According to Jim Croce, there are four things you shouldn’t do: tug on Superman’s cape, spit into the wind, take the mask off the Lone Ranger, and mess with Big Jim Walker. The first three are used as examples of how foolish it would be to do the fourth.

Jim Croce was a singer/songwriter and his advice is part of a song. A guy in the song, whose name is Willie McCoy, ignores the warnings and not only messes with Jim Walker, he messes him up. Which begs this question: based on the outcome, how valid were the three examples of things not to do?

A man named Dan Trudeau suggested that tugging on Superman’s cape is a bad idea because it could startle him, causing him to turn around quickly.

“If you’re still holding onto the cape,” Trudeau said, “and given the power generated by a turning Superman, there’s a good chance you will be flung forward at tremendous speeds. Best case, you fly into empty space, breaking some bones when you finally hit the ground. Worst case, he’s standing near a brick wall and you go splat.”

Okay. But I don’t think Superman would be startled by a puny tug on his cape. Most likely he would look back, smile, and say, “May I help you?”

Spitting into the wind hardly needs a precaution. Unless some object of disdain is within easy range, your spit will quickly hit the dirt, even if you fire horizontally.


The spit will crash into air molecules, which will slow it down. At the same time, gravity will pull it earthward. The outcome is that the spit will not continue on its initial path. As it is slowed by the air and pulled by gravity, it will travel in a downward arc. The higher the wind, the steeper the arc. Unless the wind is gale force, spitting into it will, at worst, soil the toe of your shoe.

What about pulling the mask off the Lone Ranger? Clayton Moore played the Lone Ranger on television in the 1950s. He also starred in three Lone Ranger movies. When his acting career ended, Clayton Moore became the Lone Ranger full time. Wearing a black mask, riding a white horse he called Silver, and toting a pair of six-guns, he appeared at fairs and festivals and charity events. He was immensely popular and in constant demand.

The man who owned the rights to the character brought legal action against Moore, forbidding him to wear the mask or call himself the Lone Ranger. What did Moore do? He donned a pair of wrap-around sunglasses and continued showing up at events. Even without an introduction, people knew who he was and were overjoyed to see him. Eventually, the legal action was dropped and Moore put the mask back on.

You can, therefore, take the mask off the Lone Ranger and suffer no dire consequences.

I like Jim Croce and his music. And I forgive him for his unwarranted warnings.

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