My Latest Dumb Idea

Few of us get to be what we wanted to be when we grow up. When I was 5 years old in 1977, I saw Star Wars. I wanted to be a spaceship driver. (My father still has my 5-year-old voice on tape saying so.) Then a few years later, I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark; and I wanted to be an archaeologist. Not because I had any interest in the ancient world or the people that lived in it, but because archaeologists used bullwhips to swing on things, and that was what I knew I was meant to do.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll turn 48 years old. There’s still time.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve re-watched all the Indiana Jones movies before they’re due to leave Netflix at the end of the year. I haven’t seen some of them in a long time. Raiders is still the best, followed closely by Last Crusade. Temple of Doom wasn’t bad; and it was better than Crystal Skull for sure. As far as that one…it wasn’t as terrible as I remember it; but it sure wasn’t great, either.

Throughout this re-watch, I began to wonder…how much does a bullwhip cost? Well, settle down, amigos, because this is one rabbit-hole I went down so you don’t have to. Here’s what I discovered about bullwhips.

Bullwhips come in lengths from 6 feet to as long as 16 feet or more. The shorter the whip the easier it is to crack; the longer the whip the tougher it is to handle. Nowadays, the best whips are made from kangaroo hide (whip-cracking is pretty big Down Under); but they still use cowhide, too. Many modern whips are made from paracord. My eyes glazed over while reading about plaits and the “belly” of the whip; I gather it’s important stuff but I didn’t really care. The more plaits a whip has, the more pliable and responsive it is. In other words, the better the quality; kind of like a thread count in sheets. 16 plaits is better than 12, is better than 10, etc.

The general consensus is you get what you pay for, and a decently-made beginner bullwhip will likely cost you around $150 USD for a 6′-8′ whip, $250 for anything over 10 feet. (One thing is certain, the cheap whip I use when I dress in my Catwoman costume won’t work. Enjoy that image.)

So, I got to thinking about the practicalities of buying a whip.

I’m 6’1″ tall and I have plenty of backyard space, so I would likely try my hand at an 8′-10′ whip. Anything smaller and I would probably whip myself (which is apparently something you better get used to doing, especially in the beginning); anything larger would require Herculean strength that, at my advanced age, I sadly no longer possess. As a general rule, I don’t believe in buying cheap shit; for example, when I needed a reciprocating saw a couple of years ago, I bought the good one. A worker is only as good as his tools, after all. (In my case, my tools are usually much better than my level of skill would require.) In other words, I’m looking at spending about $250.00 USD to start this new hobby of mine; i.e. the hobby of whipping stuff.

I began to look at whips, and research whip manufacturers. Based on my recently acquired expertise and on the opinions of anonymous (but no doubt wise) Internet whippers all around the world, I dismissed inferior (or what I considered inferior) whips outright and homed in on the good quality bullwhips; the ones that must be better because they cost more. If I was gonna do this, I was gonna do it right, damn it.

As my collection of unpainted miniatures proves, resisting impulse buys has never been a strength of mine. But I generally pause when I’m about to spend over 200 bucks on anything. I decided I’d sleep on it. I did, and by the next morning I had pretty much forgotten about my whip obsession completely.

At least until about a week later, when I was shopping on Amazon, and this blue paracord bullwhip popped up in my “suggestions for you based on your browsing activity” window. I thought nothing of it, believing I was alone. Until…

“What’s that?” I heard from behind me.

“Nothing,” I said. I suddenly felt like I got caught watching porn.

“Why are you looking at whips?”

I shrugged. I resisted the urge to turn around. The silence was deafening. It seems an answer was expected. I began to wish I had been caught watching porn instead.

I sighed, and it all came out of me. I confessed the whole thing. I blabbed about how my re-watch of the Indiana Jones movies led to my new bullwhip obsession, which led me to research buying a bullwhip, because I know could get really good with one and that would be cool, and I’ve always wanted to be an archaeologist and…”

“Oh, please.”

Two words. That’s all it took.

That was when I began to reconsider the whole bullwhip purchase; to think about a better way to spend $250.00.

I thought about the utility and practicality of becoming a bullwhip adept. What do you use a bullwhip for, really? I mean, Indiana Jones is quite skilled with his; but I suppose that there may be a bit of creative license there. Am I going to whip someone? No. It’s not exactly a weapon ideal for home defense. You can’t swing a bullwhip in the house (I certainly wouldn’t be allowed to, even if I could); and unless I’m attacked in my backyard by someone who is taking their sweet time approaching me, it’s not a good option there, either. Can you really swing on a whip? Probably. The initial swing would be fun, but getting your whip untangled from the ground is probably going to be more of a pain in the ass than the trip was worth in the first place.

