Hula Hoops and History

The Pups are playing early on the Heavy Surf bill.  Our likely job is get the crowd revved up and in the mood for the other acts on the show.  Or at least provide background music while they eat, drink, talk, and wander in and out of the Beach Hut Deli for a cigarette.  That means putting out 30 minutes of energy to an audience who really may not care about our music and probably may be interested only in the bands to follow.

To ready ourselves, we have set regular band practices.  This last Tuesday night was a regular band practice.  I was beat. 

It was “after glow” from my high school reunion over the weekend.  People came from as far away as Alaska and New York.  As a local, I was on the reunion committee.  To practice for our place on the Heavy Surf bill, I was emcee for the reunion.  The task was simple:  Get and try to keep the attention of a 175 or so folks who are mostly hard of hearing, intent on catching up on years of kids and grandchildren, and not really interested in what I had to say.

Several dry runs of the presentation revealed it was about 8 minutes long.  Eight minutes can seem like an eternity to room full of impatient people.  On the way to the reunion, Becky asked me to go over the talk.  After we cut out anything that could be considered political, mildly controversial, or a veiled insult, it was down to seven minutes. 

The plan was to cover some of the historical events which occurred since we left high school.  After all, my class witnessed or participated in wars, invasions, the Cold War, the fall of the Soviet Union, 9/11, a plethora of movements (civil rights, women’s, gay rights, peace, anti-war, nuclear disarmament, Free Speech, Filthy Speech, free sex, the Tea Party, and Occupy Wall Street, just to name a few), the assassinations or attempted assassinations of our leaders, the resignation of a President, efforts to impeach a President, the space race, and man walking on the Moon.  Those were the highlights.

As I took the podium, one look at the crowd brought clarity.  An abridged version was in the cards. 

Welcome.  A moment of silence for the 20 percent of our classmates who had died.  Introduce and thank the teachers who attended; some had left already as they were in their 80s and fading.  At that point, the attention of the sexagenarians packed into the “ball room” was waning.  The din was rising.

Screw history and the planned talk.  Let’s try something light-hearted.  “We’ve witnessed a bunch of fads and fashions over our lifetimes.  Remember the Levis that you would not let your Mom wash?”  Laughter.  As I ticked off other fads and fashions, the attention of the crowd progressively wandered off as did the overall sense of humor.  Fat belts.  Thin belts.  Fat ties.  Skinny ties.  Anything tie-dyed.  Mini-skirts.  Long hair.  Big hair.  Mullets.  Leisure suits.  Beanie Babies.  Pet Rocks.  Pac Man.  By then, the interest level was down to half the room.

Hold on.  The finale was on its way.  “And one of my personal favorites.  Something that was invented when we were young and is making a come back . . . the Hula Hoop!”  I pulled three hula hoops out from behind the podium and asked if anybody wanted to try.  Laughter.  No volunteers.  But, at least, we had most folks’ attention.

“Thank you and have fun.  This reunion is for you!”

Then, I tried to hula hoop.  Spin it.  Wiggle hips.  And it fell to the floor.  Again.  Same result.  Some folks laughed.  One brave soul tried to hula hoop with me.  We were quite a team.  Spin it.  Wiggle hips.  And it fell to the floor.  More laughter.  Hey, we at least tried.

Maybe hula hoops are for the young.  Or maybe . . . .

1 comment

  • Roberta Rohwer

    Roberta Rohwer

    Bill... you did 'good'...or in the correct vernacular... "well"! Both speechwise..and hula hoop effort! Thank you for all YOU did to make our reunion a HUGE success. It was appreciated by all who attended..and still is being appreciated by everyone on the website... those who couldn't come feel like they were right there with us via the website! Rock on, my friend...

    Bill... you did 'good'...or in the correct vernacular... "well"! Both speechwise..and hula hoop effort! Thank you for all YOU did to make our reunion a HUGE success. It was appreciated by all who attended..and still is being appreciated by everyone on the website... those who couldn't come feel like they were right there with us via the website! Rock on, my friend...

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