Zim Zam – Central Wisconsin News

My wife, Kim is celebrating her 49th birthday on Friday. If you see her, be sure to wish her a happy birthday.

Given that I will be busy covering graduation ceremonies and coming back to the office to put together the annual graduation salute section that will run in next week’s paper, I gave her her present early.

I bought her a Zim Zam. Well, I would have bought her one had the company still been making them. Instead I bought her a want-to-be Zim Zam from a knock-off brand, albeit one that had numerous five-star ratings.

For those born after 1990, I feel the need to explain what a Zim Zam is and why it is a super cool present for a Gen-xer Desperately clinging to her 40s. Zim Zam was a particular brand of tether ball game that was popular in the 1980s but instead of a rubber ball, it had a tennis ball on the string that was attached to a central pole. The players stand on opposite sides from each other and use special paddles to whack the ball back and forth.

For those unable to scrounge up someone to play with, you can also have hours of enjoyment working out aggression by thwacking the ball back and forth. Reviews, and the marketing material on the box expound on its benefits of improving hand-eye coordination and how it can help your tennis game.

I believe just about every home in the 1980s had a Zim Zam. At those times, when parents considered the possibility of permanent scarring and injury and character building, the metal pole would have a sharp and pointy end. Ostensibly, this was to make it easier to drive into the ground.

It also allowed the “toy” to double as a pretty intimidating weapon in the case the neighborhood bully came around to harass a younger sibling. According to my wife, her sister Kris did this on more than one occasion.

In all honesty, getting Kim a knock-off Zim Zam was not my first choice of birthday presents. It wasn’t even my 14th choice. In fact it wasn’t on my radar at all.

I would not have considered it except for my wife dropping subtle and not so subtle hints about wanting one for the past few months.

On the plus side, I never had to worry about opening a picture on my phone from my wife with other people around because it was more often than not a link to a place that sold Zim Zam style games or pictures of said games.

After explaining to my children what this weird contraption is, they started to pick up on the increasingly obvious hints about how much Kim wanted a Zim Zam.

I blame my son, Alex for this renewed interest in tennis tetherball. Alex is on the tennis team and while he is a better curler than tennis player, he has improved greatly over the past year and most importantly been active and having fun learning a lifelong sport.

Kim comes from a family of tennis lovers. With little prompting she will talk about how her entire family would gather to watch major tournaments really getting into the games. I will admit that no matter how much I try, tennis has about the same level of incomprehensibility to me as the sport of Cricket does. I am much more of a badminton person myself, probably due to the many hours me and my siblings spent playing against each other all summer long. My Mom had a simple rule in the summertime, if the sun was shining you were not allowed in the house.

The thing is that knock-off Zim Zams are not that easy to find. At least not ones of any quality, so I ordered one about a month ago and it finally arrived Monday. My fear was that she would have ordered one herself in the meantime.

On Monday night she opened the box when I got home after 9 pm and proceeded to put it together and go outside in the near Darkness and challenge my children to games. There was much laughter.

I think I did good. That said, I will just casually mention that my 50th birthday is coming up in November and those all-electric F-150 Lightnings are pretty spiffy and would be so practical for someone like me who has a 1 mile commute to work each day. Just saying, in case anyone might need to know.

Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.

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