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(Probably) The Dumbest Thing I've Ever Done
Dana Williams
I was living in Walsh Hall my freshman year of college at the University of North Dakota. I had a brand new roommate who turned out to be a complete asshole after the end of the semester. It was winter, and just off winter break.

Grant (the asshole roommate), Mark (a neighbor across the hall), and myself were walking to Wilkerson Hall on a Sunday evening to eat dinner. It was dark out, it was cold out, and we were cracking jokes about something. Something that must've been pretty damn funny, because I was about to do something really dumb. Of course, what we were talking about would pale in comparison, but it must've been funny.

Anyways, we were walking over the bridge that crosses the “English Coulee”, which was more of a miserable creek usually. And it stinks, too. Someone was joking about licking the metal handrails on the bridge. It must've been pretty funny. But, it got funnier. Sort of.

I bent over the handrail as the other two continued sauntering over the bridge. I grabbed the rail with both hands-- I had large “chopper” mittens on. I could see my breath as I plastered my tongue to the metal pipe. It was cold. And all the moisture on my tongue instantly attached itself as ice to the metal. It was so immediate that I had no idea what to do. I knew what had happened, but it was only till I tried pulling away that fear set-in.

For some bizarre reason it had never really clicked with me about how wet a mouth is and how quickly frozen metal could make friends with a wet tongue. I had touched metal with bare hands before and nothing had stuck, and I had touched it with moisture before and nothing happened. But, this time I sort of forgot how cold it was and just how much of my tongue I had offered up to the bridge.

Holy shit, I thought. I've licked a metal pole in under zero degree (Fahrenheit!) weather. Wow, this is going to be embaressing. The other two had stopped and turned around and were laughing at my joking. I stayed put and did not laugh around. They stood there chuckling and then bored of my game and told me to “come on”. I stayed put. I mumbled-- I lacked use of my tongue of course-- “I can't” or something like that.

They were starting to walk towards me and saw that I really had done it. I can't recall all the conversation, but there was probably a bit of teasing, chiding, lambasting, consoling, and panic mixed in for the next few seconds amongst us three. I threw off my mittens, and felt the cold pole. I grabbed my tongue with my fingers, and pulled. No luck. Somehow in my fear, I had also allowed my lower lip to touch the pole. Bad news. Now I had both my tongue and lip attached. Now, I was really panicking. I tuck my fingernails into the fray and tried to scrape between my tongue and the metal. No luck.

I saw my roommate take his hands and hold them under my mouth. It only took a moment to figure out why: blood was pouring out of my mouth in pools on the snow. His fancy white gloves were getting stained with my blood. I don't know what the other two were saying when I pulled my pocket knife out, but as soon as Grant saw it he grabbed it away from me, and said “no way!”. Regardless of the asshole he would later turn out to be, he kindly blocked the wind and took his other hand to hold in the heat of my breath.

A combination of my breath warming up the ice particles adhering me and the dedicated digging (yes, digging) out of my fingers, helped pry my free.

I had blood running down my chin, a ripped open lower lip, a mouth full of salty blood, and part of my tongue on the bridge. I could feel how cold my tongue was once I put it back in my mouth. It felt really, really long. And sore. I washed up in the bathroom and followed the other two up to the dining hall. I didn't get anything to eat. I was hungry before, but my brush with a heart attack and infamy drove all the interest in food away. The other two were in amazement the whole meal, and offered me ice cream at the end, probably half out of jest and half out of the fact that eating it wouldn't require chewing or my tongue.

For weeks afterward I would walk by seeing little traces of red flesh on the bridge's handrail. It got smaller overtime and eventually was completely gone. It was sick. I can joke about it now, and although it shows a very clear lapse in my common sense, it's sure to get a laugh during conversations.

And yes, it was probably the dumbest thing I've ever done.

01/07/03