Ship of Fools

24 Mar

Do you know what I discovered?  April fool’s Day is almost upon us and to my chagrin, the older I get the more patently aware I am of having played the fool in my youth and having almost derailed my fragile life.

Fly You Fool


The word “fool” is not a popular word now—at least it isn’t as potent as it was in my youth and in the way only older Black folks could use it in the day:

  • “You old fool!” (when referencing an older person—usually a man—who never let go of his childish ways—specifically chasing after young girls or trying some foolish get-rich quick scheme)
  • “Go on fool, Hell ain’t half full yet!” (when chastising a driver with a lead foot, or a womanizer, or a ‘ho’)
  • “Damn fool!” (anybody who was held in judgment by the speaker—the speaker usually being your mother or grandmother)
  • “Shut up, fool; I ain’t talkin’ to you!” (directed toward anybody that got on the speaker’s nerves)


Noun—a person who acts unwisely or imprudently; a silly person: “what a fool I was to do this” (simpleton – dolt – tomfool – ninny – nincompoop).

Adjective—foolish or silly (foolish – daft – goofy – fatuous – idiotic – asinine)

Water Prank Motleynews dot net

Foolish Prank||image from

The most foolish thing I’ve ever done (that almost cost me my future and my life) was after winning a four-year scholarship out of the ghetto and a string of foster homes and orphanages to a college about 20 minutes or so from Kent State University, I let some guy I hardly knew talk me into participating in an attempted take-over of my college’s administration buildings shortly after the Kent State Massacre.  I believed the asshole when he said there would be no guns, and we’d be protesting racism on the campus and not the Viet Nam War.  Not only did we get caught (the organizer of the coup tipped the “po-po”in the hopes there would be a shoot-out), but we were almost killed by state cops already on edge from the Kent State debacle.  Most of my peeps were thrown out of school.  It was determined that since I wasn’t carrying any weapons, and my responsibilities only included providing the catering and entertainment for the revolution (God help my foolish sorry-ass!), and that I was on the Dean’s list to boot, I would not be kicked out of school, so long as I kept my nose clean and out of trouble until I graduated the following year.  The entire scenario turned out to be a loosely tagged-team scheme tied to the Kent State mayhem in order to manipulate a race war that would add to a SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) nationwide, anarchist upheaval.  I almost got killed for fried chicken, manipulated by people I didn’t know, who didn’t give two shits about me.   God, what a fool I was!

In case you are one of the few who have never been a fool but fear your time might be drawing nigh, here are a few examples of modern-day fools to help steer you clear of the fool abyss:


“Rodman visited the reclusive North Korean leader (Kim Jong Un—parenthesis mine) at the end of February. At the conclusion of the trip, the basketball star spoke glowingly of Kim to members of the media. ‘I love him,’ Rodman said. ‘The guy’s really awesome.’ By Ryan Grenoble for Huff Post World

Rodman and Kim Jung Un

Dennis Rodman and North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un



“While there’s little current data about the number of people injured while texting, more than 1,000 pedestrians visited emergency rooms in 2008 after they were injured while using a cellphone to talk or text. That had doubled each year since 2006, according to a study conducted by Ohio State University.”—By Casey Neistat for The New York Times

Twitter Run Over



“It took six months for Chance Bothe, 21, to recover after flipping his truck into a ravine while texting and driving. He broke nearly every bone in his body.”—By Charlie Wells for New York Daily News

Texting while driving



“Earlier this week, Wayne LaPierre wrote a giddily batshit insane column opining that what we need around here is more guns, all the time, everywhere, because you never know when the zombie apocalypse is going to wander off the nearest bus and where will your government be then, hmm? As partial defense of his premise, he used Hurricane Sandy as an example of a situation where people really, really ought to have hauled off and shot some folks.” By Hunter for Daily Kos

Waynes world

I am discovering that you can start out your adulthood trying not to make a fool of yourself and hoping to make a difference in the world with the most heartfelt naiveté.  But then you can screw up your life by thinking you’re only going to a “sit-in” with a bucket of chicken but it’s really two steps to your potential death.  Being a fool is costly but you don’t know how costly sometimes until many years later. 

I am convinced that the foolish things we do in our teens will have consequences in our twenties, the foolish choices we make in our twenties will have us paying the cost throughout our forties, and the stupid things we do in our thirties will haunt us to our grave.  I aligned myself with doctrines and dogmas (both left and right wing) in my youth of foolishness that cause me to shutter sitting from a perch of wisdom in my old age.  This is why the young so desperately need the old as mentors on their journey of life.  Too bad the young are usually too foolish to listen.

Mr. T

“Mr. T”

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”Proverbs 17:28, Bible

“Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.”—Elbert Hubbard

It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others and to forget his own.”—Marcus Tullius Cicero

      “Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.”—African Proverb


Rodman and LaPierre Fools End


Posted by on March 24, 2013 in Uncategorized


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24 responses to “Ship of Fools

  1. Jean W

    March 24, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Ahhh, fools…. I know one(or two)! 😉

    • etomczyk

      March 24, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      Yes, I was thinking of several when I wrote this. 🙂

  2. imagesbytdashfield

    March 24, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    RYAO….I have got to use that in a sentence somewhere sometime soon! I can think of a few dumb ass foolish things I’ve done in my life; good heavens I have! But as my momma used to say “I didn’t get this old being foolish!” or was that stupid? Either way, watch out for the damn fools out there and I love the images and quotes you find 🙂

    • etomczyk

      March 25, 2013 at 11:59 am

      TD: I thought the same thing about RYAO. That cartoon made me howl! I must say this texting while moving, whether by feet or vehicle, has truly gotten out of hand. What a nutty people we are.

