When we were young

I recently made a visit to Cost U Less to stock up on cat food. What with the three resident moggies and the semi-strays who know a meal ticket when they see one, we have gone way beyond the easily handled and stored box of dry food.

We now seek out large multi-pound sacks of Meow Mix that only Of Mice and Men’s Lennie might have thrown around with ease.

Down to the last scrapings at the house and having nightmares about being eaten alive by a pack of shorthairs, I had to go and replenish the stock.

Now of course once I wandered in the doors I couldn’t simply head straight to the pet section.

I had to walk the aisles, dazzled by packs of 50 pens and large bricks of “AA” batteries that would keep all the remote controls in the house ablaze well into the 22nd Century.

Mental calculations began as I considered the space in my cart divided by the items I was tempted to purchase.

I grabbed that barrel of UTZ Cheese Balls that I have never seen in anyone’s house but my own, muttered something about a party to nearby shoppers and sped off, only to be distracted by a fetching set of hula hoops.

I hadn’t hula-hooped since I was a slim-hipped child. They were colourful, inexpensive, and possibly an excellent exercise alternative. I HAD to purchase.

Hula Hoop and enough Cheese Balls to stuff a Brontosaurus – this was going well.

It was tough to squeeze in two 25lb bags of Meow Mix, but I managed.

I’m here to tell you that nothing attracts lingering stares from other humans like a shopping cart filled with only cat food, a hula hoop and a keg o’ cheesy goodness. Scavenger hunt. Honest.

Into my (thankfully) large SUV they all went and I spirited them home, eager to relive my youth with that plastic rainbow circle.

The sacks of cat food hit the front porch and the contents were quickly distributed before the mewling charges began eyeing my tootsies.

The Cheese Balls were given pride of place on the dining room table, and then it was time to hula!

Ripping the price tag off it as I headed to the front door, I yelled for my best friend and flatmate Lynne to come and witness the wonder.

Visions of Cirque du Soleil ran through my head as I assumed the position on the walkway, making sure that no obstacles were close enough to interrupt the magic once I got going.

Lynne stood on the porch looking doubtful with her arms folded. “Right, let’s see you then” she said with an air of cynicism.

“Watch this!” I cried as I wound it up to the right and threw some elbow into it to set it in motion. I barely had time to crank my hips before it went down past the thighs and knees to land on my heel. Ow.

Hmmm…it had been a while, probably just a matter of honing my technique.

Surely it would be like riding a bike – a few tries and I’d be off.

Well apparently not.

Beads of sweat formed on my forehead as I tried and tried again, jerking madly like a spinning top in the last throes of life with Lynne dissolving into fits of laughter.

My arms were thrown out before me as time after time the hoop gave up the ghost and gravity took over.

This was exercise all right, but not in the manner I had envisioned. 10 attempts later I was exhausted.

How had I ever managed this in the past?

Surely this hoop was faulty – it couldn’t be me!

Why I remember when I was in a competition as a child where she who could hula hoop the longest would win a prize.

My mother actually tried to bribe me with money to stop early because it was dragging out for so long.

I was such an advanced hooper that I was able to keep that thing motoring around my waist whilst politely refusing her kind offer.

In the end I lost and so ended up empty-handed, but I had my morality. Small consolation when you’re eight years old.

As I stuck my newly acquired hula hoop in the closet it occurred to me that there are so many things we could do as children that we simply can’t do now – or not easily.

I doubt I’d try a handstand unless surrounded by mattresses, and a cartwheel would probably put me in the hospital.

I used to be able to pull myself out of the swimming pool with or without the ladder.

Ha! I was a monkey on the monkey bars, thanks to a combination of strong little arms and a smaller lighter body.

That athletic gift has obviously left me, as when I last tried to swing on the Jolly Roger rope over the sea my arms couldn’t hold on for long. I dropped like a stone into the drink the minute the rope went vertical.

Cuts and bruises heal faster when you’re younger – probably for good reason considering the above.

Wow…there was a time I could hang from a branch and swing my legs up to perch upon it. Looking at my pathetic attempts on an inflatable obstacle course a few years ago, those days of flexibility are gone.

As I contemplated all of this, I opened the tureen of Cheese Balls and chewed thoughtfully on a couple of them, bemoaning my age.

Then I put a few more in my mouth…and more…and more…‘til I looked like an orange chipmunk. “ ‘EY! ‘YNNE!” I yelled – “ ‘OOKA ‘IS!” Turns out there ARE certain talents that never leave us, no matter what age we reach.

And the great thing about getting older is that we can buy vats of Cheese Balls with our own money.

We don’t need bribes from Mum.