Ouch! Father’s Day 2008 was radically different than this young buckaroo had imagined it would be. As a filmmaker I am certainly no stranger to the bizarre surrounding me at moments when I’d prefer the bizarre to stay locked up in a tightly sealed, vacuum sucked container in the bottom-most trench of whatever body of water I happen to be around at the given time. But this was a real doozy.
Running on a treadmill is considered safe by most, unless they happen to be 15 feet tall and have legs that straddle the length of a gym in stride. I am no such giant and have been a runner my entire life. It’s in the gene pool. Grandpappy on my mother’s side was a champion. On father’s day 2008, I also became an acrobat.
While rocking out to some Chile Pepper concert-level decibel mania and running at 8 MPH, a lady was finishing her workout and thought it a particularly good idea to roll one of those large bouncy exercise balls along the floor.
Catching where this is going?
Everything was great for about 20 seconds. Then the ball was thrust into the looping track of the treadmill. The velocity was too great for the exercise ball, which clearly hadn’t been pumped up since Hercules did all his great deeds, and it was completely sucked under the treadmill, launching it AND ME 5 feet forward! The treadmill crashed into the mirror, the only thing that could stop the charging steed. I flopped and contorted through the air in ways that seemed impossible since my bones fused together all those many years ago in childhood. Plastic Man was always one of my favorite cartoons and I dedicated this dance to him.
I crashed down within inches of a paralyzing blow, lost conscience, and woke up sitting on the edge of the treadmill, which would have been me sitting up on a stretching mat had it been moments earlier. I had time-traveled a minute into the future and apparently relocated for good measure.
After a frightening hospital visit, which included the color white in a shade that doesn’t truly exist, I was cleared to go home on all sorts of meds that I suggest you get a hold of immediately, take advantage of, and live quite vividly for the rest of your life.
I had been a stay-at-home daddy to my little angel of a son we call Jaden for the previous 3 months. He was then 6-months old and finally got his first paying gig as a ventriloquist, a profession we’d always encouraged him to go into. With my condition less than desirable to care for someone whose only true skill at that point was crapping in increasingly large amounts, olfactory delights, and indescribable color arrangements, we were forced to hire a full-time nanny. My wife insisted she not be exceedingly blond, tan, or thin. She wasn’t even allowed to one of those things in excess.
We found the most charming, lovely person we could find and I was left to my own devices to recover – VERY slowly – while this stranger took care of Jaden and started managing his career. He has now made his rounds on the circuit and has been asked by Jack Benny to open for him in a 1920’s vaudeville road show. I never could have got him past the 1880’s. Our nanny rocks!
Since I was laid up, drugged up, and in an almost constant daze, I had considerable time to let my mind wander. Unfortunately I could rarely retain much of what came to me, though I still have a faint sense of a green flash of light and a woman screaming, followed by an evil laugh. I now wear glasses that seem to have been mended by some charm or something.
Soon, I was able to hold onto my thoughts again, and an idea popped into my head! I decided to write down a story that was an idea that had popped into my head 3 years earlier. I had been so busy with writing and directing films and traveling to film festivals those previous years that I hadn’t been able to really get into it.
The beginning had begun.