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“Hey Don, when did Mr. Mercury say the yo-yo contest is again?” Dan looked over at his best friend, Don.
“It’s tomorrow, Dan.” Don replied, without breaking eye contact with his yo-yo. Don masterfully cast his yo-yo downward. The yo-yo rolled smoothly on the ground. “I think I finally got it!” Don exclaimed, admiring the perfect angle his yo-yo string created against the concrete pavement outside the school.
“Yeah, yeah. You don’t stand a chance against my Breakaway into a Man On A Flying Trapeze combo into Around the World with Dan’s Dog-a-rific Dog Walk!!!” Dan teased.
“Whatever, Dan. I know the judges will appreciate my quality yo-yo trick craftsmanship. It’s quality over quantity.”
“Quality over qua-blah-blah!!!” Dan took off running.
That night, Don created his very own yo-yo string to be his good luck charm during the competition. He carefully wrapped the threads and placed his yo-yo inside of a Pringles can. He had spent the afternoon meticulously practicing his 60-second routine. Don perfected his four tricks: Rock the Baby, Loop the Loop, Flying Saucer and finally, Walk the Dog. He rehearsed every detail of the tricks, from the angle he threw the yo-yo to the amount of force he used when casting the toy.
“Attention, attention! All 6th grade yo-yo competitors!” Mr. Mercury’s bellowing voice filled the air. All of the sixth graders’ heads turned to the judges’ table.
“THE COMPETITION WILL NOW COMMENCE. DON DADDLE, PLEASE COME TO THE STAGE.”
Don approached the stage– which was actually just a particularly flat area of the field in front of the judges’ table. He took a deep breath before beginning his first trick: Rock the Baby. He gently swung his yo-yo back and forth through the triangle cradle that he had created with the yo-yo string. Then, with a precise force, he flung his yo-yo into Loop the Loop, creating a perfect loop. The yo-yo looped around and around. The judges looked impressed. Don breezed through the Flying Saucer and finally, Walk the Dog with an acute accuracy.
“VERY nice, Mr. Doddle. Next up, Dan Spinelli!”
Dan rushed up to the stage. “Nice job, Doddle! All that practicing pays off!”
“Thanks, Dan. Good luck up there.” Don hurried back to his seat.
Dan then continued to perform a multitude of tricks– but Don couldn’t quite make out exactly what tricks were happening. The transitions were sloppy, but Dan swung the yo-yo around so excitedly that it was hard not to smile watching him.
“And now for my signature move… DAN’S DOG-A-RIFIC DOG WALK!!” Dan shouted out. Dan began beatboxing while his yo-yo “walked” along the floor.
“ARF, ARF! OOYA OOYA! DAN FOR YO-YO PRESIDENT! PEACE!” Dan threw up a peace sign before walking off the stage.
Mr. Mercury smiled and stifled his laughter. “Thank you, Dan. That was really…” Mr. Mercury paused, “exhilarating to watch.”
The whole class continued to watch contestant after contestant. Finally, Mr. Mercury stood up.
“Alright everyone. I would like to announce the winners of this yo-yo contest.”
The silence was deafening. Everyone looked toward Don, knowing the amount of time he spent throughout the week perfecting his tricks on the playground during recess.
“THIRD PLACE, Jenna Meadows, performing four tricks.” Jenna stood up proudly and walked up to Mr. Mercury to receive her ribbon.
“It’s judged on points! Each trick is a point! He should totally win, but Dan did so many more tricks!” someone from the audience whispered loudly.
“EXCUSE ME. No talking please while the winners are being announced,” Mr. Mercury declared. “SECOND PLACE… Don Doddle!” Don smiled and walked up to the stage. “I would like to thank my mom… and my dad…” Don joked and Mr. Mercury smiled.
“Nice job, kiddo. I can tell you spent a lot of time on those tricks.” Mr. Mercury patted Don on the back and handed him the 2nd place ribbon.
“FINALLY… FIRST PLACE… Dan Spinelli, performing a whopping ten and a half tricks! Thank you to everyone for participating!” Mr. Mercury handed the ribbon to Dan, who was cheering for himself as he walked off the stage. Don laughed watching his best friend’s antics as Dan dramatically pinned the ribbon on his shirt.
“Dang it, I wish I had known how this competition was scored! But at least my best pal won first instead of me. Nice job, bro,” Don bumped firsts with Dan. As they walked back to class, Don overhead one of the teachers quietly saying to Mr. Mercury, “next year we have to build quality into our scoring. Write that down!” The teacher glanced over at Don while she spoke. Don smiled and nodded, then continued walking back with his class.