Long-time readers of this column may recall a story I wrote a while back about Florida Man. It seems the Sunshine State attracts people who are, in technical terms, the biggest gooberheads on the planet. Or maybe something in the water down there kills brain cells, or something. Whatever, the people in Florida, especially the guys, are always pulling the most boneheaded stunts you ever heard of.
Someone began to notice this trend a few years ago, and set up a Twitter feed with the title “Florida Man.” It’s supposedly “real-life stories of the world’s worst superhero.” The tweets are actual headlines taken from actual news stories, and they usually begin with “Florida Man.” For example: “Florida Man Caught Trying to Smuggle Dead Alligator in Car,” “Florida Man Tries to Walk Out of Pet Store with Python Stuffed in Pants,” and “Florida Man Who Tried to ‘Run’ to Bermuda in Inflatable Bubble Rescued by Coast Guard, Again.”
That “again” should tell you all you need to know about Florida Man, but the timeliest recent headline, and my personal favorite, is “Florida Man Comes to Rescue GOP from Trump Despite Being the Least Qualified Person in the World.” Some might posit, of course, that, as inept as Florida Man is, he would probably make a better president than Trump. And I’m not going to argue. Still, I have a suspicion that, as low as the office of POTUS has sunk in recent years, it might yet be diminished if held by someone dumb enough to lock himself in his car trunk while searching for his keys, which is another Florida Man headline.
Way back before I ever knew about the superhero thing, I wrote about 18-year-old Austin Hatfield, of Wimauma, Florida, who managed to conduct himself in accordance with the highest traditions of the world’s least apt superhero. Austin’s headline read: Florida Man Tries to Kiss Cottonmouth Snake, Hospitalized After Bite. I never heard what happened to Austin, but I know his face swelled up like a watermelon, and he was in the hospital for a while. If he died, he will definitely be a top contender in the Darwin Awards.
Florida Man struck again recently while sitting in his pickup, waiting to interview for a janitorial job at a Panama City, Florida elementary school. Travis Anthony, 28, was evidently reloading a gun, and managed to perforate his own leg. This incident is interesting because Travis may have mistakenly considered himself proficient with firearms, since he was, at the time, a part-time guard at the Bay County Jail.
This case is also interesting because the story, written by some knucklehead at the Associated Press, called Travis’s gun a ‘derringer revolver.’ This is evidence of the total, all-encompassing ignorance of the news media concerning firearms. If you happen to be a writer for a major news outlet, and you have somehow learned to read and are working your way through this column, moving your lips and sweating profusely, you might want to write this down: There is no such thing as a derringer revolver. Derringers don’t revolve—for goodness sake.
Getting back to Travis, I would also like to point out that, since he was a law enforcement officer, and therefore exempt from laws banning guns on school grounds, he was not arrested. Yet this man, who was unable to safely reload a one- or two-barrel pistol by himself, was not only a jail guard, but was also being considered for a job at a school. And some would argue that the police are the only people who should be allowed to have guns. Splain that one, Lucy.
That, however, is not the most impressive of Florida Man’s recent escapades. No.
Michael Blevins, a 37-year-old resident of Volusia County, Florida, was cleaning a .22 caliber pistol when his dog started jumping around in the room. Michael stood up and held the pistol to his chest to keep it away from the dog, when suddenly his back gave out and he fell down. He heard a gunshot, but didn’t think much of it. Evidently Michael routinely hears gunshots in the room while he’s cleaning guns, or something.
But then, lo and behold, three days later, while he was changing his shirt, Michael discovered a hole through his arm. Yes. He had shot himself in the arm, and didn’t know it for three days.
Michael takes medicine for his back pain, which he thinks may have kept him from feeling the bullet pass all the way through his arm. Still, it looks like it would have bled a good bit, yet it took him three days to discover the wound. Michael may be tough, and he may have taken too much of his back medicine, but one thing I would never accuse him of is being observant.
Of course, if you only change your shirt every three days, I guess there’s a lot of things you might not know about your body. In his defense, the Fox News article didn’t SAY that Michael didn’t change his shirt for three days, only that he noticed the wound three days later when he changed his shirt. But I can read between the lines. That’s the kind of thing us outdoor humor writers learn to do at outdoor humor writer school.
We also learn the difference between derringers and revolvers, and the best methods for smuggling alligators under our hats . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who avoids kissing snakes, whenever possible. Write to him at [email protected].