April 2024
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By Kevin Wells (ACS)

When you teach undergraduate students, you just have to be ready for just about anything. One of the annual events that generates that anything is spring break.

Although semi-nude spring break participants in warm climes like Mexico make the evening news on a regular basis, travel to other countries is not necessary for a truly memorable experience.

When standing before the first class after spring break, I always ask each class about startling and momentous events that may have occurred. The usual assortment may include marriage proposals, catastrophic automobile break-downs, being locked out of the hotel room by irate fellow students, losing wallets, credit cards, automobiles, and other personal property. There is also the old favorite of going the budget route and hitch hiking to someplace spectacular and having to accept a ride back with a driver with a borderline personality disorder.

Then there was Stanley. In Stanley’s class, we had a fairly interesting assortment of adventures but no marriage proposals, incarcerations, catastrophic automobile failures or anything of that magnitude. Then  I asked if anyone could beat the last adventure recounted, which was finding $200 in the hotel room (which she surrendered to the motel manager).

Stanley’s answer took the top prize; “I had a spear stuck in my leg.” All of us just had to hear that one, particularly because he claimed to have pictures, in his car just 100 yards away in the parking lot.

The spear was actually a flounder gig. One of the ways to fish in the coastal zone of South Carolina was with a three to five prong spear used to take flounder in the shallow coastal marshes. Stanley and this other fool were drinking beer (most of the stories started like that) and were strolling around the yard of the rental house where they were staying. They would take a couple of swallows of beer, pick a target, and take turns trying to hit the target at a distance of 5 to 10 feet with the flounder gig. The target could be a beer can, of which there were quite a few, a leaf, a paper cup, and so on.

So they were just walking around, and taking turns trying to make the challenge targets pointed out by the other one. Then the telephone rings, and it is Stanley’s girlfriend. Talk ensues, and Stanley, not apparently being able to talk and walk at the same time, finishes the conversation and finally hangs up. He calls for his friend so that they can resume the game, and his friend, overconfident with his recent success, throws the flounder gig aiming for a point just a foot from Stanley’s right foot. He had not missed in the last 10 attempts so Stanley should be in no danger, right?

Wrong! At the end of its trajectory the gig was about 45 degrees from horizontal and stuck in Stanley’s right calf. Stanley fell down. Stanley cried out in pain. Stanley started to say things using words the Sisters back at the Catholic High School would not tolerate.

This, of course, emptied every one of the rental houses for about 50 yards in all directions. Through trial and error, they discovered that the barbs would not allow removing the spear without considerable pain. One of the more sober bystanders suggested a call to 911 and a trip to the ER. Unfortunately, about the time, there was a multi-car accident on the main road and all ambulances and many of the rescue crews and their equipment were busy on that call and a house fire in the same general area. Because death was not immanent, Stanley would have to wait.

Stanley did not want to wait, because the beer was wearing off, so someone suggested that they just drive him to the ER. That was a nice idea, but Stanley had a spear sticking out of his right leg. They tried everything available. They put Stanley in first then the squirmed him around to clear the spear, then tried the spear first, then Stanley squirming around, they even tried loading Stanley into a station wagon with him sitting on the tailgate holding the spear, and nothing worked. By this time, 45 minutes had passed.

So they decided to cut off the spear shaft and just transport Stanley and the spearhead to the ER. This, of course requires a saw, which was duly found and an attempt was made. At this point, they are 75 minutes into this adventure.

Unfortunately the first attempt at cutting the shaft moved the spearhead in Stanley’s leg and Stanley gave yet another demonstration of creative swearing. No combination of people holding the spear shaft and saw could make any progress because every stroke of the saw or twitch of the hand created pain.

Then the beer hits his renal system and wants its freedom. The female spectators, of which there are many, make a trip into the house essential but Stanley with spear will not fit through the door of the 1950s era beach house. This is a big problem because none of the men there wants to be seen in public helping Stanley with his hoohah. Stanley will not let go of the spear shaft because only he knows the precise position that generates no pain or bleeding, and therefore cannot help himself. They solved the problem by letting his bladder do its thing and then hosing him off.

Finally, one of the rescue crews arrives with a hydraulic shear normally used for cutting people out of cars and they remove the spear shaft, load Stanley and the spearhead into an ambulance and head to the ER leading an entourage of 5 cars with the spectators. After all, who could possibly want to miss what would happen next?

The hospital security and the police were summoned when Stanley and an entourage of 25 gawkers arrived. Two of the sober ones were selected to stay, three were detained for misbehavior, and the remaining 20 dispersed to the parking lot where they loitered waiting for sober drivers to conduct them home. All, of course swore that they did not drive but had been dropped off by friends who would, (honest officer!), be right back to pick them up.

Stanley passed the pictures around. The total bill for rescue (cutting off the shaft) an ambulance ride, treatment at the ER, one night in the hospital and the antibiotics came to $1,800.

I blew a 75 minute class session listening to the adventure and really could not help myself, and on balance, I think it was worth it. The course was economics, and they needed some cheering up anyway.

I am NOT making this up, that is the story and I am sticking to it.


  • Laurie Methven

    Great story and you told it well – would’ve love to have seen the photos 🙂

  • Kevin L. Wells


    The best part about the photographs was the fact that everybody’s eyes seemed to point in different directions. Everybody involved was blotto or past that stage.

    This just illustrates the close connection between beer and bad decisions!


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