ah... the boom. i remember it fondly. especially since i was not personally invested in yo-yoing at all, and just one among millions of spineless hookworms to latch on to the fad with both mouthparts as it rocketed through the late 90's. i bought this yo-yo in the summer before my junior year at boston college. i was a ymca day camp counselor, and EVERY kid at camp had a yo-yo (fireballs were standard-issue. if you had a stinger, you were cool. if you had a team losi, you were sort of edgy. if you had a raider, you were a legend, and automatically beloved. if you had a duncan, someone might try to give you an old pair of shoes, cause they assumed you were poor as hell).
there were hundreds of plastic yo-yo's being lost at camp, and i could have ganked any of them through nefarious counselor-means, but i thought it might look bad to get called on that. plus most campers were bright enough to scratch their initials on the inside wall like a cowboy might with his saddle. the heavy-handed went through 5-packs of yomega string like lightning, as their sloppy, jagged carving would burn through type 8 cotton in a trice.
so, i bought one at zany brainy. i paid $14.95. it was easily the most i had ever considered paying for a yo-yo. (although i had been gifted with a brain (laugh all you want) in 1987 by my dad following a trip to fall river, mass., i had traded that yo-yo almost immediately for a duncan midnight special with shiny silver stars.) i chose purple, not because it was most fetching (green was), but because no camp kids had purple. like little north carolinian bloods and crips, they stuck to red and blue, and the unproveable rumor that reds spun longer, but blues looped better was widely bandied about the park.
some of the kids (and all of the counselors) found it ridiculous and juvenile for me to participate in the trend, but i didn't care. yo-yoing was fun, portable, and it really didn't matter how good you were. it was like an instant-tribe. if you were yo-yoing around town, you WOULD see another yo-yoer. they might be anywhere between the ages of 6 and 30, but it didn't matter. those days were replete with knowing glances and nods; as though we were all caretakers of a secret that just happened to be everywhere.
anyway, summer ended, i went back to boston, and still yo-yoed all the time. i probably knew 20 tricks, none of which had been learned online. i also had a purple brain to match my fireball, but i thought clutches were lame, so it was "disabled". the fireball was in my black silent-bob trenchcoat pocket virtually the whole year. at the end of it, i was VERY good... at all 20 of the aforementioned tricks.
my best, most indelible memory of it is during a history study group session. everyone had to take history to fulfill their core. it had nothing to do with my dual majors of elementary ed. and music composition, so i didn't care about it in the least. i went to lectures sometimes, and mainly drew cartoons or read comics (it was during this semester that i fell in love with stan sakai's usagi yojimbo). during "study group" (and i use the term loosely), i would either work on austere, semi-tonal compositions that i silently dreamt would someday be masterpieces... or i'd yo-yo (i was THAT obnoxious).
anyway, on this day we were discussing the warsaw jewish rebellion against the germans of 1943, but really, the only word that pertains to this story is "rebellion". it could have been any rebellion, because the most annoying, wanted-to-make-sweet-whoopee-with-his-own-voice idiot in the section (maybe in any section - ever) LOVED to say the word "rebellion". only, he pronounced it "webellion". his name was fred, although i'm just assuming there because when he referred to himself (and he did so often), it was as "fwed". he had previously picked a fight with my friend hilary "the guy" taylor, but he had conveniently transformed into "cuddly-drunk" before it had actually come to blows.
anyway, we came to some question and fwed started pontificating about how it would have been in the germans' interests to have "squashed" the rebellion quickly and quietly so as to prevent other uprisings. i found his diction (here having the meaning of "word-choice") hilarious, as well as his diction (here having the meaning of pronunciation). i was pretty sure every other person in that group had heard the phrase "to quash rebellion", and there were a few raised eyebrows when he said "squash" again. i was irritated (probably just because i didn't like fwed), so i said something like "well, i'm sure they intended to QUASH it quietly. i'm sure they would have preferred history students not be reading about it 50 years later." his rebuttal was immediate: "but they DIDN'T squash it, ed. the webellion wasn't squashed at all, because the jews achieved their obective and died fweely!"
at this point i took out my fireball and started doing some inside loops.
fwed continued. "and that's the thing about webellions, people. they have to be squashed. if they aren't squashed, the wegime's pwoblems will multipwy."
i looped faster.
"i think we should bwing this up with the big cwass. it wepwesents an important point. the germans' failure to squash-"
my string snapped. the yo-yo sailed across the room, landing with a thud on a desk before rocketing back toward me due to the backspin. i ignored it.
"QUASH!" i yelled. "the word is QUASH, fwed! "squash" is a vegetable, or something done to mushrooms in mario. "quash" is what happens to rebellions. you're killing me over here."
"sewiouswy? that's a word? i always heard 'squashed'."
i was so irritated. i remember walking home while doing variations of rock the baby and a trick i called "unhook the stars", which was a terrible movie but remains a great trick name. i pulled out weathered oxford dictionary and looked up the word "squash".
i found something approximating this:
1. To beat, squeeze, or press into a pulp or a flattened mass; crush. See Synonyms at crush.
2. To put down or suppress; quash: squash a revolt.
i am a dumbass. i never apologized. goddamn that fwed anyway.
i am a dumbass. i never apologized. goddamn that fwed anyway.