The other morning I was eating my breakfast at work, and idly took notice of the image on the side of my McDonald's bag. It was of a herd of appropriately multi-culti, gender diverse, differently-abled kids swanning about on bicycles, complete with elbow pads, knee pads, helmets, and training wheels.
"What's up with the safety thing these days?" I mused aloud, "I've never owned a bicycle helmet. Then again, I've never owned a bike since I got my driver's license, but that's neither here nor there..."
"My parents made me wear a helmet," said my gunsmith.
"What? You're my age, Shannon. I don't remember there even being bicycle helmets when I was little. They didn't wear helmets in the friggin' Tour de France back then, probably."
"Well, it was actually a football helmet..."
"Did your parents hate you?"
When I was growing up, the best use for a bicycle helmet would have been to prevent head injuries when the neighborhood kids beat the crap out of you for wearing a bicycle helmet. It was a much more savage and lawless time on the playground in those days, and one wonders if our modern predilection for defeating Darwin won't have repercussions on the vitality of the race down the road. In these depressing times I've seen people want to go to emergency rooms for "injuries" that wouldn't have rated a Time Out from a pine cone war when I was a kid. I remember one neighborhood kid who stopped a BB during a territorial dispute back in the day...
"Gee, Bobby, you're bleeding like a stuck pig."
"Can you see the BB?"
"No, it's in there too deep. God, I'm sorry; I swear I only pumped it three times, honest."
"Maybe I should tell my mom so I can get stitches."
"Are you kidding? We'd all be grounded for the rest of our lives! Tam, go see if you can sneak some bandaids out of your house."
...and Bobby cowboyed up and drove on, and the BB gun war was forgotten, and we spent the rest of the afternoon on the same team, clearing the swamp of Orcs (or Germans or Indians or Klingons or whatever was infesting it that week.) For all I know, Bobby's still carrying that BB around in his arm.
Not today, though; today we sap and impurify kid's precious bodily fluids by swaddling them in bubble wrap from their first breath 'til the age of majority, when we then expect them to vote responsibly and make wise financial decisions. We need to stop. We need to weed out the slow and the stupid again. We need to let Darwin back into the home. Take the covers off your outlets. Store your dangerous household chemicals in the middle of the living room floor. Keep a pet Bengal tiger.
Please, it's for the good of the species.