I have a tendency toward the spontaneous.
Now before I go further, let’s me define the term using it’s Latin root words. “Sponte”—meaning “of one’s own accord” and “neous” —meaning “the tendency to jump off or onto nearby objects”.
I’ve jumped off the ledge at the mini golf course to see if my Putt Putt ball sailed through the windmill and into the 18th hole (it didn’t).
I’ve jumped into a swanky private swimming pool fully-clothed because I notioned my eight-year-old was drowning (she wasn’t).
I hopped onto a Taiwanese doctor’s sink to shave my leg after he removed a plaster cast because I thought it would be better manners than having one hairy leg (it wasn’t —in fact, during the era that I did this, the Taiwanese didn’t even sell razor blades for men, much less women, as neither seemed hairy enough to need shaving and those that did, just didn’t care — and if you are critiquing this maneuver for not being a jump, please remember that I had just had a broken ankle, for Pete’s sake — a couple of more weeks and it would have definitely qualified).
Which brings me quite naturally to jump-ropes. (Did you leap with me just now to this paragraph?)
Without jump ropes, first grade would have been extremely terrifying. Dozens of new kids, all wearing tube socks, armed with freshly sharpened pencil lead, and doped up on high fructose corn syrup. Seemed that everyone but me knew about bringing money for sticky sugar necklaces and playing games like “who stole the cookie.”
First grade meant metal lockers to get trapped in and little red chew pellets to measure the effectiveness of your toothbrush. It meant lines to wait in and tiny little bathrooms at the back of the room that you only got to go into when you raised your hand. First grade meant read-aloud narratives with Dick and Jane, who were always chasing a dog named Spot and true-life scenarios with the kid in my class, who stayed under his desk all day. There were boys that kissed you, and others who punched you, and one who was especially keen on knocking out your already loose teeth. Yes, first grade would have been tragic had it not been for the jump rope.
The jump rope was a grand invention. Simple in design, yet complex in its hierarchy, it was the perfect supplement to the playground. Lower soil-based life forms like me began their introduction to skipping rope by standing at one or the other end to keep it swinging. Monotonous, this capacity allowed the swinger to memorize the rhymes.
Then I opened my mouth and repeated after them saying:
“Cinderella, dressed in yellow
went upstairs to kiss a ‘fella
made a mistake
and kissed a snake
how many doctors
did it take?”
“Down by the river, down by the sea,
Johnny broke a bottle and blamed it on me.
I told ma, ma told pa,
Johnny got a spanking so ha ha ha.
How many spankings did Johnny get?
1, 2, 3….”
“Not last night, but the night before
24 Robbers came knocking at my door
As I ran out
They ran in
This is what I heard them say:
You’d better turn around
You’d better touch the ground
You’d better get out of town”
At some point, I decided that I wanted to move from rope holder to actual jumper in the skip pecking order, so I did what I assume all first graders do: I asked my mother about it. Seems that, from her opinion, the whole jump-rope thing had been around for much longer than I’d imagined, dating back to the antediluvian era of when my mother was a child. She promptly bought me an extra long jump-rope and put me on a grueling in-house training program.
Since my mother didn’t allow me to say this particular word in our house, I’ll just say that my H-E-double-toothpick week wasn’t really all that bad. For one thing, I always got to be the jumper. My sister was already married and neither of my middle-aged parents seemed desirous of clearing the ground with their feet.
My dad seemed as excited about holding one end of a rope as stepping barefoot in a dirty diaper, but he acquiesced when mother bought him his own large jar of Brer Rabbit Molasses for biscuits. Of course, he inevitably got off rhythm, especially when there were major sporting events on our black and white Magnavox.
All in all I progressed on this harsh regimen and had soon moved into the line of awaiting jumpers at recess. I could turn around, touch the ground, and even do hot peppers with the best of them — all quite spontaneously, I might add.
And come to think of it, it did not begin with jump ropes. At least not in this blog post….
“Spontaneous” – (adjective) –“performed as an irrational response to a sudden inner impulse without premeditation or external stimulus”. Origin from mid 17th Century Latin “sponte” – meaning “of one’s own accord” and “neous” – “the tendency to change blog posts from their intended purpose by the third paragraph”.
(Now that’s what I call spontaneous!)
My first grade class…