Spinning Tops

Ephesians 6:10-20

In Balmorhea, Texas, children learn to amuse themselves. In the days before X-Box, Nintendo, or even Atari, kids participated in all the dangerous pastime activities, such as riding bicycles (sans the helmet), skateboards (also free of cranial protection), wrist-rockets with sparrows as targets (sorry PETA), and marbles (shooting “knock-out” with the little ones in order to win the big ones). One favorite pastime for Tom Greenhill and me was spinning tops.

Two houses down from the parsonage there was a cement slab which, at one time, had been a house. The house had been torn down, so only the foundation remained. That hunk of smooth concrete served as a boxing ring, chalkboard, and a venue for world-champeen marbles and tops. Today, it would be suitable for the modern robot-wars.

tops

Spinning tops takes a bit of skill. First, you have to learn to properly wind the string, not too tight, not too loose.  You have to get a good slip-knot in the other end, the finger end.  Mastering a good grip is a bit like pitching in baseball. Different grips get different results when the top is released. Also, the spinner must learn how to spin a top that has been damaged. It was common to knock a chunk of wood out of the top, thus making it less stable in spinning.

I was still mastering baseball and football. My right eye was crossed. Yes, I was cross-eyed. The result was, even with thick, black-framed glasses, I had difficulty with depth-perception, and still do, to some measure. Therefore, I often got hit square in the face with a football or baseball. I was good at spinning tops, though.

A bit of background information is in order.  When I wasn’t in school, my attire was always the same, cut-off blue jean shorts…period. Shirts and shoes were a bother. The path to the concrete slab was fraught with peril and pitfalls.  One route was the caliche road, gravel and rocks. The other route was straight across the grassburrs. But the slab was worth the effort. Shoeless, I would brave the minefield to reach the arena.

On one particular occasion, Tom and I had agreed to meet at the slab for a Top-o-rama. He was in a hurry, as I was navigating the goatheads. Finally, he said, “I’ll give you a piggy-back. Just get on!”  Tom had a weakness for shoes, but I gave in and climbed on. (I’ve often wondered why that mode of transportation was called “piggy-back.” Perhaps a reader can enlighten me in the comments.) Tom carried me over to the slab, and just as we got there, he lost his footing.  I tumbled off at an angle and hit the corner of the concrete head first. Bang!

I got up and was wondering how much damage had been done when Tom’s eyes got really big. “Oh my gosh! Are you okay?” I looked down, and there was a pool of blood on the concrete.  “I guess I need a band-aid!” With blood running down my face, Tom piggy-backed me again through the minefield, and to the next yard. Then chaos. My sister, Pennye, saw the event and ran home in shock. My grandmother, Mammaw, had just arrived for a visit. Pennye was out of breath and trying to tell my mother what happened.  “Wes just cut his head o– (breath), o– (breath)…” Instead of filling in the blanks with “open,” my grandmother decided she was trying to say, “off.” She was distraught.  By the time I got to the house, there was mass hysteria.

Needless to say, I did not cut my head off.  I did cut it open.  My mother got some scissors and cut away the hair around the gash. She washed off the blood and put a criss-cross design with two band-aids, then wiped the rest of the blood from my face.  Within an hour, I was back in action.  For months afterward, I would proudly show the blood-stained slab to my friends, who were in awe that I could have survived such a catastrophe. I still rode my bicycle and skateboard without a helmet, and I have been known to ride my motorcycle the same (although I insist my passengers don’t). Shoes were still years away from being necessary.  I still have a dent on the right front lobe.

In retrospect, protective clothing has become more valuable to me over the years. On many occasions, I have found myself wishing I had taken the extra time to be prepared. Our enemy does not fight fair. It is much easier to have protection and not need it than to need it and not have it. Enjoy the Apostle Paul’s exhortation on the subject, and put on your armor.

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Published in: on August 15, 2017 at 9:42 am  Leave a Comment  

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