Back in the dark ages of the Eisenhower administration, the newly affluent popular culture was introduced to fads: coonskin caps, hula hoops and joy buzzers. Remember joy buzzers? The comedy of cruelty on the playground.
For those of you who were fortunate to miss out on this cultural trend, a joy buzzer was a small spring device that you wore on the inside of your hand. When you shook hands with some sucker, a small stud was depressed, unwinding the spring that was the “buzzer” of its name. “Wow! Watch ‘em jump. Fun for all.” Well, maybe not so much joy for the sucker.
Never were so many handshakes proffered or refused. “Show me your hand,” was the common cry. We all sounded like Las Vegas poker dealers in training.
When you have been “buzzed” a few times, it doesn’t take long to get suspicious when someone is offering a hand. If you are a long-term Boston Red Sox fan, you approach every season with the expectation of being “buzzed” at some point and watching your trust in baseball nature head down the drain one more time.
For most of the last century, the Sox would extend their hand at the beginning of the season, and most of New England, knowing full well what was to come, would still extend theirs, face scrunched, shoulders hunched, waiting for the shock that was sure to come.
When the century turned over, though, something happened. The buzzer was gone. People clasped hands with no fear, exulting in the latest journey to the post-season and enduring duck boat parades with barely a whimper.
Last season, the bad old times seemed to return. Boston finished the shortened season last — behind Baltimore. Baltimore!
But now, the new age seems to be back with us. The Sox have risen from last to still standing, and though I am no fan of post-seasons, I have been carried along with this run like the rest of New England.
Are you a Sox fan? Let’s shake on it.
Millerton resident Theodore Kneeland is a former teacher and coach — and athlete.