Picture this: a random, well-mannered person is walking along, going about their business. Suddenly, as if snatched by a hidden hand from the depths of the Earth itself, said person trips. Rather than gracefully fall or recover, this individual instead expands the spectacle and turns the trip into what appears to be an intentional spontaneous bout of running: a gentle jog, if you will. As if this person suddenly decided they needed a wee tiny bit of cardio workout, and I mean right freakin’ now, their feet leap to equine-like strides; propelling their not-quite-stationary body forward in the quite ungraceful stumble of someone recovering from just about falling flat on their damn face.
After seeing someone do this the other day, I was struck by how damnably funny it looks. I’ve done it. You, gentle reader, have probably done it as well. The big question, however, is why the hell do we feel the need to do this?
I’ve devoted just a tiny bit of brain time to this (I don’t have much to spare in the first place) and have come up with a couple of possible solutions.
Solution one: self-preservation.
Newton’s law states that force equals mass times acceleration. Depending on your mass, and how fast you were walking, that’s a lot of potential force. Everyone knows that kinetic energy is mostly not our friend. If it was, the Three Stooges and most Warner Bros. cartoons wouldn’t be nearly as dangerous/hilarious as they are. Humans (like most animals) are wired with fight or flight instincts. When faced with certain dangers (such as the pavement rudely grabbing our foot), most people will automatically try and flee the situation: hence the “little run.” I’m sure I’m not the only person who has seen someone launch into a “fight” response when tripping (as a society, we tend to want to look away from such unpleasantness), but those are about a rare as baby pigeons.
Solution two: saving face.
Human beings are a notoriously vainglorious species. We, as a general whole, like to put up a front of stalwartitude (yeah, I totally just made that word up) and stability while spending oodles of time and money on therapists/pills/seminars/books/life-coaches that actually convince us of said “self-togetherness.” The thought of showing frailty by not successfully being able to put one foot in front of the other (a quite repetitive action) is abhorrent. What weakness it must show to our fellow man if we lose control over the most base of the natural laws: gravity. By leaping into a jaunty jog, we are showing our aloofness at the whole situation.
Solution three: ghosts.
When in doubt, blame the supernatural. Why a rueful spirit would get its jollies (do ghosts even have jollies?) reaching up from the fiery depths to take a swipe at your ankles is beyond me, but I see no issue in running the hell away from them. Scooby Doo taught me that tidbit of wisdom. If I literally stumbled upon a weak spot in the veil and was given the option of either running the hell away or sticking around to be groped by shades unknown, I’ll gladly take the former option. That’s practically a no-brainer. Eff you, ghosts.