Yeah, so I am basically Indiana Jones.

I went on what I thought was going to be a relatively short hike today in Portland’s Forest Park, which is basically a 5000-acre National Forest inexplicably and awesomely stuck smack dab in the middle of city limits.

I’d been hiking for about an hour and was on the way back to my car when a woman in full running regalia stopped me and asked if I had seen her two sons, whom she had lost track of earlier.  She described them, and indeed I had seen them — about forty-five minutes prior walking in the opposite direction of where she had thought they had gone.  This is not entirely surprising, as Forest Park has a plethora of interweaving trails, and it’s actually surprisingly easy to get lost if you don’t pay attention to the names of all the various routes.  Adults get turned around all the time.  I took her in the general direction of where I had last seen them and then we split up, each going a different route on different trails to better the odds of running into them, as she texted her husband who was busy looking in a completely different part of the park.

But even that wasn’t so easy, because in order to cover ground quickly I had to run the trail, which turned out to be oddly problematic. You see, since the first week of June I’ve lost about 25 pounds, which on the one hand is kind of awesome, but on the other hand means that my shorts no longer fit — and because there’s only so much like my father I am willing to look, I refuse to wear a belt with short pants. And so twice while running my khaki shorts actually fell down over my ankles, which made me trip over them and then have to look around violently to make sure that no one was around to see.  After that, I kept running — all the while using one hand to hold my pants up.  And as I’m running, it’s hitting me for the first time in my life how good a thing it is that squirrels cannot operate cameras.

Long story short: I found the lost boys, called their mom, and took them to meet her at a specified trailhead. Afterwards I was thinking about this, and it hit me how fine the line is between hero/good Samaritan and busybody/stalker.

Today I found the kids, so I get to be the former.  But in some alternate timeline where the kids had taken a different turn here or doubled back there and their mom found them, then I probably go into the latter category.  It’s pretty easy to imagine how the conversation between the mom and the dad goes an hour after the kids have been found when I’m text messaging to follow up:


Dad: Who’s that?

Mom: Oh, it’s this guy I talked to for like two minutes on the trail.  He’s texting me.

Dad: He’s texting you? Why is he texting you? Was he hitting on you?

Mom: No, he was just this guy I passed and I asked if he’d seen the kids, and then he started following me around saying he wanted to “help” me.  I think he’s lonely.

Dad: I’m a little worried that he has your phone number.  You didn’t tell him where we lived, did you?

Mom: Of course not, I’m not stupid.  I’ll have my cell number changed first thing in the morning.

Dad: Good, I think I’ll sleep better if you do. Also, maybe we should get you a handgun?

But since I was lucky enough to find the kids, I’m a real, bonafide hero.  In fact, I think I’m not going too far out on a limb to say that if it weren’t for me, the parents never would have found the boys and the whole family would have eventually died of starvation in the park.

Also, I got the vibe from these boys that they are going to grow up to kill the next Hitler, or find the last-minute cure for the coming Super-Plaugue, or lead the human resistance against the Robot Uprising, or something like that.  The details are a little vague, but the important point is that I’m pretty sure I just saved all of mankind.

You’re welcome.



Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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29 Responses

  1. Mike Schilling says:

    “Don’t ever go off on your own like that again! It was a good thing I met that nice man that found you.”

    “I don’t know how nice he was, mom. The whole time he was taking us to meet you, he kept “adjusting” his pants.”

  2. Burt Likko says:

    1. You’ve lost 25 pounds? Holy fish, that’s awesome! No, wait. It’s not just awesome, it’s space awesome!

    2. Seriously, dude. Belts. No one wants to see what’s under your shorts. I say this as a friend, from a place of love.

    3. The difference between a hero and a fool is success. The difference between a hero and a creep is determined by your state’s anti-stalking statute.

  3. Road Scholar says:

    One word: suspenders.

    You can accessorize with lederhosen and one of those cute little hats with the feather and you’re all set.

    You’re welcome.

    • veronica d says:

      Or just wear shorts that fit.

      Geeze louise what is it with you men and your canvas tents for clothes!

      Oh and thanks for saving the world.

  4. Murali says:

    All hail our Tod

  5. James Hanley says:

    Thank you, Tod. I’ve been worried about my children having to face the robot revolution. Now I’ll be able to sleep at night again.

    As a payback, might I suggest a khaki web belt. Those look ok with khaki shorts bevause they’re also casual. And they’re a bit militaryish, so there’s not much nerd factor.

