The first time I ever saw one I was ten years old. The girl down the street was spinning one around her waist. I thought it was magic. Maybe she was a witch or a fairy. She had to be. Nobody could keep that thing floating in circles like that unless there was a spell or some fairy dust or something like that involved.
About a week later we were in the Ben Franklin store. To my surprise there was a display filled with them, Hula Hoops. My mother stopped in front of them, too one out of the display, and examined it – the Hula Hoop, not the display. Well, maybe she was examining the display, but I doubt it. My mother was just a mother, not a retailer or advertising rep or reporter of any kind.
She held the hoop in both hands and squeezed it, making an oval out of it. Then she pulled it over her head, held it against her waist and twirled it.
Oh no, I thought, my mother can’t be a witch. She can’t be. But then that would explain a lot of things about her. I always wondered how she knew I wasn’t taking a bath but just splashing water in the tub, or how I was the one who broke the lamp in the living room when I bounced a beach ball too hard off my brother’s head, or when I was all the way upstairs getting ready to put war paint on my brother’s face with the laundry markers and she yelled, “Whatever you’re doing up there stop it and come down stairs.”
She bought a Hula Hoop and I started listening to the things she mumbled as she walked around the house. Until then I thought she was just reminding herself about things she had to do. Now, with a Hula Hoop in the house, I started thinking she was casting spells. Then it happened, two days later, about fifteen minutes after she sent my dad to the store to pick up some milk and a couple other things, I heard her saying to mumbling, “Oh no, I forgot we need eggs, too. Pick up some eggs, too. Please a dozen eggs. A shiver went down my spine when my dad returned and my mom took a dozen eggs out of the bag. It was then that I was sure she was a witch.
While I played catch with myself, bouncing a ball off the garage roof, I would also watch her standing a few feet away trying at different times to get the Hula Hoop to spin around her waist, but she couldn’t. No matter how hard she tried and for how long the hoop would never stay in the air for more than a few seconds. One or two circles around my mother’s waist and it would circle around her legs on its way to the floor.
Then it stopped. She put it in the closet and left it there. I heard her telling a friend on the phone, “Yeah I bought one, but it doesn’t work. I’ll never lose any weight with that thing. I don’t know how they do it, but I give up.”
With relief I said to myself, “It’s witchcraft mom.”
And that’s when I knew my mom wasn’t a witch.