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Throwing things

Can you keep a secret? Yes? OK. The secret is: Throwing things is fun. Don't get the wrong idea. I don't mean tantrums. And I'm not too sure I mean Jell-o. That makes such a mess for other people to clear up. And usually throwing things that are going to break themselves or a window is not the best way to be popular with grown-ups.

No. I'm talking about all the different skillful, harmless ways people can throw things. Have you ever watched jugglers? Like the Brothers Karamazov? They throw things up in the air and catch them. Lots of things, nearly all at once. Look at their timing and quickness! It's as graceful as a beautifully practiced dance. And basketball players throwing the ball into the basket. Look at the easiness of their movements (when they are good at it) and their accuracy. When you think about it, there is more to throwing things than just ... throwing things.

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Mind you, when I was your age (why are adults so fond of saying ``when I was your age,'' I wonder?) I enjoyed throwing things around for no other reason than the feeling of freedom it gave me. Many of the games my brother and I enjoyed were throwing games of one kind or another.

We are English, and this meant that instead of baseball we learned to play cricket. In this game the ball is ``bowled'' rather than ``pitched.'' It was very serious. But there was a silly, spare-time kind of cricket I liked better that could be played by only two people (instead of two teams). It was known as ``French Cricket.'' In this game you definitely threw the ball - hard and straight at the batsman's legs! We used a tennis ball so it didn't hurt.

The batsman's job was to defend his legs with his bat, at the same time trying to hit the ball as far as possible. While his opponent ``fielded'' it, he scored by counting the number of times he could swing the bat around himself, from one hand to the other, before the ball came flying at his legs again. If it hit him (the rule was: below the knee only), he was ``out'' and the other person became the batsman.

I have no idea if French people play ``French Cricket.'' But I know English kids do. And good throwing is a lot of what it's about.

Maybe you've grown out of throwing things? I haven't. Some things stick around. I love throwing corn and bread for (not at) our ducks, for instance. I like throwing seeds (some people call it ``sowing'') into the soil to grow flowers and vegetables. I think throwing ticker tape from a skyscraper to celebrate returning heroes must be fun. I like throwing rice or confetti at newly married couples. I enjoy throwing ideas in the air to see how other people catch them....

But what about eggs? A friend of mine visited one time. He's a university lecturer in chemistry, so he knows things. He told me that you can throw an egg over a house and it won't break. As long as it doesn't hit something hard like a rock, but just comes down on grass or soil. I kept chickens then, so I gave him an egg to throw over my house. I waited at the receiving end, positive it would smash to smithereens. ``OK?'' he yelled. ``OK!'' I yelled back. And up flew the egg, right over the roof, 40 feet high ... and down it came, down, down ... and when it hit the grass - all it did was bounce a little.

If you don't believe me, maybe you can try for yourself. But make sure no one's in the line of fire.

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I ate my egg boiled in its shell for breakfast next morning. Maybe it should have been ``over easy.''

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