I hope that three weeks into the new year, it’s treating you well. At this point perhaps you are still clinging to a resolution or two and you remain optimistic about the year to come. I made no specific resolutions this year (with the exception of my constant desire to make the current year the one in which I learn to teleport), but I am looking forward to some great things coming up in 2023.
My oldest son who recently turned eighteen will be graduating from high school and will head off next fall to college to learn to do whatever amazing things he’s destined to do. My youngest will become old enough to earn his drivers’ license and the expansion of freedom that comes along with that. And then there are robotics competitions and track meets and fencing tournaments to look forward to, along with various trips that will be taken over the course of the year.
It’s off to a great start because already this year I have developed a new skill I didn’t even know I wanted. It all started because of a Christmas gift that appeared under my tree addressed to “Whomever wants it.”
The gift was from my sister. She’d picked up a deal on a weighted Hula Hoop and correctly assumed that someone in my family would enjoy it. After all, people have been playing with hoops for millennia. They’ve been rolled along the ground, thrown into the air, and jumped through. It was only a matter of time before someone stepped inside and started to wiggle their hips.
Allegedly Australian school children did just that with wooden hoops in the mid twentieth century, inspiring Wham-O toy company co-founder Arthur “Spud” Milen in March of 1963 to patent the “Hula Hoop,” because when an idea has more or less been around for millennia you worry someone else might come up with it first.
The Wham-O hoop is made of light-weight, hollow plastic tubing with a rattly bit inside and an often glittery outside. The company sold twenty-five million of their hoops in just a few months, earning $45 million in the first year of production.
The Hula Hoop became a sensational fad even inspiring a pitchy young chipmunk named Alvin to want one for Christmas. The Hula Hoop endures, though it’s now produced by a variety of manufacturers and even comes in weighted varieties for exercise. The fad did however cool somewhat heading into the 1980s when I was a child who never really learned how to properly use one.
I do remember having one, but I also remember giving up pretty quickly trying to swish it around my waist because no one particularly cared whether or not I could. And that’s how my 2023 got itself off to a great start, because I have something my ten-year-old self did not: YouTube.
I have no idea how the many faces of YouTube have time, or frankly desire, to record such useful instructional content, but over the last year or so, the platform has taught me to install a bicycle rack on my car, tie a bow tie for my son, disassemble the lock mechanism on my front door, and twist my hair into a charming messy bun, among many, many other useful skills. And now I can add another incredibly useful skill to the list.
I mean, I’m probably not good enough yet to win a beachside Hula Hoop contest or to make an instructional YouTube video of my own, but I’m at least as close to that as I am to learning how to teleport. And the year is still young.