Saturday a close friend reminded me of the toys we used to be able to buy for a dime. I have written in the past about the little balsa wood airplanes that cost that amount. But she recalled the paddle ball, a piece of wood with a rubber ball attached with an elastic cord to a staple in the middle of the paddle. Not very sturdy, but it did only cost ten cents!
In theory you bounced the ball out and back with the paddle, either overhand or underhand as the two children in the picture illustrate. In practice, however, I most often bonked myself or my sibling with the ball. This was not my favorite way to enjoy myself, but I always forgot that consequence whenever I bought a new one. Because, as you can easily guess, the previous one was either broken or confiscated.
Childhood seemed to provide numerous opportunities to be bonked on the head or face. Tether ball seemed to always leave me not only a loser (I really was too short to have a chance) but also bumped. Dodge ball’s sole purpose, of course, was to hit another child with a ball. A kickball, ineptly fielded, could hit my nose too. Where were all the overly solicitous safety concerns anyway?
I thought I had left all the chances to hit myself in the face behind me when I became an adult. But modern gyms have several pieces of equipment to repeat the experience. Perhaps naming one of them “slam balls” should be a clue. These can rebound off the wall right back at me if I am not careful. And weighted medicine balls can be hazardous too. Perhaps a full face guard should be the next addition to my home gym!