  6. LeeEsq says:

    If you were really Indiana Jones you would have found an artifact of unspeakable supernatural powers that would provide clean energy for Oregon. ;).

    Congratulations on your emergent hero status. I suspect the block buster would come soon.

  7. zic says:

    My sweetie and I had a similar conversation last weekend, sans saving the world. I’d gone out to photograph the supermoon, he decided to tag along. I don’t like to carry a heavy tripod with me, so night shots are either hand held (which rarely works) or more often taken with the camera resting on something that allows me to crop the shot and manual shutter release with a 1-second delay. So I carefully set this shot up of the full moon between trees, power lines, and the roof of a house; it takes a couple of minutes to do this, and then shoot enough shots that I feel confident a few will capture what I’d been looking for.

    As I finished, a family walked by, through the street light, also looking at the rising moon. I asked the little girl if I could take her photo, and proceeded to do so.

    As we walked away from the spot, my Sweetie says, “I can’t do that.”

    “What,” I ask, “take pictures of the full moon?” thinking it’s because the camera on his smart phone isn’t good enough.

    “Point my camera at peoples’ houses and take a bunch of pictures, take pictures of little girls.”


    “People would think I’m a stalker, think it’s creepy.”

    We had a long talk about what photographers actually do, and how they have to get over this urge that they’re invading people’s privacy, how it’s important to photography people (and things) respectfully.

    But yes, this hero/creep discord is difficult for men. Question is, why?

    • Murali says:

      Same reason that women can smile and casually talk to some else’s kids and come across as friendly while a guy who does the same is a possible kidnapper or dangerous pervert (or at least perceived as one)

    • James Hanley says:

      Question is, why

      Heh, we’re told all the time that women are the nurturers, and warned about how creepy dangerous men are. And there’s some reason for that latter part (I say, as the parent of three young women), but it’s such a pervasive cultural subtext that of course men who get involved in any way except stereotypical masculine hero actions like rushing into burning buildings or lifting heavy objects off people run the risk of being perceived as creepy.

      • Doctor Jay says:

        There are a lot of children in my life, many of them who are other people’s children. It’s worst with total strangers. Once people see you for a while, they will tend to relax and thing, “Oh, it’s Jay!” rather than “What a weirdo!” if you talk to their children.

        But it’s like making friends with a cat. You have to let them set the pace.

      • Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        I hate this part of our culture. Truly I do, although I will say it is very much a middle & upper class white thing.

      • veronica d says:

        I’ll chime in as the official forum ranting feminist ( @zic is the official non-ranting feminist) — but anyway, yeah, I totally agree. This sucks for men and is both 1) completely unfair and 2) bad for kids, since it cuts in half the nurturing people children will encounter in public. It diminishes our lives.

        As I alluded to in one of the Mike Brown threads, last week I ended up helping a young, mentally ill woman who was having a crisis involving her mom. It’s a long story, but the short version is, I called the police and then held her hand until the police and paramedics arrived. She kept vocally saying she loved me and wanted to stay with me forever so I could protect her. (I had only just met her, when she grabbed my hand on the street and begged for help.)

        As a women, I faced no suspicion from the police, nor from the paramedics, nor from the neighbors who came out to gawk. As a man, it would have been different.

        I don’t know how to fix this.

    • Doctor Jay says:

      Freud (and many others) described a behavioral dichotomy as aggression v. affiliation. It is my opinion that we have culturally assigned aggression as masculine behavior and affiliation as feminine behavior. Stuff like this is the consequence.

      In baldly stereotyped terms: men are killers, women are nurturers.

  8. ScarletNumbers says:

    Three helpful guidelines to avoid the alternate scenario:

    1) Be handsome
    2) Be attractive
    3) Don’t be unattractive

  9. Miss Mary says:

    I’m calling you next time I get lost in Forest Park.

    I’m glad the boys are okay! That was very nice of you to help look for them. I’d just die if my son were lost. Congrats on the weight you lost!

  10. Damon says:

    Nice work Tod, both on the weight and the kid finding.

    I faced a similiar problem when I’d lost about the same amout of weight. I’d not gotten new pants, and while standing at the airport, I sneezed. The pants ALMOST fell down completely, only catching on my rear end. I went out and bought new jeans the day after I got back home.

    And just how old were these kids? Didn’t they have a trail map? Didn’t they have have a designated meeting up point? Didn’t they have cell phones? Were they prepared, in any way, if they got lost?

  11. Chris says:

    Kids these days, with their pants down around their knees.

  12. If you’re using the phrase “short pants”, you’ve already turned into your father.