My parents, intuitively understanding my overreved brains might overheat, made me wear a buzzcut, so my head would be aircooled, much like their '67 VW Bug.
You should have seen what I looked like when that hair grew out. I had Wild Jungle Hair, just like Boy in the old Tarzan films. My mother used to strop it down with a big glob of Dippity-Do and a brush.
Here's an example of my scheming: when I was five a neighbor asked me what I was doing with a car muffler. Making a robot, I told him. And the frog? he wanted to know. Well, obviously, robots need brains. Now, as to how I was going to hook the frog up to the robot I had no idea. But I assumed that I would, somehow, figure it out.
That robot never got anywhere, since the frog – whom I had named Max – went to Frog Heaven after three days. I honestly thought I was giving him the luxury treatment. I didn't realize a frog couldn't live in an empty doughnut box, even if it was full of grass for him to eat, and a bottlecap full of water for him to drink. I felt bad for a few days after I unwittingly committed Involuntary Frogicide.
Then there was the episode of the propane torch and the hot-water heater. The same neighbor wanted to know why a six-year-old boy was using his dad's propane torch on an old hot-water heater my dad had put in the trash. Submarines need hatches, I told him. Oh, he responded.
I had no idea how I was supposed to get my submarine to the lake. I suppose I figured I could talk my father into putting it into the back of his pick-up truck.
None of those plans came close to working. The closest was when I was about eight, when I realized if I hooked up 20 or so C batteries to a belt, I could use them to shock the neighborhood thugs, all of whom were jealous of my brainpower, and therefore chased me around attempting to beat me up.
I believe that plan would have worked, except for the fact that when I asked my dad to buy me 20 batteries, he asked why, and I answered, "Oh, nothing." The look on his face told me the jig was up.
When I was about 12, I wondered if it would be possible to invent what I called Instant Knuckles. It would be an aerosol can, like Raid, with about 2,000 pounds of pressure in it. When the button was pressed, something like Silly String would shoot out, turn into a fist, and BAP BAP BAP whomever I had pointed the nozzle at. If the can could have contained 20 or so shots of Instant Knuckles, I could have walked unmolested anywhere.
My plans continued to fail even into my 20s. My seven-year-old nephew and I once built a model rocket that was taller than he was. I put five engines into it. When we hit the ignition, the rocket didn't move, but the engines exploded through the top. Then the rocket fell over on its side. For all I know, the engines are orbiting the earth, or maybe are on the moon. We never found them.
When I got to be in my 30s, I realized what I wanted to invent most of all were two things: a can of Knucklehead-Be-Gone, to be followed by a shot of Brains-in-a-Can.
The following explains why.
SMART JAPANESE: You know, I don't think it's such a good idea for us to invade China so we can have an empire, and it's probably even worse of an idea to attack the United States, which has twice our population and all kinds of natural resources.
DUMB JAPANESE: You're a coward and a traitor! You support our enemies! All patriots must stand united behind our government and our soldiers! And if you don't like it, leave the country!
DUMB JAPANESE: Hey, you know, maybe you have a point!
DUMB JAPANESE (NOW SMART): By God, you're right!
Now, let's move to Germany.
SMART GERMAN: You know, maybe this Hitler is an idiot and we shouldn't listen to his warmongering talk. He's going to get all of us into a bunch of trouble.
DUMB GERMAN: You're a coward and a traitor! You support our enemies! All patriots must stand united behind our government and our soldiers! And if you don't like it, leave the country!
DUMB GERMAN: Hey, you know, maybe you have a point!
DUMB GERMAN (NOW SMART): By God, you're right!
Now let's move to modern-day America.
SMART AMERICAN: You know, I don't think it's such a good idea to invade foreign countries that haven't invaded us. It just makes us into an empire, gets our soldiers killed, wastes billions of dollars, and makes possibly permanent enemies out of those we conquer.
DUMB AMERICAN (AKA NEOCONS AKA RUSH LIMBAUGH AKA SEAN HANNITY AKA DAVID FRUM AKA ALL OF THEM): You're a coward and a traitor! You support our enemies! All patriots must stand united behind our government and our soldiers! And if you don't like it, leave the country!
DUMB AMERICAN: Hey, you know, maybe you have a point!
DUMB AMERICAN (NOW SMART): By God, you're right!
Unfortunately, I expect this plan to fail just like all the rest of my plans.