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The Idle American
"On the Bubble..."
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 • Posted March 6, 2013

Though documentation may be several years away, athletes coming of age in the 50s, 60s and 70s perhaps had a decided edge in development of coordination.

A criticism commonly heard during the first half of the 20th century subsided. I refer to the hurtful comments often made of gangly youngsters “unable to walk and chew gum at the same time.”

Thanks to Topps Bubble Gum and its insertion of baseball trading cards into gum packages from 1950-1981, some of the clumsiest of athletes quickly turned coordination corners. They could chew gum, blow bubbles, walk and trade baseball cards—simultaneously and with great precision….

    *****

Topps had it going, piquing youngsters’ athletic interest at early ages. The gum also provided jaw exercises and encouraged competition—bubble blowers bragged on the biggest, quickest, oddest, longest-lasting, etc. There was extra credit for face coverage when big ‘uns popped.

Sadly, electronic games, the digital age and assorted “apps” have youngsters locked-in now. These days, even kids’ jaws aren’t getting any exercise—mostly just their thumbs.

TV plays a huge role, too, and today’s youth have many choices. Sports remain gargantuan in popularity—usually long before youngsters’ ability to walk and chew gum at the same time is an issue….

    *****

Kedren Penney is a good example. His sports interest was minimal at age five, but a year later, he’s into all seasonal sports.

He picks teams to cheer for on TV, and expects everyone else in the room to do likewise, preferably the one opposing his. If his team does poorly, his allegiance switches on a dime.

He knows players’ numbers, team names and stats, etc. A while back, he noticed the name Louie Gohmert on the TV screen. Noting the “R” after the congressman’s name, he asked, “Dad, does that mean he’s a rookie?”…

    *****

A victim of food allergies in his early years, he was a good sport about eating food brought from home while others dined on restaurant fare.

When he was four, he pretended to “read” the label on restaurant crackers to see if they were safe for consumption. Mumbling “milk, egg and soy” from memory, he made a “no-crackers-for-me” comment.

Impressed with free books available at the library, he recently asked his mom, “Will we ever use our card up?”…

    *****

Some of kids’ best lines occur in transit. Between games of “I spy” something yellow, red, blue and other colors—with antennas ever alert for “slug bugs”—they often read signs, some of which mystify them.

Kedren once saw a sign proclaiming “First Church of God.”

“I’ll bet that’s not really God’s first church,” he said….

    *****

Another youngster, Amelia Abbett—five at the time—was among dozens of relatives at the funeral visitation of a 95-year-old loved one. Included were children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the deceased.

With a deepening understanding of the loss, Amelia asked a distant cousin, “When will you die?” Answer: “When I get real old.” Amelia: “How old are you now?” Answer: “69.”

“Well, it shouldn’t be long now,” Amelia blurted….

    *****

Halle Webb, Amelia’s first cousin, was rehearsing something special for her pre-school graduation.

“What were you practicing today?” her mother asked the four-year-old.

Pausing, Halle answered, “We were rehearsing a special song, but don’t tell yourself, because it’s a secret!”…

    *****

Much is expected of ministers’ children, who somehow manage to survive “fishbowl existence” and the repetition of church goings-on.

One nameless minister’s son, maybe 10, blushed regularly at weddings, knowing an older congregant would find him at the reception to poke him in the ribs. Then she’d add, “You’re next!” He’d redden as others guffawed nearby.

One day he saw her at a funeral. When the service ended, he hurried to her side, gave her a good rib-poke and blurted two words for all to hear.

“You’re next,” he joked….

    *****

I am heartened when I hear youngsters tell jokes—or even attempt to share them.

And that’s true whether or not the “teller” even understands the punch line.

One youngster told another about a chicken that nudged a duck just before his web-footed friend crossed the road. “Don’t do it,” the chicken warned, “You’ll never hear the end of it!”…

    *****

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Speaking inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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