The Second Guy

It’s not the guy with the crazy idea you have to watch out for, it’s the second guy.

Take drinking.  Alcohol as an intoxicant is about as old as agriculture.  Rumor has it that beer was the first alcoholic beverage, created by the fermentation of grain.  Fermentation is part a very scientific process also known as rotting.  The first beer was invented by accident, when someone left a hole in the roof of their grain storage.  The rain got in, rotted the grain, trickled through the rotted grain and formed a pool on the ground.  Someone decided to drink this beige grain-water runoff and became relaxed, if a bit dizzy.

Smoking came about in a similar fashion.  Someone took some leaves they found in Virginia, curled them up into a cylinder, set fire to one end, and started sucking the smoke through the other.  No one knows why he did this.  Perhaps there was a nearby brush fire that made the village relaxed after a hard day of whatever Native Virginian villagers did during the day, and one villager got really jittery the next morning, put two and two together, and started setting things on fire until he found something that soothed him.

Here’s the thing, though.  I don’t worry about these two guys.  Well, I worry about the arsonist, but that’s beside the point.  Both of these stories would end quickly if it weren’t for The Second Guy.  The Second Guy is a much scarier figure.  The enabler.  The one who lets the genie out of the bottle.

First Guy: Hey, there was this puddle of water over by the grain silo.  I saved you some.  Here, try this!

Second Guy: OK.

Another First Guy: Hey, I just wrapped these leaves in other leaves and set fire to them.  Inhale this!

Another Second Guy: OK.

See what I mean?  These ideas die unless society as a whole accepts them.  I have no problem with people having crazy ideas.  I have crazy ideas all  the time (look around if you think I’m kidding).  But the real problem, the real threat to humanity, is the Second Guy, the person who hears somebody else’s insane idea and goes, “OK, let’s do that.”

Don’t be that guy.  When someone hands you a carton of milk and asks, “Does this smell spoiled to you?”, just take their word for it.  When someone says, “You can see where the bone in Joe Theismann’s leg snaps in half, let me rewind it!”, don’t look.  When someone says to you, “I just thought of a great idea for a show: child beauty pageant contestants!” (or “Inarticulate people from the coast of New Jersey!” or “It’s a cop show, but with singing!”), let history remember you as the person who stood up and said, “Are you insane?”

It’s just an idea.  Try it.


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