  3. becomingcliche

    March 24, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    The Bible rarely makes me laugh out loud, but that Proverb never fails to do so!

    My kids and I watched a kid skateboard across eight (EIGHT!) lanes of busy traffic with no helmet. While texting. I called the kids’ attention to it saying “Look quick, kids! You don’t see that level of stupid often. They usually get removed from the gene pool!”

    • etomczyk

      March 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      BC: Ha! I cannot imagine someone crossing 8 lanes of traffic while texting. I can hardly text properly riding in a car while someone else is driving. Good grief. And at that moment I’d be hoping my kids thought it was stupid and not “cool” and fearless. Sometimes you never know how kids perceive things.

      • becomingcliche

        March 25, 2013 at 3:59 pm

        yeah, my kids said “Wow. That’s kind of stupid.” Whew!

  4. eurobrat

    March 24, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    I know I’ve made some foolish decisions in my past as well…the art of living also consists of being able to let go and forgive yourself for those moments of foolishness 😉

    And ah Dennis, Dennis…I love how he followed up his North Korea trip with the attempted audience with the Pope…since he’s got “his people in Rome” 😉

    • etomczyk

      March 25, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      So true, so true Eurobrat. I’m big on the forgiveness of myself and others. It’s the only way to roll!

      Dennis Rodman is the poster-boy of “Fool.” He’s what every black grandmother was thinking when they created the definitions of what a fool is. Everytime Rodman opens his mouth and comes out in public, I am mortified.

      • eurobrat

        March 25, 2013 at 7:38 pm

        Ha, me too. He’s an embarrassment to the country X)

  5. composerinthegarden

    March 24, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Eleanor, I’m glad you survived that experience. We probably all have a few moments of foolishness that still make us squirm in our seats. But, on the other hand, think of all the great songs written about being a fool! “What Kind of Fool Am I?” “Fools Rush In” “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” “Fool on the Hill” “Ship of Fools” “What a Fool Believes” etc. etc. etc. Great fodder for inspiration – love the post!

    • etomczyk

      March 25, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      Lynn, you are so right! In fact, can we have great art without pain, which is a by-product of being a fool?

  6. Ronnie Hammer

    March 24, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    When I think of some of the stupid things I did I shudder to think of what could have happened. If I had dome them in today’s climate I wouldn’t have been writing a comment to you now.

    Good post!

    • etomczyk

      March 27, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      Isn’t it the truth, Ronnie. Today’s climate is so over-exposed and unforgiving that most of the Baby-Boomers would be toast if we did some of the foolish things from our past today. I’m amazed that so many of us made it through alive. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Valentine Logar

    March 24, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    We have all had moments of foolishness in our life. If we survive them and learn from them, we grow wise. If not, well let us hope those who do not are also sterile.

    I am grateful you survived!

    • etomczyk

      March 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm

      Val. You are so correct! WW just told me a quote which applies to our own foolishness as well as the foolishness of others who affect our lives: “The measure of success is how we handle disappointment.” We all have clay feet and make poor choices from time to time, but it’s how we handle the consequences that determine our outcome. Thanks for commenting and warm hugs to you!

  8. notquiteold

    March 25, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I am glad you did not get kicked out of college. And I often wonder about our gun-toting population (of which I know many) – Why are they such cowards? I go whereever I want and I am not afraid. And so does my 89 year old mother. Is LaPierre and his many followers more of a coward than my mother?

    • etomczyk

      March 27, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      Nancy: I can’t even begin to figure out LaPierre. He makes my head hurt–badly. I’m just hoping the sane people will have the final word over the foolish people with the bullhorns and the money. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. aFrankAngle

    March 26, 2013 at 9:31 am

    RYAO … OMG … now that’s funny. …. also loved the group photo getting wet.

    Meanwhile, you always do a good job of being able to laugh at yourself. As with your KSU story, youthful ignorance and questionable judgment, but that’s not a valid excuse when we get older … after all, we are supposed to be wiser … but hey, your examples show that older doesn’t necessarily men wiser.

    • etomczyk

      March 27, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      Frank. I thought of you, or should I say your definition of a certain person, when I discovered that one of the definitions of a fool is nincumpoop. You’re so right that we should be wiser as we get older. I had an endless list of “fools” in the culture and only a handful of them were young. Scary thought!

      • aFrankAngle

        March 28, 2013 at 6:18 am

        When people ask if I would like to be a certain age again, I generally reply, “And to be that stupid again? No Thanks.”

  10. talesfromthemotherland

    March 26, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    I’ve always said that education is wasted on youth… we so often don’t know what we really believe in, or what we want from life… and we waste opportunities; we blow chances; we don’t see what’s best for us. I made a lot of foolish decisions, that have impacted my life right through today… So I try, TRY, to remember that when it comes to my own children. It all got us to where we are now, but perhaps I could have avoided a few bumps. 😉 BTW: April 1st, favorite day!

  11. Elyse

    March 28, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Another wise post from you Eleanor. I especially like these quotes!

    • etomczyk

      March 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm

      Thanks Elyse. The best part of writing these posts is trying to find qoutes that are inspiring and not that well-known. Cheers!


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