I grew up in a pretty functional family in the rural Midwest. My parents loved me and provided for me. I have a nice home and family of my own, now. My wife and kids love me. Even my cat seems to tolerate me.
So why, at the age of 51, did I suddenly decide to make a habit of lying on a bed of nails? Well, it isn’t exactly about “Reason”. It just seemed like fun!
The Bed of Nails effect has been around for ages. Probably since there have been boards, nails and and some guy with an overactive imagination. It has been used for meditation, for healing, for entertainment and for bilking people out of their money. This ancient act still inspires awe and wonder in even our present day, post-modern world. In my performances, both kids and corporate executives squeal with a mixture of delight and horror as I seemingly impale myself on the 400 or so spikes jutting out of a piece of 3/4 inch plywood.
I can tell you about the physics of it: basically, the more nails you have, the more comfortable the bed will be. I can tell you that putting the nails closer together also helps ease the pain. I could tell you all of the reasons it is relatively safe. None of that matters. What matters is that your eyes see me lie down on the 4-inch spikes and your brain shouts, “Somebody stop that man!”
The first time I ever performed it, my volunteer chickened out. You see, the culmination of the effect is when I have a member of the audience stand on my chest while I lie on the nails. There I was, lying on the bed for the first time, trying to convince the pre-teen kid that it was perfectly fine for him to step on top of me. Truth is, I wasn’t exactly sure it really was fine, but there was an audience. And when there is an audience, sometimes Reason is the first casualty.
Out from the wings came my rescuer. A fellow performer decided that he needed to help me out and make one small step for mankind on my chest. He was 6’2″ and weighed 200 lbs. I was even more uncertain about THIS step, but in for a penny, in for 200 pounds.
And….it was….fine. 200 lbs turned out to be just fine. Reason somehow endured AND triumphed.
In the few years since that day, I’ve had a lot of people stand on me. Little kids are astonished when I can take their 40-50 lbs in stride. Executives at corporate events go slack-jawed when full-grown adults make the climb. It never fails to gain attention.
So far, the record (for me) is 300 lbs on my chest. I’m not looking to break that, but if the opportunity arises – and there is an audience – well, Reason be damned, I’m going for it!