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I was that kid. The one that stepped on an upturned rake to see if Tom (of Tom and Jerry) had bad luck or if physics affected people like it did cartoon characters.

I stared at the rake on the ground and contemplated possibilities. Like in all things I do, I went big and stomped. Yep, physics is a thing and it worked the same on me as it did on Tom. Well, the fulcrum action did. And seeing stars. I didn’t recover as quickly from my injury as he did.

The large goose egg on my forehead had my parents discouraging cartoon re-enactments, which was probably a good thing because I loved The Road Runner Show.

My child-like sense of invincibility, along with eight years of gymnastics and Saturday morning cartoons gave me an unrealistic view on safety. I was strong, limber, coordinated and had good reflexes. Ergo, I was a future self-proclaimed ninja.

But my poor decision-making skills usually landed me in unexpected predicaments with unexpected consequences.

Gravity and all other science-y things weren’t always my friend, but we were besties when I jumped off the garage roof and performed a perfect forward somersault.

Choosing to jump wasn’t a poor decision, but yelling, “Hey, Mom! Watch this!” should’ve been avoided. You’d think she’d have been impressed, but, nope.

But, now that I have kids of my own, I understand my mom a bit better.

She was jealous.

And with that thought, anything my kids could do, I could do.

“Hey, Mom! Watch this!” Olivia yelled, jumping from the bottom rung of the ladder onto the monkey bars. Her strong arms, limber torso, great eye-hand coordination and fast reflexes had her swinging successfully back-and-forth. “You wanna try?” she asked.

“Umm, duh.”

The stars didn’t align. And the angels didn’t have my back. But there was a perfect storm ...

I was tall enough to grasp the monkey bars while standing; I was wearing Birkenstocks; gravity thought it was hilarious that my 47-year-old arms, shoulders and hands hadn’t held the weight of my body in decades (not to mention my body would be in motion when coming into contact with the center rung of the monkey bars); and I’m a poor decision-maker.

I jumped ... big.

The exhilaration of success lasted less than a millisecond. My arms jerked, head snapped back, Birks caught on the uneven sand and gravity ripped the cold metal rung from my hands. I fell forward, bracing myself with my out-stretched arms. Yes, I know. Totally not a gymnast nor a ninja move.

I’m happy to say the sand softened the landing, and the two broken wrists I expected were diagnosed as severe sprains requiring splints instead of casts.

Nevertheless, my life was inconvenienced ... the weekend before Christmas.

“Thomas, I’m going shopping!” I yelled up the stairs.

“Okay. I’ll get my keys.”

“No need. I’m all good.”

“Look at your hands,” he said, “notice anything that might make it difficult to drive?”

“Fine, but you can’t come into the stores. You’re on my shopping list.”


Thomas dropped me at the front of the mall and was completely happy to sit in his car with a coffee, a book and a reclining seat.

I had quite a bit of shopping success and in the last store I found a pair of leggings for myself. Yes, I buy my own presents.

The only problem was figuring out what size I needed, and I wasn’t about to wait in long changing room lines.

“Excuse me,” I said to the lady closest to me. “Can you help me, please?”

“Of course,” she said.

Maybe I should have explained what I needed help with, but poor decision-making skills and spontaneity led to yet another perfect storm.

I reached behind me and bent down the top of my yoga pants. “What size are these?” I asked.

“Oh, my” she said.“Can you read it? Should I pull my pants down further?”

“Not necessary,” she rustled around in her purse and pulled out a pair of reading glasses. “Oh, the writing is very faint,” she said. “I’ll need more light. Move forward a bit and turn down the top just a tad more.”


My intention was “just a tad more,” but my thumbs hooked inside my pants just as I stepped forward and I caught the buckle of my Birkenstock on the end cap of a clothing shelf.

I was going down ... big.

I tucked my head and performed the perfect forward somersault without using my hands (thank you very much), not that I had much of a choice. As I rolled, my thumbs pulled my yoga pants down much further than “just a tad more.”

“Oh, heavens!” my new friend said.

“Well, that didn’t go quite as planned,” I said.

“I would think not,” she laughed.

“The good news is I can read my own tag now.”

All storms must come to an end. The sun will once again shine — or in my case, the moon.

Krista Vance is a former Champaign resident. While she now calls northern Colorado home, she spent five wonderful years in Champaign and misses great friends, corn and big-sky sunsets.