Saturday, September 3, 2011

Pratfalls, Planking and Pain: An Afternoon with the Minors

Last week I asked my readers to give me topics (click here or here) to write about. I received several submissions, but my first response was in my comment section within a few minutes of posting the blog. Kalen Soger asked for my opinion on planking. Actually, she called it the incredibly stupid trend called 'planking'.

According to Wikipedia, 'Planking' or the 'lying down game' is an activity consisting of lying face down in an unusual or incongruous location. The hands must touch the sides of the body and having a photograph of the participant taken and posted on the internet is an integral part of the game. Players compete to find the most unusual and original location in which to play. The term planking refers to mimicking a wooden plank. Rigidity of the body must be maintained to constitute good planking.

Here is a video of planking pictures to give you a better idea.

As you can see, the concept of this fad is very simple. Lay stiff as a board in an unusual place and take a picture to post on the Internet. Despite the simplicity of the idea, I felt that I should go out and experience this new phenomenon before trying to tackle the topic. On Tuesday afternoon, Christian (my son) and I picked Kirsten (my daughter) up from school to go planking. Kirsten's friend, Taylor, called her mother to come along with us. The four of us then headed out onto the town to locate interesting places to get our pictures.

As we were driving around, we began talking about why people started planking to begin with. It is so pointless. A person lays down on something and then someone takes a picture of it. Why? I had to ask them why we do anything. Why did every kid in the world have to own tons of Silly Bands? Why did hula hoops ever become popular? Millions of people all over the country bought a large plastic ring so they could swivel it around on their hips? REALLY? The same goes for tossing a plastic disc around. If you think about it, the only reason frisbees still exist today was because of the frisbee fad they created years ago. Let's be honest, unless you have a frisbee-catching dog, they get boring real fast.

Does this look like fun?
People from older generations who say planking is stupid may have participated in their own fads during their youth. In the 1950's, youth flocked to the local town square to see how many people they could cram into a phone booth. Why did they do this? I don't know, but I do want to ask this question. Why not? It was just something to do. It was harmless and young people tend to come up with crazy ideas. In the 20's, flag-pole sitting became popular. Then, dance marathons became the activity of the 30's, and in the 40's goldfish swallowing became the new fad of the youth. During the disco years of the 1970's, when everyone's wardrobe drastically changed, streaking became a common occurrence. The 50's saw the birth of panty raids, which were born out of protests against curfew rules at co-ed colleges. Just a few years ago people started extreme ironing, which is simply ironing your clothes in the most incredible places you can manage.

I don't like to iron in my play time.

Regardless of someone's opinion of planking or any of these other activities, they are just something goofy to do. Is it stupid? Maybe, but it is not pointless. I spent an afternoon having fun with my kids and did not spend a penny other than the gas involved driving around. It's a harmless activity. Actually, I can't really say that, but I will explain that in a moment.

The rail hurt my chest
Once again, in the chest

Captain D's drive thru
The most challenging part of planking is finding the proper location for your picture. The actual act of planking is fairly simple. Sometimes it was difficult to get into position properly, but it didn't take long. If you look at the pictures, you can see that many of the times when I took the position, my legs and chest were hanging off the end of the platform I was resting on. Keeping my chest and head up were not that difficult, despite the fact that at my age, I could feel all the blood rushing to my face. The harder part was holding my legs up long enough to get the picture taken and I always tried to hold my stance until we had taken three pictures to make sure we had a good one.

Over water at Mitchell Museum
After getting several pictures at various places around town, we went to the Mitchell Museum to walk the grounds behind the building. We thought the museum would have many great picture opportunities we could try to plank on. In this picture, I used an old diving board platform that went over the water. It was one of the few things we found back there. There were plenty of things to look at, but not much built for laying on. We were determined to find something for a great picture. After walking around and being disappointed at the lack of planking opportunities, we came across a park bench. After some of the pictures we had already taken, I figured laying on a park bench would be rather uneventful, but I had an idea. If it worked that way it looked in my head, it would be a great picture.

Taylor on a children's swing
The back of the bench only came up to about halfway between my knee and my waist. So I was going to rest the front of my thighs across the back of the bench and then fall forward in position. If Christian could snap the picture at the right moment, it would look like I was balancing on that bench in an impossible way. However, as I got into position to try this and was telling Christian where I wanted him to stand and what I wanted him to do, the bench shifted. I realized that it was just sitting on the ground and was not secured. I quickly reconsidered my idea. I approached Christian to further explain what I had in mind and we were discussing where we may be able to pull off this shot. However, I had not really explained to everyone why I had walked away from that bench.

The results of non-professional planking
While I was talking to Christian, Taylor approached the bench, not knowing why I had decided not to try it. She put her waist across the back of the bench to do what she had done successfully several times already at other locations. As soon as her feet came off the ground, the bench tipped backward, causing her to fall forward. The quick motion prevented her from being able to catch herself and as her face quickly met with the wood of the bench, her legs were going over her head. She flipped over the bench and landed in a heap on the lawn. At this point I turned around to see what my kids were gawking at. Taylor was fine, but her face did not look like it. Once we got her cleaned up, I reluctantly drove her home to explain to her parents how I had broken their daughter's face.

Despite the blood, we did have a good time that afternoon and I now have a valid opinion about planking. I say that my opinion is now valid because I have participated. Is planking stupid? Yes, it is. However, one of my favorite movies is Airplane and it is pretty stupid as well. There is nothing wrong about planking. It can be fun, it is cheap, and despite our little mishap, it is (usually) safe.

To the people who look at pictures of planking on the Internet and decide it is stupid and pointless, I understand. However, you need to understand this. Planking is not really for the people who are looking at the pictures. It is for the participants. We had a blast. It was so much fun. What is the difference between spending an afternoon playing catch, talking a walk through the park, or going planking? It was fun. Who cares that it is just a passing fad? If you have ever bought a pet rock, expected to be entertained by a Slinky, owned an insanely overpriced Cabbage Patch Doll, collected Beanie Babies or worn a Swatch, then you really can't say anything against planking.


  1. Excellent! I'm glad you all had fun with it. (and that Taylor didn't ACTUALLY break her face, haha) You're definitely right, sometimes it's the stupid, silly things that can be the most enjoyable. And it's not REALLY pointless since you're having fun. I probably won't be doing much planking myself but if others can get enjoyment out of it, go for it. :)

  2. It was fun and I thank you for the suggestion. We really enjoyed it. Maybe you could be the photographer on a planking excursion.

  3. Totally, that would be fun!

  4. Try coning. Look it up on youtube.

  5. Coning is extremely stupid.
    -Jessica Ames

  6. Thanks for letting us know what planking is. By the way, you have some serious balance.

  7. Thank you, Brandi. My abs were a little sore the next day, but it was fun.

  8. I think it looks like fun, but I'm fairly accustomed to posing in ridiculous ways for pictures when out and about.
    Did you at least say "sorry about your face"? I love having the opportunity to say that to people. ;)

    1. The pictures were fun. I have apologized many times to her mother for "breaking her daughter's face." I love using that phrase.


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