by Ed Thompson
I’m often asked, “Why do you make that annoying twitch whenever a bird flies by?” With a nervous jerk I whisper, “boomerangs .”
It all began when I bought my son, Matt, an authentic hand-carved Australian boomerang for his ninth birthday.
It was a sleek piece of wood finely fashioned from the root of a Black Wattle tree from the Arrernte tribe in northern Australia. Either that, or a Walmart plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Matt looked over the crescent-moon shaped piece of painted wood and said, “Why’d you get me a stick?” I could sense his veiled excitement, however, so I grabbed him by the hand and marched him to the nearest park.
“I’m very honored to teach you the ancient art of boomeranging,” I began. “Simple pieces of wood like this have been used for sport or as a weapon for over 10,000 years. I could tell Matt was impressed with my boomerang knowledge by the way he rolled his eyes.
Arriving at the park, we were pleased to see we had the large open field all to ourselves. As we walked to the middle, I provided a succinct overview of the proper boomerang throwing technique. As it was Matt’s birthday, however, I graciously allowed him to be the first to try it out. This gave me the opportunity to stand by and offer constructive criticism in the form of a play-by-play announcer.
“And once again the boomerang leaves the child’s stubby fingers only to be retrieved a mere 25 feet from it’s starting point without any hint of “boomer-ranging” whatsoever to the dismay of the watching crowd.”
We were bonding.
Finally, after several failed attempts and with a severe look of annoyance, he shoved it at me and said, “Here! You do it.”
I seized the boomerang with the confidence of a tribal Aborigine and slowly ran my thumb over the edges. “The secret of handling this ancient weapon,” I began, “is all in the wrist.” Matt yawned to show his interest.
I asked him to step back a few feet and wound up like a multi-million dollar relief pitcher. Despite tearing several ligaments in my shoulder, I made a major league toss worthy of the Hall of Fame.
The boomerang made vapor trails as it rocketed six feet off the ground directly at a shiny new BMW in the parking lot. My skin turned clammy as I watched in dismay. Matt, however, was suddenly extremely interested.
Inches before impact, it took a dramatic 90 degree turn and then an impressive arch as it soared into the sky. With large drops of sweat pouring off my face, I looked at Matt and said, “Bet you thought it was going to hit that car didn’t you”. I let out a nervous laugh to help Matt relieve some tension.
Upon reaching the apex of its climb, the boomerang began a long, arching descent. Our mouths dropped open in disbelief as it made its wide turn. It was beautiful.
It then occurred to me the boomerang was, in fact, working. It was coming right back at us. At any moment we would hear the sonic boom as it made its rapid plunge. That’s when it also occurred to me that this piece of wood is considered a weapon and, at this rate of speed, could quite possibly decapitate a moose.
In response to these observations, I made the tactical decision to scream like a little girl. I hit the deck as it zoomed past me blowing dirt in my face. To my horror, however, I heard Matt excitedly yell, “I got it,” which, unfortunately, he did.
I turned just in time to see Matt use his forehead to stop the boomerang–a fraction of an inch above his right eye. The impact knocked him to the ground and made my knees buckle as a large bloody gash erupted.
Matt’s ensuing wail was drowned out only by my own.
Later, in the emergency room, the plastic surgeon masterfully repaired the nasty gash in Matt’s eyebrow and forehead. The doctor was even brave enough to talk with the seething woman in the waiting room. He assured her that her husband’s lack of Aboriginal skills would not result in any permanent damage or even a scar in our son’s forehead.
I, on the other hand, developed a rather irritating little twitch…