Pam and I were out for an after-dinner walk this evening, when I noticed a little red-headed toddler walking down a driveway and stepping out into the street. I didn’t see anyone else around, so I kept half an eye on him as we crossed the street ourselves.
As he was getting across the street, I heard a male voice call out a name; the little boy gasped and started moving faster.
As he hit the other side of the street, giggling as he picked up speed, I saw what I assumed to be the child’s father trucking through a yard. I called out to the man, asking if he needed help catching him. He didn’t slow down or respond, save for what I thought was a nod, so I took that as my cue. I kicked into a full run to get in front of the kid (how did those little legs get him so far down the sidewalk?). I growled a bit as I flew past him – the noise was partly to focus on my running, partly to try and get the boy’s attention and slow him down. I hit the sidewalk about 10 feet in front of him, spun around to face him, and said “Where are you going, little man?” He stopped, a shocked look on his face, giggled again, and turned around… just as Dad caught up to him and scooped him up. They started walking back, cooing at each other (no yelling at or scolding of the child, which was a fine daddy moment in and of itself). Through the blood rushing in my ears and air getting sucked into my lungs, I heard Dad say “Thank you”. I nodded and started back across the street…
And then I got kicked in the chest.
There was a quick but massive shot of pain square in the center of my chest, right around the xiphoid. I’ve felt this many times in the past, and have self-diagnosed it as stomach-related / heartburn symptoms. When they’re bad, they’ll make me wince and groan a bit. This one had me doubled over in the middle of the street, clutching my chest. The gasping for air was coincidental, since I’d just gotten done chasing a runaway monkey. Still, it didn’t help the scene.
I couldn’t pick my head up to look around – certainly not the best position to be in while standing in the middle of the street – but I knew that just in front of me was my wife, staring wide-eyed at me with a mix of shock and concern on her face. After a few stuttering gasps and moans, I started to straighten up, and there she was, just as I pictured. I got a hand on her arm and we walked to the side of the road, all the while insisting it was just my stupid stomach. We just ate dinner before the walk, after all, and there I was bouncing my stomach around and flooding my system with adrenaline. There were no other signs of problems – shooting pains, dizziness, sweating, nausea – nothing to indicate heart problems. Just this horrible aching lump in my guts. After a few deep breaths and a bit of walking (and repeating my mantra that I was fine), I started feeling better.
And then I realized I didn’t have my cell phone.
It must have bounced away from me while I was chasing down the red-headed monkey. I turned around to go look for it… and after thinking it might be lying in the middle of the street, I launched into a full-stride, arm swinging run to find it before it got run over. At least my stomach stayed where it belonged after that sprint, especially after bending over to pick up my phone from where it landed in the grass.
I never said I was smart.