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A fellow editor asked me to review “The Action Hero’s Handbook.”

It’s a form of type-casting, but that’s fine; we action-hero types bear that burden.

This book is brought to you by the same guys that wrote “Worst-Case Scenario,” which has chapters such as “How to Jump from Rooftop to Rooftop” and “How to Determine the Gender of Your Date.”

Now, there are some chapters in this book, such as “How to Evade a MiG,” that Stars and Stripes just doesn’t have the budget to test. Others, such as “How to Catch Someone in the Air When You Don’t Have a Parachute,” that, well, I’m not completely stupid.

How to Take a Hit with a Chair

With complete disregard for my personal safety, I went home, determined to verify some of the tips in this book, and asked my wife if she would try to break a wooden chair over me.

She paused, and then said, “I was going to ask why, but it doesn’t matter. Sure.”

Her zeal was a bit disconcerting, but we action heroes are ready for anything.

So we went outside with one of my kitchen chairs, which we moved into the cellar after we married, and which she was only too happy to break, like the rest of the furniture I brought into the union.

The book offers helpful hints like “tuck your body to protect vital organs,” and “drop to the ground before the chair comes at you.” These worked OK.

But she kept hitting me. With an agility that defies description, I employed the oldest action-hero tactic in the world. I ran.

How to Tell if Someone is Dead

I thought I’d do some of these tests on a co-worker. Not that I was convinced she was dead, but you know how it is with some people you work with -- you can never really be sure.

So I came up behind her and rubbed a piece of cloth in her eye, as it instructs. It was at this point that I realized that the book is lacking a crucial chapter -- “How to dodge an elbow to the testicles.” Regardless, the test worked, and it proved many of us wrong.

How to Escape from Handcuffs

As a younger man, I had a number of opportunities, which I’m not proud of, to escape from a pair of handcuffs. A lot of what you’ve heard is wrong, I can say that. And the idea that you can lay down in the back of a cruiser and kick out a window is completely wrong; it just hurts your feet a lot.

But anyway, it’s my job to try it out, so I went to Dunkin’ Donuts, and got a cop to slap the cuffs on me.

The book offers this tip: “Tighten or flex your wrist muscles as you are being cuffed. This may allow you more maneuverability later.”

I don’t know about your wrist muscles, but mine don’t really balloon up.

So much for that.

Then I tried the “work your hands in front of you,” routine, but apparently, I have short arms or a few more vertebrate than most.

Luckily, the policeman got an emergency call, and opened the cuffs.

So I went home after this adventure, defeated for the most part, and tried out a few of the moves talked about in the section of the book titled “How to Turn Sexual Tension into Mad, Passionate Sex.”

I engaged my wife in sexual innuendo and banter.

I was subtle yet suggestive.

I moved in for the kiss.

And she broke a chair over me.


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