Whips make a loud noise. That’s about it. I have to assume the novelty of making a loud noise will wear off quickly, probably the first time I injure myself. And self-injury is pretty much assured. Whips hurt; that’s why being flogged is generally considered an unpleasant experience.

So, knowing what I know about me, here’s what would have likely happened had I gone ahead with this:

I would have gleefully uncoiled my new whip and tried to crack it. I would do this until I cracked it successfully, or more likely until my arm got tired or I cut my own flesh. Then I would either get bored or get upset, depending on whether I cracked it or cut myself. I would put the whip down and not pick it up again. Occasionally, I would glare at it, remembering that I spent two hundred fifty dollars on it.

That would be a really fucking stupid thing to do, so I’m not doing it.

8 thoughts on “My Latest Dumb Idea

  1. Dave Stone

    What an insight to your psyche Keith ! LOL Can understand the want to fulfil a childhood dream, but then having the adult realisation of what would I really do with the thing once you got it.
    Had a customer buy one when I worked in GW, and he let me have a go on it ( out the back in the car park for safety of course !) and managed to get a crack out of it, but as for doing anything else, was proving tricky, couldn’t get it to latch on a post at all ! When I next saw the customer I asked how his practice was going, to which he replied I sold it and showed the great mark on his face where the whip had caught him !
    I think you’ve gone down the right path of looking into it and then realising maybe not, now a deluxe lightsabre with all the noises ! LOL

    1. The Angry Piper Post author

      For Christmas a few years back, my brother bought me Luke’s lightsaber from A New Hope. It lights up and makes all the sounds: the on/off, waving around and contact noises. It’s pretty cool, and it was fun to wave it around on my front lawn on Christmas night (I imagine passing cars must have recognized it for what it was). Sadly, it just kind of sits there in my basement. Every once in a while I’ll take it down and check the batteries; or just light it up to hear the sound. It doesn’t actually cut anything; which is probably good. I’m worried about injuring myself with a bullwhip, but bullwhips don’t remove limbs.

  2. Dick Garrison

    Ha ha! what a great little story, and I could appreciate your sentiment entirely, we have all bought stupid stuff in the past that we thought would be cool, a motorbike and an Toyota MR2 (moneypit) being two of my worst, these days I tend to talk myself out of most of them, it’s no good asking my wife as she tends to let me do what ever I want (this isn’t always as good as it sounds).

    I’d love a Dalek and a suit of Stormtrooper armour, but in practical terms what the hell as I going to do with them! Get in/put it on and walk around the house for five minutes!! I would never go anywhere in them, I don’t have the confidence of the brother in-law, and don’t like people looking at me.

    So yes a bullwhip would be cool, but $250 cool? (Oh and I seem to recall seeing one at said brother in-laws, so that would put me off straight away tbh!)

    Cheers Roger.

    1. The Angry Piper Post author

      Although the thought of owning stormtrooper armor is pretty cool, actually getting into it would be another thing entirely. Then I’d be the 48 year-old guy in stormtrooper armor, and no one wants to be that (not really). Better to have it standing in the corner, like a proper suit of armor.
      You know, looking back over my post, I may have given the mistaken impression that pissing away $250 on a frivolous thing like a bullwhip is something I do all the time. It is not. I rarely buy anything that expensive for myself purely for fun; further evidence that I was in the grip of madness to even consider it.

  3. Jeremy Winstanley

    What a brilliant post, Keith. Entertaining and amusing. I am assuming the disdainful comment which killed this idea (which was probably for the best) was from your partner? They do have a tendency to bring you back to Earth with a bump. Luckily, as most of my hobby-related stuff does not come with a high price tag, it stays off my wife’s radar, so I don’t get any stick – unless I am using time up which she believes could be used elsewhere.

    1. The Angry Piper Post author

      It’s not so much the high price tag (she didn’t even see that, thank God). It’s the absurdity of me cracking a bullwhip in the backyard that elicited the “Oh, please.” And yes…were we all in the same place together, Jeremy, I would introduce her to you as “she who is my wife”, just as Sarek would. She’d love that.

  4. Kieron

    This is probably my favourite bit of reading of 2020. It perfectly sums up my own fads and obsessions which pop out of some tiny bit of inspiration, gather pace and steam and then ultimately flounder on the rocks of reality.

    Made me smile.

    1. The Angry Piper Post author

      Thanks, Kieron. Glad you enjoyed my brief moment of fantasy and the ensuing cruel reality check. My eyesight is bad enough without me losing an eye to a bullwhip mishap, and that’s exactly what would happen.

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