Hula hoop dreams

When my daughter was little, probably the most common thing she heard me say was, “Hula hoop!”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Either (a) that’s a very odd thing to have your child Hula hoop on command or (b) why?

Hopefully, more of you went than (b) and thus don’t think I simply order my children to do party tricks.

The reason for this command actually has a straightforward origin. I am a big fan of personal space. When my daughter was young, she was not a big fan of personal space. She had no problem standing right next to you. This was especially problematic when we were walking places, and she would begin drifting into my air space. We’d be walking along, and suddenly, we’re shoulder to shoulder and she’s pushing me off of my very straight line.

Now, before you get the idea I am some anti-personal affection father who will send my children to a lifetime of couch sessions because of my inability to hug my children, that’s not the case at all. I just don’t want to be careened into when I’m walking down the grocery aisle.

So, when my daughter would drift, I would say, “Hula hoop!” I told her to pretend she had a Hula hoop around her at all times, and that’s how much personal space she should give. And if she did not heed my warning, I would get her an actual Hula hoop, and that would certainly not bode well for her social life should classmates see her out in public.

My daughter is 17 now, and I don’t have much occasion to remind her of Hula hoop space limits. I do, on occasion, have to remind her to look up from her phone lest she walk into the kitchen table.

The Hula hoop directive popped up in my brain recently when my son and I went to a restaurant to watch a football game. This place is clearly a destination for Sunday football, as when we walked in wearing our Falcons shirts, the hostess told us where the Falcons game was on and seated us right by a TV. Also, below the TV was a sign that read, “Falcons vs. Bears, 1 p.m.” Kind of a pretty big hint that those in the area would be watching the game.

Side note: There was a group of Eagles fans in the bar. Those dudes are intense. We’ve all heard stories of how rough Philly home crowds can be. I now believe every single one of the stories I have ever heard.

As we we were watching the game, I was amazed at the number of people who consistently ambled by and stopped RIGHT in front of us, all up in our business, oblivious to the fact that they were standing right in front of people who had been seated at a table to specifically watch the TV that really clearly stated it was there for folks watching that game. Naturally, I tapped each on the shoulder and said, “Hula hoop.”

I kid. Rather, my son and I just made angry faces at each other and the occasional grunt or growl, and then loudly shifted our chair so we could see the game and hopefully get the attention of the person. No such luck.

Cluelessness abounded. Each time it was like when my daughter was little. Just come on in and occupy my space and have no compunction about it.

Now I get that places get crowded on game days, and sometimes it gets a little snug. But this was not one of those times. There was ample floor space to not be almost sitting on my lap, blocking my view.

I think the next time we go out to watch a game, should the same thing happen, I will gently tap the person on the shoulder and ask if they might take a step or two to the side to clear the view. Surely most decent people will realize their error and politely step away. Granted, I will probably just let it slide if it’s one of those Eagles fans.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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