dramatically, pretending I was in agony before breaking a smile to let them know that, no, I was fine. At school dances, when "Kokomo" or Bryan Adams "Heaven" would come on, I would ask a girl to dance, and when she said no, I would ram my face into the cement wall. Sure, they were horrified at first, but after a while, they were simply repulsed. It never failed to get a laugh from my friends, and it got everyone talking about me, and, really, thats all I wanted.
Eventually I even trained myself to take repeated shots, usually against some sort of table, a woodpecker-type motion: WHUP-WHUP-WHUP-WHUP-WHUPWHUPWHUP! My all-time high was 16 in a row. Even I started to get woozy about 14, though that was more because of the quick downward thrusts than anything else.
The years passed, but this skill never waned. Once I entered college, alcohol entered the equation, upping the ante. Oftentimes, toward the end of the night, everyone would gather around, making sure their glasses were off the table, and then watch the Amazing Leitchs display. Beer made me somewhat cocky, though, and a couple of times I would come up with rather large cuts in my forehead. It still never hurt, though.
We all have a little talent like this. One friend can say words backwards as easily as he can forwards. (Palindromes make his nose bleed.) Another can rattle off the names of every 80s hair metal band member, with instruments. One can bend his fingers the wrong direction so that they touch his wrist. Im sure you have one too. Mine just happens to be a resilient forehead. My talents advantage is that it makes a loud noise, and sometimes leaves a rather frightening welt. I feel like kind of a tough guy; sure, I cant lift a pair of dumbells without busting a blood vessel, but I can take as many head shots with a flat object that you can muster. There should be some sort of Strongman competition for this. Maybe I should go on Jackass.
Of course, um, Im 27 years old now, which means I do try to limit my performances for the right moments. I usually dont call people over anymore. Ive found more subtle, quiet ways to make sure everyone around pays attention to me now. But when the right moment comes, almost always at a bar, Ill pick my spot and just lay one down. The trick now relied more on the element of the unexpected; maybe well be discussing politics or something, and someone will make a point I hadnt thought of and have no instant response or comeback to. The debate has been lost. What better time? WHAP! WHAP! WHAP-WHAP-WHAP! After that, people tend to forget whatever it is we were talking about. I know I do.
And, just like junior high, its all about being noticed. Its me! Look! Look! Look at me! Im wacky! Wee!
Look! I can even do it against a keyboard! Fgo iftp uit eca etrffvm,frf4vrfvkgjuhhuyyhuddytdytduy7y8t7t6t67.
All right. Im done here. I think something just hemorrhaged.