The other day I parked my blue Subaru Outback in front of my office and went to work all day. After work, I went out to my car (“my” car — you know what’s coming) and as my hand reached for the back door my brain registered a skateboard in the back seat.
Did my brain then immediately alert me that this was not my vehicle? No, it did not. Rather, in the split second it took me to reach for the door, notice the skateboard, and find the door to be locked, what my beguiled brain told me was “OMG, someone thinks you’re cool enough to learn to ride a skateboard!” And I briefly got excited about my future persona as a middle-aged skater before boring old common sense resumed its dominance in my frontal lobe.
Although the mistaken identity Subaru incident resulted in me getting neither (A) a new lease on life nor (B) a remarkably sweet skateboard, it did result into a perfect segue into a story that confers me with marginally more street cred.
I recently attended a poetry reading (no, that’s not the street cred, but oh that it were!) and prior to reading a particular poem one of the featured poets asked, “Does anyone know what hooky-bobbing is?” Well, my hand shot up so fast that had it detached from my wrist, it might have become impaled on the ceiling of the venue. Because you don’t grow up in Wenatchee and not know what hooky-bobbing is.
I glanced about me smugly, fully expecting to be the only person with a hand raised. (It was a small audience, and thus a reasonable assumption.) But no, I was not alone, and in fact someone else was waving her hand even more emphatically than the teacher’s pet in me was remotely controlling my own.
And that person? Midge Conner of Twisp, who, as if channeling the words from my own head, was saying “You don’t come from Wenatchee and not know what hooky-bobbing is.”
The poet quietly set his poems back on the podium and stepped aside indulgently, in order to surrender air time to Midge and me, as we played the “You grew up in Wenatchee? I grew up in Wenatchee!” game.
When the poet was able to interject a word — a single word, but loaded with meaning, the way poets are able to do — he encouraged us to enlighten the rest of the audience about the apparently little-known past-time of hooky-bobbing, which some of you know involves standing in a snowy — or preferably icy — parking lot and grabbing hold of the bumpers of passing cars and sliding on one’s boots until one is thrown to the ground by the speed of the vehicle or, sometimes painfully, due to a snowbank or FOD, which I learned recently is motorcycle speak for “field of debris.”
Hooky-bobbing doesn’t seem to have been as popular in other parts of the country as it was in Wenatchee, but the poet, who is from Wisconsin, grew up “bobbing” and had written a poem about it, which Midge and I eventually graciously allowed him to share. And we absorbed his verse, our own mundane memories of Friday nights in Wenatchee rendered magical by equal parts poetic language and nostalgia.