[Hooping.org Columnist Lara Eastburn gives us permission.]
“I make hula hoops for grownups.” That’s been my stock answer for many years to the inevitable American ice-breaker, “So, what do you do?” And it’s been a satisfactory response – not too cryptic, not too revealing. It answers the question. It begs follow up. It’s a potential conversation starter, no doubt. It “works.” But, lately, I’ve been nagged by the feeling that it’s not entirely true.
There’s a difference between the “social” answer – what you say to someone who may not actually care (Sometimes it’s just a way to say “hello,” right?) – and what you say to someone you know is really interested in the answer. Or is there? In principal, I’m a fan of there not being a difference. That way, I get a phenomenal blow-off or a really fascinating conversation. Either way, my evening is off to an interesting start.
But principal aside, my stock answer is admittedly pretty neutral and leaves the ball squarely in the asker’s hands. “Oh, cool. Hula hoops. Looky, is that prosciutto-wrapped shrimp?” Right. No, let’s talk about your importing business instead. Yawn. Another opportunity missed because of my go-to platitude. Who’s fault is that? It’s SO mine.
Lately, I’ve been entertaining the thought that I’m not just giving the wrong answer. What if I don’t actually know the answer? If I met myself at a cocktail party, what would I want my answer to be? Nine years in hooping can blur the route to the truth, the motive, the human element at the root of what started nine years of hooping in the first place. I make hoops, I sell hoops, I run a hooping business, I teach hooping, I write about hooping. But what in the world does any of that mean to someone who doesn’t know what can happen to a person in a hoop?