Sometime around the middle of the last century, my mother, along with millions like her, went boom. Mother boomed thrice. First came my sister, then less than two years later, me. After a ten-year recovery of giving birth to me, she boomed her last and my brother appeared.
If births were sounds, each of the individual 75 million plus births from 1946 to 1964 would have been recorded as a pop about as loud as a burst balloon. Collectively, however, all those little pops would have sounded like the boom of a three-ton bomb. You can take it from me, a notoriously unreliable source, that this is why we are called boomers.
Not long after mother boomed me out into the world, the modern hula-hoop was birthed, or more likely extruded, since it was made of plastic tubing.
Those plastic tubes appeared in July1958, just about the time I would’ve been getting bored with summer vacation. Another 25 million or more kids were equally bored because that’s how many hula-hoops were sold between July and October of that year. The fad spread worldwide, one could say it circled the globe (if one were an incorrigible punster). After an outbreak of public gyrating, the Japanese banned it. The Russians denounced it as one more indication of western decadence and went back to drinking vodka.
Hoops have been around since the time of the Greeks who used metal hoops and probably wore bruises to prove it. Sometime in the 18th century the hoops became associated with the Hawaiian dance, the hula. I imagine the association stuck because of alliteration, since the hip action is not the same.
Two weeks ago I attended a “Hooping for Health” workshop at school. Apparently, hula-hoops are in circulation again among boomers. We spent an hour twirling, whirling, spinning, and learning tricks. I’m a very good hula hooper, if I do say so myself, and obviously I do. I easily walked forward and backward, maintaining the hoop around my middle like a personal equator. Then I learned to spin 360 degrees around inside the spinning hoop. Everyone clapped when I did that, even me.
Once the weather warms up, say around August if we’re lucky, I plan to buy a hula-hoop. Anything that makes me feel like a whirled champion is worth its weight in plastic.