One day there was a boy named Tommy. Tommy was a regular boy, just like everyone else. He liked to jump and play on the playground at recess. He liked to hang out with his friends and laugh. He especially liked telling jokes, going on car rides, and playing board games. Tommy liked having fun.
But there was one thing Tommy wasn’t good at. He didn’t like to run very much. He just didn’t care much for it. Oftentimes, he and his friends would play tag at recess, where he was supposed to run. But Tommy didn’t like to, so he would always get tagged, and then his team would always lose.
Tommy’s friends resented this, but they didn’t say anything. They would sometimes grumble to themselves about his laziness, but they would forget about it soon after the game was over. And then they would all tell jokes and play games and have fun together again.
But every day they would play tag. And every day, Tommy’s friends resented him a little bit more. They would grumble to each other a little bit longer every day. Pretty soon, Tommy’s bad tag-playing became all his friends would think about when he was with them and all they would talk about when he wasn’t. They stopped listening to his jokes or playing any games with him.
Then they started telling other people about Tommy’s bad tag-playing. The other kids couldn’t believe what a bad tag-player Tommy was. How could someone be that bad at tag? Soon, all of the boys and girls that Tommy knew started grumbling to themselves. They would eye him from across the room and say, “Look at what a terrible tag-player he is…what is wrong with him?”
People stopped talking to Tommy altogether. Whenever he would enter the room, his friends would all have somewhere they had to go. Whenever he got hungry, everybody lost their appetites. When he wanted to go to the park, everybody got too tired.
Tommy had no one to play with anymore. He started playing games with himself and talking to himself to keep himself company. He would play his favorite game, Monopoly, all by himself, controlling all four sides of the board. He would come up with new jokes and tell them to himself to test their funniness.
Tommy’s friends started to notice Tommy’s new behavior. They would eye him from across the room and say, “Look how crazy Tommy is…he’s talking to himself…what is wrong with him?” They decided he was a loser, because he played alone. But no one invited him to play with them.
Eventually Tommy was forgotten. At school he would play his games alone in the corner of the room. His friends would occasionally peer over and see him and remember what a bad tag-player he was. After school, he would go home and stay inside until the next day. Tommy was just a regular boy who no longer had any friends. No one ever thought to tell him what a bad tag-player he was.
And soon after, Tommy's friends started winning all their games of tag.