This past year, gift wise, I got the Christmas I should have had when I was twelve: a pogo stick, and a guitar.
I am fifty-six years old.
The guitar has gotten little use as yet – I am awaiting getting a friend to get it tuned properly, and the book/CD set I ordered on ‘how to teach yourself to play the guitar’ turns out to no longer be available.
The pogo stick, on the other hand, has become my sticking-with-it-in-spades workout regimen.
And pogoing has turned into a real head turner in my New Orleans neighborhood.
Full disclosure: the SuperPogo 2 that my wife and son got me for Christmas is the first pogo stick I have ever owned – only the second, maybe third I have ever been one; this is NOT Citizen Lucker’s ‘Rosebud’.
I have just always wanted a pogo stick.
When I first started out, I figured it would take me a while to get the balance part down, but figured since I still ride a bike from time to time, there should be nothing vertigo-inducing – so far, so good on that count. I also figured that since I was going to feature pogoing (pogo sticking? pogo-stick-jumping seems redundant, but I can find no grammatical consensus, so I stick with pogoing) I was going to have to work into getting my legs – specifically hamstrings, calves and knees – back into more functional order.
I never considered my thighs to be the most pogo-abused part of my anatomy.
For the most part, no issues with the legs themselves. Being a teacher, and spending all day on my feet in front of a classroom, I think is a huge plus in that area. But the thighs – oh man. As my workouts have intensified in length and rigor, the old upper legs have had to get up to speed.
On the plus side, the old gluteous has fared pretty well. Aside from one big spill on day two, and one a few weeks later, I have mostly avoided major spills. In fact, the clean, land-on-feet dismount was the first thing I mastered. Though I have yet to get anything above a 6.1 from the East German judges.
Oh, and I have discovered that pogo is great DIY-chiro: after a stressful day in class, nothing loosens up the neck, shoulders and lower back better. Who knew?
Sitting here on the verge of February, I have stuck with this exercise regimen farther into the new year than any other attempt I can remember. In fact, I think I have developed a bit of an addiction. There are times at school where I have made note of how long it was til the end of the day, and mentally started plotting out in my head the schedule for picking my son p at school, getting home…and should I start dinner, then go pogo, or pogo and then start dinner.
I am hooked. And getting much better – regularly stringing together sixty, and seventy pogo sequences. I can break a good sweat and get the old ticker rate up there with a solid fifteen minute workout. Which brings me to that ‘head turning’ bit I mentioned earlier.
By the time we get home, and I get changed and get out to the street in front of my house, it is usually around four-thirty in the afternoon. We live on a nice residential street that doesn’t see a ton of traffic – until my neighbors start arriving home from work. There have been some rather, eh, interesting encounters to date.
One afternoon, just as I got started, our thirtyish neighbor arrived home with her daughter. They are always friendly, she waved ‘hi’ and hollered from a house away, “So – you got a new toy?”
“Always wanted one. First workout regimen I’ve stuck with this far into the new year!”
She nodded. “My father loves to pogo. My cousin got a pogo stick for Christmas and my father basically stole it from him. You can’t get him off the thing.”
“If I may ask, how old is your father?”
“Oh, I want to say…sixty six.”
“He’s got ten years on me!” Catching my breath, I added, “If I do say, your father is a great man!”
She laughed. Her kindergartenish daughter looked perplexed. They waved, went inside. I went back to work.
A week or so later, I had a rather intense, broke-a-decent-sweat, multicultural twenty minutes of neighborly encounters.
Well, fifteen or so, anyway. I must have killed five minutes chatting with…
A white guy in his late twenties, maybe thirty, named Ben who had been jogging through the neighborhood stopped by on his third lap, said “hey, man – that is cool. Is that one of those that they do backflips and stuff with?” I laughed and said, “No, I don’t think so. This is one of the stripped down, basic models.”
Admiringly he said, “It’s cool. Do you have a record set yet?”
“I’ve always wanted a pogo stick, so for Christmas, my wife and son sprung for one.” You want to give it a try?”
He did, and ripped off a couple of fairly high five-pogo runs, then handed me the stick. “Nice workout plan.” We exchanged pleasantries about where I really feel the burn (the thighs more than hamstrings thing he found of interest. Fellow health nut) he said “Oh, I get that. Thanks again!” I asked him if he lived in the area and he told me that he was ‘staying with his parents, up the street’ for a while.
As Ben started to jog away, our Hispanic, twenty-something, neighbors drove up, started getting stuff out of their car. The husband says “Hey, Friday afternoon workout! Great!” and gives me a big thumbs up.
Then our mail carrier, great guy, African-American, early sixties, drives up, delivers to the house across the street, then starts walking to the next house, stops. He looks at me, peers over the top of his glasses and dryly offers my favorite pogo observation to date: “The minute I see YOU on one of those hoverboards . . . I’m HEADIN’ for the hills!”
Building middle-aged street cred, I am.
What I didn’t think about until long after y workout was young Ben returning to his parent’s house, and what the conversation might have been like:
MOM: “Hi, Ben. How was your jog?”
BEN: ‘Oh, nice. I met a new old kid down the street who let me try out his new pogo stick!”
MOM: “Oh. Well that’s, um….nice? I guess, dear….?”
Five bucks says there was some variation on that conversation at Ben’s temporary domicile.
But my favorite encounter (from afar) was just this past week. I have gotten pretty consistent, and have also begun actually pogoing in the direction I wish to go, instead of just random hopping around. This past week, I was out on the stick, pogoing toward the end of our block. The cross street, Filmore Avenue, is fairly busy, and also has a lot of pedestrian traffic. As I am boing-boing-boinging up the block, I catch a glimpse of a boy, seven, maybe eight, from a local elementary school (recognized the uniform) with a backpack that was at least the size of his diminutive torso. He was running at a fast clip, eager to get home, when he caught a glimpse of me bounding his way…
About two strides into the street, he slows, but his overloaded backpack weighs him down, forcing him into a bit of a crouch, and he slowly covers the rest of the street bent-over, looking like some demented, walking upright turtle, until he reaches the opposite curb, which he almost stumbles over. He then straightens up, keeps on walking out of my line of vision, headed for home, probably with a story to tell HIS mom.
I’m just waiting for the day when I am not out there, and someone comes to our door and asks “Can the pogo stick guy come out and play?” If that does not happen before April first, I’ll owe my wife twenty-bucks.
This one may take a little more time.