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By Staff | Mar 13, 2015

I have been pursued my entire life by an intractable, insidious, invisible force. It is constantly harassing me and somehow knows where I am at every moment.

It has inflicted untold amounts of pain and embarrassment.

Many of you are familiar with my malevolent enemy – gravity.

I first became aware of gravity’s hostility for me when I was but a toddler. One morning I awoke to discover that I had been unjustly incarcerated in a jail-like structure, a device known as a crib. My first instinct, naturally, was to escape.

With great skill and no small amount of effort, I was able to scale the crib’s ramparts. Upon attaining the summit, I leaped to freedom.

I soared through the air, floating like thistle down upon a benevolent updraft. But then my brutal foe espied me. Gravity grabbed the Earth and thrust it violently upward, smashing the entire planet against my tender little body. Talk about overkill.

As I lay crumpled and whimpering on the floor – my injuries were nothing that a few kisses and some rockabyes couldn’t cure – I grimly vowed that gravity would henceforth be my mortal enemy.

Gravity has done everything it can to make life miserable. It has been a ceaseless and unwelcome companion, always lurking, ever eager to cause calamity.

For example, when I was a grade schooler, I decided to climb a tree. The most obvious strategy would be for gravity to rip me from my oaken perch and hurl me to the ground, but its designs were much more sinister than that.

It was wintertime and a fair amount of snow clung to the boughs of the tree. I quickly ascertained that there was enough of the white stuff to make several rock-hard snowballs.

A couple of my younger siblings were playing nearby and their wanderings eventually brought them to the base of the tree. At just the wrong moment, gravity caused the snowballs to slip from my grip and plummet onto the heads of the unsuspecting kids.

Howls rang out from down below and the incident was swiftly reported to parental authorities. A severe reprimand was issued to me by our parents.

They wouldn’t even listen to my explanation of why gravity was the true villain.

Even though I am now a dignified middle-aged adult, gravity continues its relentless campaign to discomfit me at every turn.

Gravity will turn something as simple as a tiny patch of ice into a farce that involves extreme bodily contortions and the formula for terminal velocity.

In short, gravity will stop at nothing to fill my days with woe. It has even tried to stymie my love life.

When I was a teenager, our local roller rink was the place to see and be seen. Young persons of both genders skated in circles around the rink, their rollers creating a low rumble of hormone-laden thunder on the hardwood floor.

After endless hours of practice, I mastered the art of roller skating without falling. I was driven by the fact that roller skating afforded my best opportunity to scout out members of the opposite sex.

Every so often, the rink’s electric sign would change from “all skate” to “couples only.” The lights would be dimmed and a romantic tune would play on the crackly PA system. Here was my chance to skate with an actual girl instead of whipping past them in a showoff-ish blur.

I asked a random girl if she would like to skate and was deeply shocked when she said, “yes.”

We rolled out and joined the circularly skating crowd. We were soon passed by a couple who were skating face-to-face, that is, with the guy skating backwards.

“Let’s do that,” said my skating partner.

Even though I had never skated backwards, I assumed there would be nothing to it. After all, it’s exactly like skating forwards except in the opposite direction.

But my cunning enemy had other plans.

As soon as I turned to skate backwards, gravity took advantage of my innate awkwardness and hurled me to the floor. This caused the girl I was skating with to also take a tumble.

Several other skaters couldn’t stop in time and tripped over us. The grimy hardwood floor became a grim pile of sweaty teenage arms and legs.

I assumed this ruined any chances I might have had with the girl, but asked her anyway if she would like to continue skating with me.

“You kidding?” she asked, rubbing her skinned elbow. “Did you fall on your head when you were a baby?”

Wow. How did she know?

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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