What You Are Seeing


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This video, one of many classic slivers of factual hilarity that circulate through the infinite vascular passages of the Interweb year after year, is rarely attended by the backstory; very few people, therefore, are aware of the dark context surrounding this boy’s comical crash landing. But the We Are Scientists, through a typically rigorous series of séances and trips to the library, have uncovered the story behind the stumble, and report it to you herewith…
This short video depicts another sad subject of pop media’s delusion-weaving influence. The child in the clip spent the better part of the morning watching the first season of NBC’s hit Saturday morning cartoon ‘The Gummy Bears’ on DVD. His father, Ernstlich, concerned by the increasing tendency toward “indoor activities” his son had shown in recent months, finally ambushed the screening and dragged the boy down the block toward the public pool, where he intended to manufacture for his camcorder a highly-memorable memory: his son’s first solo leap into the water.
Of course the child had been in the pool before, but always by wading in gently from the steps or being held by the scruff of his bathing outfit and tossed — never had he of his own volition entered avec force. And so Ernstlich was seventy percent sure, as he walked his boy past carefully manicured lawns down level, crackless sidewalks, that the boy would need significant prompting when it came time to roll camera. To that end, he had stuffed into an auxiliary pocket of the camcorder case Milky the Manticore, a handpuppet of Ernstlich’s own exceedingly crude construction of which the boy nevertheless had a near hysterical fear. It was Milky the terrycloth Manticore, you see, who during the child’s scant young years had occupied the dual role of ruthless interrogator and harsh meter-out of penalty. Hot was Milky’s temper and notoriously fragile his tolerance for whining and bedwetting; and if his sentences recalled the Greek king Draco in their extremity, you’d have to go back nearly 4000 years, past Hammurabi and his stone-etched code, to find an execution of law with less rhyme, less predictability, than that of the button-snouted Manticore.
The boy would not require Milky’s peculiar breed of inspiration on this day, however, for his spirit was girded by the Gummy Bears’ flagrant (negligent?) optimism, and perhaps a little bit too the warm June sun; the warm, gently swishing wind, so energized and delicious-tasting after the still t.v. room; and the miles of open air unfurling between him and a jacks-toss of small, finely-carved clouds. So consciously inspired was he, though, by those bouncing bears, that when dad called “action!” the little guy attempted not just a leap into the pool, but a bounce-into-a-leap — the sort of modest maneuver a juiced-up gummy bear tosses off as instinctively as a person adjusting their step to join an escalator. And though the boy felt very strongly in a general way that he had gummy juice charging around in his veins, he hadn’t ever actually drunk any, as he’d have realized had he carefully gone over the morning in his head.
Unhappy postscript: the video stops an instant before the picture rolls forward and dives toward the cement, the camera dropped by a hand flushed and twitching with life, like a raw red framework of muscle and bone waiting to don its Milky suit.