I halted before an after-Christmas-sale toy display. What to my wondering eyes should appear, but a rattling, green-and-purple-striped Hula Hoop®.
Shades of the 1950s. I looked down. Was I was wearing anklets and Mary Janes?
As a four-year-old, I marveled as my friend Kathy bobbed and wiggled. Her hoop never touched the ground. Though my few borrowed sessions consisted of rattle-rattle-clunks, I wished the Hula Hoop® and I could be best friends forever (BFF).
But my mother doomed my dream. She said I could not steal it. So, I begged for a birthday hoop.
She informed me: a) $1.98 was a lot of money; and b) they were impossible to find. Wham-O sold 100 million hoops in 1958, with demand outracing supply. No hoop for me.
She lied. On my birthday, I received a green Hula Hoop®! When Dad sent it rolling toward a busy street, I shrieked. Had I found my BFF, only to lose her? To my utter amazement, Hoop rolled back to him. Birthday magic was complete.
My favorite toy accompanied our family on a mission trip to Mexico. Happily, the street children also spoke Hula Hoop®. Unknown to me, my neighbor Maria bragged about my superiority. This gringa, she proclaimed, could keep the hoop going 12 hours straight.
Another pigtailed girl faced me, a gleam of challenge in her dark eyes.
My BFF turned traitor. Rattle-rattle-clunk. Rattle-rattle-clunk. I failed my country.
I didn’t leave the mission compound for awhile. Maria joined a temporary witness protection program. During retirement, though, I couldn’t remain apart from Hula Hoop®. Our glory days were past. But we would stick together, come rattle-rattle or clunk.
Before long, our family planned a return to the States. My parents insisted we did not have room in the car for Hoop and my new baby brother.
Why not leave Brother and take Hoop with us? But no one asked my opinion, so I sadly tucked my BFF behind a dresser so no one else could play with her.
Fast-forward several decades. My sister insisted on introducing me to her new exercise equipment. Sessions with it had strengthened her core, she said.
A Hula Hoop®.
These days, I cannot even find my core. As I watched her bob and wiggle, I wondered: could an old friend aid in my search?
The New Year and my surprise Hula Hoop® encounter had reawakened both core conscience and childlike longings. I brought the hoop home.
Our sessions have largely consisted of rattle-clunks. My core remains AWOL. But I harbor no qualms about exposing my flab to Hula Hoop®.
After all, what are BFFs for?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What was your favorite childhood toy?