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John Eggers: Have you lost your marbles?

For Mother’s Day I gave my wife something that was a total surprise. I gave her a can of Spam.

When was the last time you ate Spam? It’s been about 45 years since I used the metal key that originally came with the can and turned it to reveal a nice chuck of already cooked pink meat.

I think my wife may have thought I had lost my marbles, which wouldn’t have been the first time someone thought that of me. “I mean, a can of Spam for a Mother’s Day gift, come on John.”

During a children’s service at church I had an unusually large number of kids so I lined them up in the aisles and to the tune of “I Wonder Why” sung by that great Lutheran choir – the Chiffons, I had the kids hold on to each other’s shoulders and do high kicks as if they were on a Broadway stage. Yes, I think the congregation might have thought I lost a few marbles—not all, just a few. Don’t ask me how I tied that to a Bible lesson but I did.

Then there was that time I was giving a presentation in Wisconsin to a large group of teachers and I brought along my Sears lawn mower to help me get their attention. This old beat up mower had the distinction of starting on the first pull every time. No matter how much I abused it, no matter how much I avoided putting oil in it, the mower never failed me and it never failed me on that day.

I gave it one pull and it roared into action. The teachers were impressed but the exhaust fumes made the front row people cough and sneeze so I quickly shut it down.

Yes, I think a few teachers felt I had lost my marbles. Don’t ask me how I tied the fuming mower to my message about teaching but I did.

Not too long ago I did a Pecha Kucha presentation about how ice fishing could be the next extreme sport. I warned the audience that if they did go ice fishing they should be aware of the ice wolves. The mean creatures would come out of any opening in the ice and devour any thing they could sink their teeth into. However, if you carried tomatoes you had nothing to worry about. For some inexplicable reason, ice wolves didn’t want anything to do with tomatoes.

No doubt some listeners thought I had lost a few marbles by making the preposterous suggestion that animals could come out of ice holes and eat you up. Don’t ask me how I wove ice wolves into our next extreme sport—ice fishing—but I did.

Ever since giving that can of Spam to my wife I have been thinking about the notion of losing one’s marbles. I have come to the conclusion that it’s not such a bad idea. After all, I can’t think of one great idea that didn’t come about if someone had not lost his or her marbles. I believe scientists and educators call this  “thinking outside the box”.

I suppose when Charles Lindbergh said he could fly across the Atlantic non-stop, there were some that said, “I think he’s lost his marbles.”

How about when Thomas Edison thought he could invent some kind of device that would light up a room much better than a candle or kerosene lamp? I’m sure many said, “Ol’ Tommy must have lost his marbles.”

Some people still exist who don’t believe we set foot on the moon. “That JFK must have lost his marbles when he said we would have someone actually walk on the surface of the moon.”

Was Spam in the can attributed to someone who lost his marbles? Ken Daigneau, brother of a Hormel executive, named the product in a 1937 contest and won a $100 prize. I can just hear Ken’s wife, “‘Spam’, I don’t think so. They’ll never buy it. You must be losing your marbles.’”

Spam (Austin, Minn. is Spam Town USA.) is now sold in 41 countries. There are at least 15 different varieties including Spam Jalapeno, Spam Lite, Spam Garlic, Spam Chorizo and Spam Teriyaki. In 2007 the 7 billionth can of Spam was sold. That’s not too bad for someone who probably thought Spam would never catch on.

Which state consumes the most Spam? Hawaiians consume more Spam per person than any other US citizen.

I would encourage each of you to go ahead and lose your marbles now and then. It really is a healthy thing to do.

If people laugh at you, poke fun of you, or call you a crazy loon, just walk away. If you think about throwing a can of Spam at them, don’t. Mix Spam with some scrambled eggs, you’ll love it. Invite them over to dine with you. No, I haven’t lost my marbles.

JOHN R. EGGERS of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.