The Pinky Ball, and why it can save the world

Allow me to introduce you to an old friend: the Hi-Bounce Pinky Ball, or Pinky, as I call him.

For any one of you who was a child at one point in your life, you've probably owned or at least seen one. Made of some sort of half-rubber, half-foam material, Pinky is like a felt-less tennis ball that feels somewhere in between a stress and bouncy ball. He's not too heavy, not too light and bounces like a mother.

Pinky is a highly skilled friend who's good at anything you are, including handball, catch, bouncing, rolling, flying and fighting crime. I once read somewhere that Steve Nash used to dribble a tennis ball around campus at Santa Clara University to improve his handles, so I decided Pinky was going to make me the next star point guard. I consider myself the suburban Allen Iverson of MU —- slashing through students on the way to class and crossing over puddles on the way to the Rec.

Pinky's bounce began to take on a Zen-like quality for me as I dribbled out my thoughts. Why is my T.A. so obsessed with this stupid presentation? (Bounce.) What if journalism isn't what I want to do with my life? (Bounce.) What if I can't keep coming up with ideas for columns to make it through the semester? (Bounce.)

Bounce, bounce, bounce. It was all I could do to avoid letting little Pinky puns and aphorisms dominate my train of thought: “Well, that's just how the ball bounces. Sometimes life takes a bad bounce. I'll bounce back from this.” (Ew.)

But, the more I bounced, the more I forgot about everything else going on. Sure, this midnight-to-2 a.m. meeting is going to be rough, but bouncing Pinky around sure is fun. Yeah, I've got a lot of work to do this weekend, but right now I'm pretending I'm Pistol Pete Maravich slicing up a defense, and that project due next week is not going to stop this behind-the-back, through-the-legs crossover from looking sweet.

Dribbling a little pink ball around campus as a 19-year-old probably doesn't look too normal or grown up. I could be doing homework or checking my Facebook or not driving people crazy with my bouncing everywhere, but I'm not. I'm playing with Pinky, because I'm afraid that no one else is going to, and leaving Pinky alone will be a disaster.

Pinky is the nerdy kid whom everyone ignores, but who eventually ends up becoming that super important doctor or scientist that we all end up depending on. Today, Mark Twain Hall is filled with the sounds of “Call of Duty” machine gun fire while kids sit around and update their Facebook statuses. When the power goes out, a gargantuan groan resounds from the building as if someone just announced that the only television shows to be aired that night were re-runs of “Jersey Shore” and “Glee.”

What are we going to do when all of our kids wake up on a summer Tuesday and don't go outside because they can play video games with their neighborhood friends via Xbox LIVE instead? I don't want my future 10-year-old son to look back on his childhood and remember his “Call of Duty” kill ratio better than that time he broke his arm while climbing a tree.

The thing is, I can't make everyone do what I want. I can't make everyone read this and have a life-altering change of heart. I can't overthrow the social giant that is Facebook, the monster that infiltrated our means of interacting and changed modern socialization as we know it.

But I can play with Pinky, because Pinky feels the same way. And play with Pinky is exactly what I'm going to do.

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