Hula Hoop Won’t Spin For Grandpa

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 31, 2014

My sweet granddaughter, 5, in northern Virginia is a hula hooping phenom, and her old grandpa in North Carolina thought it would be a clever thing to take a grandpa-granddaughter hula hooping show on the road.

In shopping center parking lots across America, we could hula hoop as shoppers watch agog at our talent. Our tip jar would overflow with dollars, enough for Cayden’s college tuition. We could sell hula hoops and rake in endorsement deals.

The only problem is that her grandpa must learn to hula hoop.

How hard can it be if a mere child can do it? Little Cayden can spin the hoop effortlessly for 10 minutes or longer, even balancing two at once. First Lady Michelle Obama can hula hoop. Generations ago, half of America was hula hooping in a manic craze.

I am struggling.

Some have suggested men can’t hula hoop, that there’s something sexist about the hoop that forbids men from keeping the hoop spinning. I have watched multiple YouTube instructional videos to no avail.

Shaking my pelvis obscenely, I can rotate the hula hoop four times before it hits the ground. Some of the YouTube professionals give conflicting advice. I have tried everything.

Remember the hula hoop craze of the late 1950s? I’m not sure I could hula hoop even then when my waist was thinner.

Wham-O sold 25 million of the plastic hoops in four months when the toy was introduced — 100 million within two years. America couldn’t get enough of the new plastic hoops. Now the hula hoop is marketed as a fitness tool — for women — as well as fun for kids.

Sweet Cayden may have to depend on her other grandfather, Charles Delaney of Advance, as her hula hoop road show partner. I’ll pass the tip jar.

• • • •

The best Western movie ever? Look no further than “High Noon” for Larry Chance of Clemmons. He has submitted his own Top 10 list that includes only six of my list. We both put the 1952 black and white movie starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly on our Top 10 list, but I rated it lower. Chance considers it the best ever.

“I like the technique used to tell the story in real time. Whenever I watch ‘High Noon’, I feel the same tension felt by Gary Cooper’s character. I can feel the walls closing in with every tick of the clock and his coming to terms with the ultimate reckoning he faces, arriving on the train. It’s a superbly told story and it never gets old.”

Here’s his Western movie Top 10:

1. High Noon

2. Rio Bravo

3. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

4. Cat Ballou

5. The Magnificent Seven

6. Unforgiven

7. The Wild Bunch

8. The Good, the Bad and The Ugly

9. Fistful of Dollars

10. True Grit (John Wayne)

“Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” was a favorite song of my salad days. I was delighted to hear it on the Grammys on Sunday night, sung by 80-year-old Willie Nelson, 76-year-old Merle Haggard, 77-year-old Kris Kristofferson and the infant Blake Shelton, 37. Shelton had to carry the song. Octogenarian Willie looked very dashing in his black hat and long pigtails.

I watch the Grammys to find out how much about pop culture I don’t know. I had heard only a few of the nominated songs in any category.

Here’s what I took away from the show:

• The singer Pharrell Williams’ hats were wonderful. He may singularly bring back the hat in men’s fashion.

• Taylor Swift is wonderfully talented, beautiful and classy.

• Singer Ella Yelich O’Connor, or Lorde, is a quirky thing, but I like her song “Royals” even if I don’t understand it. She’s 17.

• New country singer Kacey Musgraves was delightful. I liked her “Merry Go ‘Round.” I especially liked her dressing in the traditional but short cowgirl dress with light-up boots.

• The two surviving Beatles, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, performed. The Beatles hit America 50 years ago.

— Dwight Sparks