Tag Archives: pogo stick

Pogo sticks are lame

When I was a little kid, I wanted a pogo stick so bad, bad enough that one year I got one for Christmas. I can’t describe to you my disappointment when I finally stepped on to jump up and down. In my little kid head, I imagined it to be like this magic bouncing stick, that all I would have to do was hold on as this tool took me on a wild up and down bouncy bounce ride.

pogo stick

But pogo sticks aren’t really bouncy. They’re springy. It takes a lot of muscle and weight to slam that thing down hard enough on the ground so that it’ll launch you even an inch or two upward. I think if I had to blame someone for my misconception, yes, I’ll take part of the blame, but there was also this popular toy when I was in first or second grade, the Pogo Ball, that I feel deserves most of the credit for leading me to put any hope of fun into a boring pogo stick.

The Pogo Ball was essentially a volleyball sized thick rubber ball with a little circular platform wrapped around the middle. Imagine what the planet Saturn looks like, and that’s basically the shape of the Pogo Ball. I had one of those as a little kid, and while I didn’t really have the motor skills necessary to actually bounce around, that was the idea behind this toy. All of the commercials showcased kids my age flying around town, dramatic leap after ridiculous bounce.

I couldn’t get it right, and so I assumed that it was because the Pogo Ball was a poor man’s pogo stick. All I needed were handles, and I’d be able pogo with the best of them. But that Christmas morning, one look at the pogo stick had me realizing that I’d been fooling myself all along. The dead giveaway was the solid bottom, the fist shaped piece of hard black rubber on which ground would meet stick.

How was this thing supposed to bounce? I’d been picturing some sort of an ultra bouncy inflatable ball, or maybe something like flubber. And again, those springs, it’s so hard to get that thing to want to go.

A couple of years ago I was at my parents’ house and, for some reason or another, I wound up snooping around the garage. Hanging on the wall was the old pogo stick. I figured, I’ve got the weight now that my ten-year-old self lacked, let’s see if I can’t get this going. And while I did manage to successfully pogo, it wasn’t all that fun. I mean, maybe it would have been fun if I could have made this thing work twenty years ago, but now, I don’t know.

I guess bouncing up and down isn’t as fun as it used to be. I always used to love jumping on trampolines. One of my friends had one when I was high school, and we’d spend hours catapulting ourselves as high as we could, catching each other’s bounces, trying not to break our arms on the sides. But ten years later I remember being at someone’s house, also with a trampoline, and the up and down motion made me instantly uncomfortable. It wasn’t nausea, and it wasn’t a headache, not really. I don’t know how to describe it other than I felt like I was losing control of my eyes, like they were slowly drifting out of orbit, that if I didn’t stop bouncing, they’d roll up to the inside of my head or cross permanently. It was just really disorienting I guess.

And it was the same with my adult pogo stick experience. Sure, I was going up and down, but I couldn’t really stay focused, I kept pogoing in a circle that I couldn’t control. The springs were really, really loud, and the nails-on-a-chalkboard screech only added to that vertigo effect.

I’m still blaming the Pogo Ball. If it wasn’t for that cheap piece of crap, I would have never got it in my head that pogo sticking was something worth wanting to do. Man, I think about a lot of the popular toys from my childhood, all of them stupid pieces of plastic that never really delivered on the advertised experience. Skip-it was basically a wheel attached to your leg by a piece of nylon string. What a piece of junk. It never even stayed on the ground, so the counter never counted anything. Skip-it. They should have called it Don’t-buy-it.

My brain feels like a bunch of cool power tools

Nothing. I can’t think of anything. My brain can’t even get started. Imagine trying to use a chainsaw. You know how you have to pull the string on a chainsaw, and each time you pull it, it’ll make that noise, like, OK, maybe it’s going to start, maybe the whole thing will rev into action, but it doesn’t, it dies right back down, so you try again, and again, and you realize that, maybe it’s not about how hard you’re pulling, maybe it’s more about how fast you’re pulling it. It has to be hard and fast, just the right amount of both. My brain feels just like that chainsaw, but with the handle cut off the rope, so you can’t get a grip. Actually, it feels like there is no rope. And there’s no chain either. And also, it’s totally out of gas.

I’ve never actually used a chainsaw. But it’s one of those things I’ve seen on TV a hundred thousand times. I’m so familiar with the image that I’m almost positive I could pick up a chainsaw and use it and it would be exactly how I imagine it to be, no surprises, nothing separating real life from the scenery I’ve cooked up in my mind.

It’s the same with jackhammers. Every time I pass a bunch of guys doing some construction work I’m always more than a little bit tempted to approach them and be like, “Guys, come on, please, let me use the jackhammer. Come on.” And, if I were working construction, I’d be thrilled. I’d be like, “You got it boss,” and then I’d sit back and take a break. I think that chain sawing, jackhammering, these have got to be like universal humanisms. (Is that a word?) Like I think that anybody could do it.

If I could design my own jackhammer, I’d add some pegs at the bottom for me to put my feet on, both of them, so I’d be standing on the jackhammer as it went to work. Picture a pogo stick going out on a date with a jackhammer, having a few too many drinks, taking things way too fast and having a baby. I’m pretty sure that, given the right environment, like a happy home and a balanced diet, that baby would grow up into the appliance that I’m thinking about in my head. I’d call it either a jackstick or a pogohammer. Not too original, I obviously just switched around the first and last parts of each item, but it’s not about the name here, it’s about the tool, and how cool it would be, how much more fun it would be to operate than your traditional jackhammer.

And I don’t want to get stuck on this here, but we’d see a surge in construction activity, because so many more people would want to use this awesome new tool. More construction workers, more construction projects, a more vibrant economy, more people enjoying what they do for a living. I think that Western society as a whole would be much better off, much more satisfied. And what if you make the bottom part detachable, so when you’re at work it’s a chisel, for breaking rocks and cement, but then at the end of the day can replace it with something soft, something bouncy, and so it would keep the pogo aspect of the hybrid alive also. These construction guys could own their own pogohammers, they’d ride them to work, use them at work, and them pogo home. Fun, environmentally friendly, a whole range of possibilities here.

And so I’m thinking, what other sorts of appliances or power tools can we maybe merge with other more common items? I started with a chainsaw. What if, instead of a chain, for cutting, you could swap in like a comb, for brushing? A combsaw. And this way you could brush your hair in a fraction of the time. Although, we might have to figure out something about the gas engine. I can’t imagine people wanting to breathe in all of that exhaust, like in their bathrooms or bedrooms.

No, let’s go back to the jackhammers. Maybe we could put a wheel on the bottom. And so it would be like one third jackhammer, or not one third … hold on … it would be one half jackhammer, then one quarter pogo stick and one quarter Segway. Do you need a license to operate a jackhammer? I hope not. Although it probably depends on local laws, permits, regulations. Could we change that? Does anybody know anybody on the City Council? What do you think the chances are that we could fix it, make it easier for your average everyman to own and operate a pogohamway?