Upside-Down Obo


Little Otto Bob O’Reiniero was a boy with the curious habit of turning things upside down.

Everyone called him Li’l Obo, of course, ever since he was a little baby. They would laugh at the babe’s single-minded fascination with the way his toy clown, weighed down at bottom, would right itself after every attempt to topple it. Later, he would upturn his toy cars, bury the faces of every block, and upend every book in the bookcase so their titles were facing downward. Everyone stopped laughing, of course, once Li’l Obo started spilling the contents of boxes all over the carpet, the planter mix going everywhere, the dog’s food staining the floor.       

He spent long afternoons on his head, leaning against the tree in the front yard with his feet in the air. When people asked him why he was standing on his head, he just replied that he wanted to see what things looked like with the sky on the bottom and the ground at the top, and they would chuckle and shake their heads. Looking upward at their nostrils and undersides of their chins, they seemed strangely grotesque and fascinating to Obo, but he said nothing. Soon they’d walk away, and eventually his head would feel too rushed to keep that position for long, anyway.

Obo grew up to be quite the expert and turning things upside down, although it made it hard for him to set the table, seeing as how the surface was laid against the floor, and the plates and cups and things overturned on the underside. His parents gave up asking him to take the garbage out quite quickly, and although his room was always neat and tidy, the clock read nine, or rather six, when it was noon and his posters featured jet planes racing toward the earth and basketball players in mid-slam drop.     

Usually in these kinds of stories, the hero always manages to find a way to use his special talent in order to save the day, after all the other and more conventional solutions fail to work. Sure, there were little moments of Win, such as the time grown-up Obo saved the company millions by pointing out a key loophole in the ledger because he read the financials upside-down, or the time he invented the Flipped Cupcake and saved the so-called “Bakery Bubble” from an investment collapse. He even flew to Australia and wrote the definitive long-term intensive study on the lives of giant fruit bats. But despite all of this, Obo managed to invert the typical story as success was still denied him, and people dismissed him as, at best, a ineffective eccentric, or worse, completely neurotic.

And so Obo lived the rest of his days alone in an upside-down house, balanced perfectly on its vaulted roof, an architectural wonder of his own design. He entertained visitors occasionally, those who found his quirks charming and could challenge him in a game of Reversi.

It might be the opposite of what you would choose, but it makes Obo very happy, which is still a very nice moral to the story, if you think about it.