Editor’s Desk: Skipping Rope

POSTED June 20, 2024 IN

Photo courtesy of Betty DeLa and Simroots Magazine

As I pull up to the curb in an older, middle-class, suburban neighborhood with neatly swept sidewalks and aged trees shading the street, I notice a young man in an electric blue hoodie and black shorts that hang loosely to his knees. His running shoes have an orange stripe circling the soles and he’s fumbling with a cord he’s just pulled from his pocket. I assume he’s going to install some ear buds and soon be in his own “programmed” world of a music mix that he’s designed for his daily run.

As I step out of my car I’m surprised to see that instead of the expected earbuds, he’s untangling a jumping rope. Right there on the sidewalk he starts skipping as the rope whizzes over his head and rhythmically strikes the ground with that thunking sound I remember from my childhood. He’s tall, broad shouldered with dark hair falling down on his forehead. I figure he’s in his late 20s and he’s skipping rope like a young girl.

I’m used to seeing men jumping rope in gangster movies in the inevitable scene in a grungy boxing gym. But out of that context, this moment is a complete surprise to me. A young man, skipping rope, out in a spring day, in a suburban neighborhood, birds singing, flowers blooming on the border of the sidewalk, and trees just beginning to leaf out, is completely unique in my experience.

I’m desperately trying hard not to stare. I’m aching to stand here and let this sight continue to bless me with delight for the next hour or so. Even though I’m longing to prolong this moment, I quickly look away because I know my staring would only cause him to fold up his jump rope in embarrassment and stop skipping.

I’m completely enchanted by this virile, young man. This moment has penetrated the deep recesses of my being and scooped up the childhood memory of skipping rope with my girlfriends.

Chanting, we’d sing:

Cinderella, dressed in yellow
Went upstairs to kiss her fellow
Made a mistake
And kissed a snake
How many doctors
Did it take?

And then we’d go into “fasties” with no skipping just jump, jump, jump until we’d trip on the rope.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5. . . .

I’m giddy with delight at the memory.


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