This story was originally posted on October 26, 2016. I think every parent is just trying to figure things out as they go along. A scary outbreak of tripping wouldn’t make things any easier.
Brothers and Sisters, I’ve been asked to introduce myself, but I can’t. So moving along…
Growing up, John wanted to be a pirate. Or a superhero. Or a ninja. He hadn’t really planned on being an accountant. There just weren’t any promising superhero majors in college, and accounting was near the top of the list of majors when he was looking for an alternative.
Being an accountant wasn’t completely terrible. He didn’t save the world, but he did help people. And sometimes he saved them from bad guys. Still, there were days after filling out too many tax forms when he wished for a cape or a parrot on his shoulder. Or both. Both would be nice.
So, when he was shopping for some new exercise clothes, he was drawn to a lightweight black outfit in the corner. It looked like something ninja would wear. The only thing better would be if it came with throwing stars. Or a parrot.
John hurried home to show his wife Sandra. “Look, it’s a ninja uniform. I always wanted to be a ninja.”
Sandra looked up from her book. “It’s quite dark, and it doesn’t have a reflective stripe.”
“Ninjas don’t need reflective stripes,” John said.
“You’ll need to be careful crossing streets and don’t run at night.”
Sandra sighed. “Well, have fun then.”
The ninja jogging suit was more effective than he’d imagined. He didn’t have to try hard at all to blend in with his surroundings.
Even running during the day, no one could see him. It was like he’d somehow become invisible. Cars nearly hit him and splashed him with water from puddles on the road, people bumped into him and knocked him over, and someone even dumped their lawn clippings onto him.
At first, John was thrilled. He was a real ninja. It was like suddenly discovering he had a superpower after all. What could he do with his newfound invisibility? John tried to think of something.
He didn’t want to steal anything. He wasn’t an assassin. He wasn’t a spy, either. Or a soldier. Or a magician.
Really, all it was good for was getting him into trouble. Sandra was unhappy with all of the bruises and grass clippings he came home with. “But I never get chased by big dogs,” John pointed out. Sandra wasn’t impressed.
After a few too many terrible runs, John gave up and decided to buy a new jogging suit. He picked up a suit that was neon blue with a reflective stripe. When he changed into it for a run, Sandra set down her book with a smile.
“That looks much better,” she said.
“I miss being a ninja already. I can’t blend in wearing this.”
Sandra laughed. “It’s safer. Isn’t there some superhero in a blue suit?”
“Not like this one,” John said.
“Then you get to make one up, super powers and all,” Sandra said, and she picked up her book again.
John thought about it. He liked that idea. So, the next time he went running, he imagined making it rain and turning things to ice. It made the run much more entertaining. It was also nice that the cars and people gave him plenty of space and no one dumped lawn clippings on him.
“Being the Weather Maestro is much better than being a ninja,” he told Sandra.
“I’m just happy you’re safe,” she said with a smile and handed him an apple.
John took the apple and smiled back. “Now all I need is a parrot.”
Awesome Guy came home from saving the world, happy to see that his wife, Dynamic Girl had already picked up their son Stan from daycare. Dynamic Girl didn’t look as happy. “Is everything okay, dear?” he asked.
She smiled a fake smile. “Stan honey, why don’t you go draw something for Mommy, alright?” she said, and sent Stan out of the room. Once he was gone, she dropped the smile. “I’m worried about Stan.”
“Did something happen?” Awesome Guy asked.
“He’s not showing any superpowers. I think he might be normal,” she said.
“There’s nothing wrong with normal.”
Dynamic Girl flopped into a chair with less grace than usual. “I know,” she said. “But that’s not all. He’s so clumsy. He keeps tripping over his feet lately. I had his vision checked and his eyes are fine.”
Awesome Guy sat on the arm of her chair and put an arm around her shoulders. “Did you take him to the doctor?”
“Yes. He’s, well, normal.” Dynamic Girl frowned.
Awesome guy patted her back and stood up again. “I’m sure it’s fine. A growth spurt, maybe?”
Just then, there was a loud thump in the next room. Dynamic Girl sighed. “There, he just tripped again.” She raised her voice. “Stan dear, are you alright? Come in and let me check on you.”
Stan came running in with his drawing and handed it to his mother with a grin. “I’m okay,” he said, and ran back out, darting around the coffee table with ease.
Dynamic Girl held up the drawing. “Look, he’s written ‘me’ at the bottom. It’s another self-portrait. Do you think he’s becoming a narcissist?” She gasped. “Maybe he’s really a supervillain?”
Awesome Guy laughed. “No son of mine is going to be a supervillain. I think you worry too much. Now let’s see what’s–“ He tripped.
“Honey?” His wife asked with a shaky voice.
He chuckled nervously. “I wasn’t expecting that.” He sat up and saw his son peeking around the door. “Come here, son. Did the noise scare you? I just somehow tripped over my own two feet. But look, I’m okay.”
Stan shuffled into the room and held out another picture. Awesome Guy smiled. “Oh, is this me? That’s great.” He stood and handed the picture to Dynamic Girl. “Look, honey, Stan just drew a picture of me.” She smiled and everything was right in the world. For a while.
A week later and Awesome Guy came home from saving the world, happy to see that his wife, Dynamic Girl had already picked up their son Stan from daycare. Unfortunately, once again, Dynamic Girl didn’t look as happy. “Is everything okay, dear?” he asked. He hoped that this wasn’t going to become a new routine.
She smiled and sent Stan from the room again. She frowned. “Stan seems to be alright, but now the kids and teachers in the daycare keep tripping. Do you think it’s something contagious? Perhaps it’s a symptom of some kind of weaponized virus?”
Awesome Guy sighed and sat in the nearest chair. “Honey, if it is, it doesn’t seem to last long. And there aren’t any other symptoms, right?”
She nodded and her shoulders slumped a little. “That’s right. Maybe I do worry too much.” She walked towards her usual chair and tripped.
“Honey, are you okay?” Awesome Guy asked. He hurried over and helped her up.
“Yes,” she said and brushed herself off, looking a little embarrassed. She glanced away and then smiled. Stan was peeking around the door. “Oh, Stan, is that you? Did you finish your picture?” She held out a hand and Stan shuffled over and handed her the picture. “Is this me? Thank you, sweetie!” She gave him a big hug.
“Ouch! Mom, that hurts!” Stan scowled. Awesome Guy laughed and everything was right in the world. For a while.
A week later and Awesome Guy was on the superhero council organized to try to discover the source of the mysterious wave of tripping incidents. Celebrities from around the world were tripping, and there was no known connection or trigger for the incidents. There was a lot of arguing and posturing on the council, but nothing was resolved.
Awesome Guy went home, having not saved the world. The house was empty, so he left again and picked up Stan from daycare. One of the teachers handed Awesome Guy a stack of drawings. He flipped through them. “These are all people from the tripping case.” He looked at his son and felt proud. “Have you been keeping up with my work, son?” His son might not be a superhero, but maybe he would be a reporter instead. He couldn’t wait to tell Dynamic Girl! And everything was right in the world again. For a while.