It took me most of my life to learn how to throw a boomerang so it’d come back to me; and I had no sooner mastered the art than my boomerang disappeared. But then the local playgrounds in our town have all disappeared, too.
I don’t know if the boomerang ever matched the national impact of other summer fads, like the hula hoop, yo-yos, cracker balls–and we had local fads for pea shooters, pop rocks, and punks. Mr. Bruno across the street had a heavy wooden boomerang. He’d take it out to the schoolyard now and then and play with it, and all of us kids stood in awe of his expertise: the thing always came back to him. When I finally got a chance to try it–Mr. Bruno wasn’t home, his kids found the boomerang and sneaked it out of the house–it never even thought of coming back to me when I threw it. Heavens, no. The blasted thing sought out the nearest school bus window and crashed right through it. So much for that.
What touches off a fad? It can be something as utterly senseless as pet rocks, or something that takes a fair amount of skill and practice, like learning yo-yo tricks. (I still have my yo-yo. The cats like me to use it.) And then the fad disappears as suddenly and as mysteriously as it first rose up.
Hula hoops are back, though; and a few days ago, the kid across the way was banging cracker balls off the sidewalk.