These may be only New Mexico phenomena, cultural crazes that have captivated children in only this region of the country and thus, you may have been spared hearing about them.
For a little over a year, right here in my home town, playground activities of elementary school children have been profoundly altered. Gone are the boys chasing the girls and vice versa. No longer do most children throw balls, swing on swings as high as they can, or even run. The latest craze is to get a bag of Hot Cheetos, open it as you walk out the hall door and step onto the playground, and walk around surrounded by hungry friends who will follow you across the River Styx to get a handful of one of the most diabolical junk foods ever manufactured by man.
Children are very generous. I steal a glance of their candy bar, and they’ll rip off a big chunk with their little boogery, filthy, grimy hands and hold it up and say, “Do you want some?” Then I’ll say, “Sure!!” (This is part of my overall health strategy: to expose myself to a wide variety of germs, thus diminishing my chances of being killed off by them like the Aztecs were when the Spaniards invaded Mexico.) However, expect no such generosity with Hot Cheetos. I’ve tried staring intently at the bag. No luck. I’ve tried the not interested look, like if they were to offer me some, I’d immediately say, “No thanks. I’m dieting.” Hot Cheetos are a valuable currency with children in my hometown, and I don’t think I could get my hands on a single donated strand if I were to use force and intimidation.
In fact, writing this little piece has given me a brilliant idea. I wonder what influence Hot Cheetos could have as incentives? I’ll go buy a few bags this weekend, take them to class, and if all goes as I plan, they’ll be eating out o’ my hands, so to speak, before the first recess. That’s if I can get them to school without eating them up.
The other craze that is very big with the boys is not for the squeamish or the overly mature. This means you, Mr. and Mrs. Grown Up Adult Boring Person. The latest craze is belching while speaking the phrase, “I believe I can fly.” (It is too late to stop reading; I should have warned you sooner.)
I find this latest craze to be fascinating and only wish I had kept up my high school belching skills. I could really have impressed the fourth grade boys in my class because in high school, I studied under Bobby Williams. He was my teacher, my sensei, my sifu, my mentor. It was during my senior year in high school. I had done so well in school that I qualified for an advanced class, Physics. However, that’s where everything fell apart. You see, I have serious issues with my father. I still do, in fact, and by now I am older and should be more mature than he was when he was really pissing me off. You think by now I would have gotten used to the idea that he is my father. It apparently is going to take a lot more counseling or denial or both. Anyway, I digress.
In high school, Bobby Williams was the King of Belching. No one could hold a candle to Bobby’s juicy wet, ear drum ringing, full toned belches. For one thing, he could perform them at will. And they were performances. Bobby would begin by bobbing his head several times in a most peculiar and characteristic fashion. Then Bobby would deliver a most melodramatic pause as he physically readied himself. Then, to everyone’s amazement and disgust, he would present the most astounding belch the human ear has ever heard.
I had the good fortune of becoming his apprentice, his student, if you will. It happened during that Physics class. Now remember, I had the issues with my father, right? Well, my father happened to have a college degree in…………… now try and predict ……………………….…That’s right, ………. it was ……….…. Physics! And he lorded it over me too. “”I have a degree in Physics” he would say, with his little bottom lip sticking out like Barney Fife when Barney would brag to his cousin Andy about his date with Thelma Lou, but my father was not nearly as endearing. Now somewhere in my little high school brain, I unconsciously decided to not learn Physics. Instead, Bobby Williams and I secluded ourselves off from the others by going to the very back physics lab table, and Bobby began tutoring me. I will now, at this time, reveal some secrets of his mystifying talent. It seems the head bobbing was his efforts to open the glottal in the throat, thus allowing air to be sucked into the stomach rather than the lungs. I will compare this discovery of Bobby’s to the invention of alcohol. Distillation does require more science, namely chemistry, than opening the glottal stop, but nevertheless, achieves the same purpose, and that is to override Mother Nature’s defenses. Slowly, over the period of a year, I learned how to deliver a magnificent belch. I hate to brag, but Bobby referred to one of my belches as “………….really a great one. It had great tone, low yet loud, and it was long and extended, yet increased in dynamics instead of jus’ trailin’ off. That was a beauty!” But I digress.
I’m in the classroom eating lunch with four boys, all fourth grade students of mine. Alex, an otherwise quiet, studious, and mature young boy who likes to read and believes that Pierce Brosnan was the best James Bond, though only slightly better than Sean Connery, is sitting next to me and doggedly trying to belch while saying, “I believe I can fly.” He gets to, “I believe I can….” several times but is unable to deliver the final blow. Suddenly, Connor, the Class President (so appropriate, I think) and also a very fine young boy, pulls off the impossible on his first try. Everyone at the boys’ table literally stands up and gives him a standing ovation.
I have two fears. The first is that since I not only tolerated but actually encouraged the whole belching incident, parents will want me fired. I haven’t heard from any attorneys, at least not yet. And my other fear? I have aged; I have become old. My glottal will not stay open long enough to swallow air. My tummy muscles have degenerated into soft, flabby tissue, unable to deliver the force and control necessary to impress the hell out of the boys in the class. Oh well. Some day they’ll run into a Bobby Williams. Someone who can belch and say, “I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky.”