Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Desperately Seeking Yo-Yos

Sorry I haven't updated, I'm battling to come up with ideas for some of the suggestions, but I think I've got my mo-jo back, and I'm keen to plough on, and with my friend Jacx wanting me to tell my yo-yo story, I thought this would get me over the hump...

Desperately Seeking Yo-Yos

Recently, a friend of mine suggested that people of my age were really the last generation who had to go out and play. I began to reply, but I was achingly aware that to say "oh we went out and played with a frisbee" or such like things was to invite derision at to just how old I was, and that to talk about how my childhood was devoid of Playstations and DVDs would make me sound like an old Grandma, and the queue to the Country Womans Association and the jam making club was calling.

The one thing that I haven't seen lately is anyone playing with a yo-yo. The only people who are hanging around Melbourne with a yo-yo are stoned students who can't afford a hacky-sak, and buskers who aren't talented enough to juggle. Even then, there seems to be a limited amount of tricks performed, the yo-yo profession failing to move forward from the big two, the round the world and the walking the dog. Once you've achieved those two tricks, there's not a lot else to do, and it's time to pick up the frisbee. There are times when around the skateboaring scene, the yo-yo comes out and people are vaguely impressed, but for the most part, yo-yos are not cool, and apart from one magical moment in 1986, they never really have been. I was present for that magical week, and I'm proud to tell the tale.

In Grade 2, it seemed everyone had a yo-yo, and the ultimate in cool was to own a Coca-Cola yo-yo. Well, gold in theory, more yellow spray paint really, but considering it came after sending in 24000 ring pulls from cans of Coke, it was quite the effort to get one. It said COCA COLA in red, swirly letters. Kevin McKay was the first person to get one, and then I got one just in time that they were still cool. We spent our lunchtimes trying to do tricks, failing, but just standing around looking cool in our tracksuits, the yellow paint glinting in the sunlight, looking to the casual observer just like gold. It was on one such day that an announcement came over the public address system - the following day, the Coca Cola Yo-Yo team was performing at our school, especially for us. Naturally, we couldn't concentrate on maths footy, and any discussion of Fungus the Bogeyman was suspended for the afternoon. The entire night passed so slowly, it seemed like a year until the big day came, and we gathered cautiously, our little hands clasped around Fruit Boxes, nervously waiting, until a loud, thumping disco beat came over the PA system...they were here...

We gathered in excited groups the following morning to chat and plan. It was considered that if we could somehow get our tricks in their eyeline, maybe we could join the Coca Cola Yo-Yo team, maybe we could travel the world. I desperately tried to perfect my walk the dog in a hurry, but it was the same old problem, not so much walk the dog as the less impressive trick "tangled up in string", and my hands wound up messed up in the yo yo string, while I desperately tried to convince everyone I really wanted to do a "cats cradle". Kevin McKay scoffed, and walked his dog perfectly. I snorted derisively. Secretly, I was very jealous, but outwardly, I had appearances to maintain. "That's SO not Walking The Dog!" I said, pouting. "It SO is Stringy!" he said, mockingly. We stared at each other, for most of the day to be honest, until it was time to assemble in front of a hastily constructed wooden stage, and as the magic of "Funky Town" by Psuedo Echo pulsed through our eardrums, on they came, one by one, pumping their fists. We moved uneasily. We thought they'd be cool, but they looked like bouncing, cheesy bennys, all sparkling white teeth. We quickly took our cue from Amber Bennett, who looked at her watch and turned her neck behind her to try and find a way out. We were already losing heart, but we thought if they could at least get through the yo-yo tricks, they might save the day.

For some reason, overnight they had become the American Coca Cola Yo-Yo team according to Dull Dave, who was in charge of the less than excited introduction, and the leader, Marv, bounded on stage in a Stars and Stripes tracksuit, exhorting us to keep the energy moving...and then it happened, Marv skipped backwards, and another guy in the same tracksuit bounded forward, to warm us up with a little Round The World...and as he spun, a female in a red cheerleader Wonder Woman style bra took up her position to the left...and I don't know whether she distracted him or the wind changed, but I can still see it, as clear as day, as the yo yo spun wildly above his head, and then, as it came down, hit him right in the back of the head, and knocked him unconscious, his previously body popping energetic body landing face down on the wooden stage, landing with a dull pop, and he rolled backwards, a demented, strange smile on his face. Marv looked at his fallen comrade, then bounded in front of him, and yelled "NOW WE PARTY" which was a strange declaration. As the other members tended to their fallen comrade, and dragged him away, Marv tried to keep up apperances, dancing and clapping. He then produced from his pocket a real gold yo-yo, that genuinely sparkled, and tried to make it dance and spin, but the spell was well and truly broken. It was clear that even with a life time of yo-yo mastery, these people weren't cool, just idiots in gaudy tracksuits. We swayed from side to side, suddenly bored, and aware of how cold it was. I looked over to Kevin McKay, who was smiling sadly. The craze was well and truly over. They tried to win us back, but nothing worked. After 1/2 an hour, they bounded off, defeated, to less than polite applause. Dull Dave was amused though, chuckling over the PA as we went back to Maths.

I think in many ways, that was my first childhood disappointment. I can still see the sun setting over the hill, and a group of disappointed, dejected kids, putting their yo-yos in the bin. I watched them go, sadly, from the top of the fort. I was aware that something had changed in our lives, that whatever we did, we would not be fooled by marketing again, that we wouldn't trust crazes, that we would be bohemian, individual, that whatever the man tried to foist on us, we would be suspicious....we would be wary...

Then Amber Bennett brought in a packet of stickers and yelled "Look what I GOT" and we realised that there was no way we could let HER get one up on us, and the whole crazy cycle of Grade 2 life was about to begin again...


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