“Through a Glass Darkly:” Yo! Having latest toy not end of it

BY BOB ANDERSON

Kids, here is important advice: If you can’t make a yo-yo do magnificent tricks, don’t worry.

What? You don’t know what a yo-yo is. Well, sit down for five minutes and listen to someone who used to be a kid.

When I was in grade school — that’s what you probably call elementary school — fads came along every few months. Somebody sold something new and suddenly everybody had to have one.

If you didn’t have enough money to get the new toy, you felt left out. Sometimes the new thing became so popular that almost every kid had one.

Then companies would start making better or prettier ones that cost more money. That’s what happened with yo-yos.

If you’ve never seen a yo-yo, think of a fat Oreo cookie made of wood.

Imagine the white center as a neat wrap of string. A little of the string stuck out with a loop that fit over your middle finger.

To make the yo-yo work, you dropped it and let the string unravel as it fell. At the right moment, you tugged with your middle finger and the yo-yo rolled back up the string to your hand

It seemed like magic when you first got the feel for it.

Working a yo-yo was something like casting a fly rod. Oh, you don’t know what a fly rod is. Well forget that. It wasn’t a great analogy anyway.

You could make a yo-yo go up and down and up and down, once you got the hang of it.

Before long, almost every boy and a few girls had yo-yos.

If an alien in a space ship had looked down at a school yard, he would have puzzled over why so many young earthlings made cookies go up and down on strings.

Some kids discovered they could make yo-yos do tricks, like landing on the floor and rolling. They called that one “walking the dog.” Then they could give just the right jerk and their yo-yos would roll back up to their hand.

Toy companies found they could make fancier, more expensive yo-yos that made my green, wooden one look clunky.

Try as I might, I couldn’t make mine do anything but go up and down, while some kids were making their shiny new ones do astonishing tricks.

Kids in the school yard gathered to watch the experts. People had yo-yo contests, and some kids got on TV to show off the amazing things they could do with their yo-yos.

Still, mine would just go up and down the string.

Convinced that if I got a more expensive one with painted swirls, I could do magnificent tricks, I saved my pennies and nickels.

Before I saved enough, a new fad came along. Nobody gathered anymore to watch kids who could do yo-yo tricks.

So, if you don’t have the greatest new toy, or can’t make your computer game do all the things another kid can, don’t despair.

If you were able to read this column from top to bottom, you’re ahead in a much more important game.

Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to banderson@theadvocate.com.