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Last Update: 01-12-2012
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January 8, 1958

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Bumblepuppy



Bumblepuppy was described by E. M. Forster as a game in which tennis balls are lazily hit into the air in order to more or less strike a Mrs Honeycutt. Some did and some didn't; however it made little difference, as the players weren't really trying and Mrs. Honeycutt was bored. Huxley referred to the sport fleetingly several years later in his "Brave New World." Oxford Unabridged describes Bumblepuppy as a poorly played game of whist, but then you know how the Oxford viewpoint is. There have been many times in the past century and a half when Bumblepuppyism has popped up in the literature of the Western world. It has always been a nebulous thing, sometimes treated contemptuously and snidely, but at others with a sort of respect, as though in the very slippery nature of the beast there lurked a hint of disrespect for the existing order of things in this best of all possible worlds. Its Origins Students of Bumblepuppyism have never agreed as to the actual origins of the game, but they are all certain that the seeds must have been sown shortly after Early Man lost his vestigial gill-covers and formed the first bowling team, and the institution of back-slapping became a major tenet of a philosophy of life. The dark corridors of time are strewn with the whitened bones of forgotten Bumblepuppy players who pursued their lonely sport unsung and unrecorded. Bumblepuppy has taken many forms over the ages, and it is significant that nowhere can be found a precise statement of rules nor even a clear description of the phenomenon itself. Some evidence exists that most of the players were not even aware of their participation in the fugitive sport. It remained for the twentieth century and the advent of "togetherness" and numerous other assaults upon individualism to signal the actual flushing out into the open of Le Grande Sports. The times call for strong measures. Some weeks ago a couple of students at the University of Connecticut felt the primeval urge come upon them to form a team. However, as is the case with many team-formers, they couldn't decide upon an objective for the team activity other than "teamism" itself. Everyone knows the soothing warm feeling of simply belonging; belonging to anything as long as there is an organization and it pens enfolding arms to the footsore wanderer in outer darkness. And as anyone can tell you, it is mighty cold out there in Outer Darkness in this day of "togetherness." Moreover, they felt that forming a team, with the resultant meetings, wrangling over ground rules, setting up of schedules, appointing uniform committees, and all the hoopla and red tape of getting going, would be reason enough for creating a team. This is the true spirit of Bumblepuppyism, were the object of a team is to merely be a team. Even the names of the team positions (and what value is there in an organization if there are no lovely sounding appointed titles?) are enough to make the old pulse pound with a desire to join. Left and Right Bumble, Center Centrifugal, Alternate Center Centrifugal, Doppler-Data Digitizer, Left and Right Scoffers, among others. I have suggested another position, that of Trailing Iconoclast, but the Rules Committee hasn't as yet settled upon the date of their first meeting, so that suggestion is still hanging fire, in the true spirit of pure Bumblepuppyism. There is talk that a secondary organization is needed to include the women and children. These will be known as Jeer Leaders. Already there are over 150 teams in existence in as many secondary schools and colleges all over the country. Everywhere people who have never made a single team in their lives are being carried about the campus on the shoulders of wildly applauding fellow Bumbles. The game itself is a true outgrowth of our times. It is the first game on record that plays the players, instead of the other way around. A large chrome-plated machine is required, IBM, so We Can Be Sure, has been commissioned to create the pilot model for the first game. The machine indiscriminately hurls balls in several decorator shades at the players of both teams, who are then required to duck. Points are scored for the opposition whenever a player is struck by a ball. Hence the only talent required in order to be a winner is the ability to get out of the way. It is easy to see how such a talent developed early in life can only lead to success in later years when the ex-player enters the structure of corporate life. It is well known that today the team is far more important than what the team produces, and in the long run is more fun if it produces nothing more important that red tape and a few titles. Form Your Own Actually Bumblepuppyism is rampant everywhere under other names. For example, we have a Great Team in Washington, but no Sputnik. Well, no matter. You too can form your own Bumblepuppy Team and get in on the fun. Appoint committees, design uniforms, set up rules, even name a czar who will oversee playing if you ever get around to playing; make announcements, have high-level conferences, award medals to outstanding retiring Bumbles. Try it, you'll find it fun, and everybody's doing it.


Copyright: 1958, The Village Voice

Links to Further Information:
4259 (19580108C)