I wish I could juggle

I wish I could juggle. But I only ever get the urge to try and juggle when I’m at work and I’m standing next to a big bowl of lemons or limes. I’ve been working in a restaurant since I was fourteen, so there have been plenty of occasions where I’ve found myself standing next to large quantities of fruit. And I’ve tried juggling citruses enough times over the course of my life where I can say that I’ve made some progress. But if I add up all of these little moments here and there I’d still probably only be able to count to maybe a half an hour of cumulative practice. That’s hardly enough to really develop a skill, to really get good at something. What do they say about the time necessary to master something? It’s definitely more than just thirty seconds here and there.

I always get at least two or three consecutive juggles before I completely lose control. The frustrating part is, I know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s tossing one thing up in the air, gently, catching something else, and then tossing another thing from one hand to the other. All of these individual parts are laughably easy. But patched together, the whole juggling thing, I lose it. Whenever I try, for some reason I always wind up lobbing the fruit slightly ahead of me. So I have to reach a little further to catch what I’ve thrown. After the second juggle, I automatically wind up falling forward, walking ahead, and then the throws get bigger, to try and make up for the outward motion, maybe, and I’m definitely losing at least one lime, and then I realize, shit, my boss is probably watching me, or that lemon is getting a little too close to that stack of glasses, and yeah, it never ends well, because, like I said, I can’t juggle.

Going on what I said about the whole falling forward thing, I’ve always had this idea that, maybe I can juggle, but just not standing still, like I have to be walking forward, or even running maybe, to compensate for that slight outward pitch. So the forward motion seems like it would be the perfect correction. Unfortunately, I’ve never tried it. Like I said, I really do wish that I could juggle, but I’m so rarely bombarded by the actual urge to get up and learn how to do it. It’s always at these inopportune times.

Like it’s always when someone else who actually knows how to juggle starts juggling. And they’re just standing there, tossing three things in a perfect circle, and I get so jealous, because they make it look so easy. So I’ll try and I can’t juggle and I’ll break something and, if my boss isn’t around, everybody will start laughing at me, at my clowning around. But I’m not clowning around. I’m seriously trying to juggle. It’s like, I’m watching this person juggle, and I’m staring at them, at how easy it is, and I just lock their motions in my mind, in a loop, like I’m juggling the mental image of this person juggling, over and over again, and I start moving my hands automatically, like I have to be able to do this. And I jump right in and break something.

And maybe my boss was watching. And his natural tendency, being in charge, he wants to come over and tell me to knock it off, especially if I’ve broken something, especially if there’s already broken glass everywhere. But maybe he’s more amused than he’s letting on, like maybe he saw everything, but he knows that if he comes over to try and chastise me, I’m just going to be like, “What! Come on! I swear I can juggle!” like I’ll put on this whole show that’ll only add to his amusement, and so he won’t be able to keep a straight face, and I’ll have busted through his façade of authority. That’s why I’ve never gotten in trouble for tossing around the lemons, dropping all three on the floor, one time I did it with apples, and when they all crashed down they got damaged, bruised, a total waste of produce that we just had to chuck in the trash.

One day I’ll figure it out. Look how much mental energy I’ve spent thinking about juggling just in writing this piece. That’s got to add to the training. Sometimes I think that the more you think about something, the more it’s going to happen. Isn’t that the majority of training for anything? Just getting yourself in the right mindset? And once I know how to juggle, like for real, like being able to juggle without pause, without running forward, being able to do it while holding on a conversation, I think I’ll be able to incorporate juggling into everyday life, into a practical setting. Sometimes at work the boss will be like, “Rob, can you go into the walk-in and restock the lemons?” and I’ll say, “Sure thing boss,” and then I’ll head into the fridge and I try to grab as many as I can in my arms, cradling them, but it’s an awkward position because the lemons are small enough so that I always think I should be able to carry more than I can. But once I learn how to juggle, I’ll just toss them all in the air, seven, eight, nine lemons, and I’ll walk through the restaurant and everybody will be amused, even me, amused and impressed, I did it, I finally learned how to juggle, and they’ll all land perfectly in the lemon bowl, one after the other, and the restaurant will still be busy, so I’m not going to have a chance to really revel in any of the mild applause of my coworkers, and of my boss too, he’ll be clapping gently, or giving me a subtle thumbs up. How could you not love something like that? A nice little fun diversion in an otherwise humdrum routine day.

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