Finding inspiration inside a plastic bag

Anyone who has young kids in their life probably remembers sillybands (or maybe it was “sillybandz” instead). A couple of years ago, it was all the rage with kids and–as all things like this do–it has faded out since then. But a chance encounter with some last night led me to a story I want to share here. That’s why I write this thing, after all.

I was helping my older daughter clean her mess of a room last night, when I found a plastic bag filled with over a hundred of these things. They’re essentially rubber bands, but they’re made into shapes of things like animals, hearts, letters of the alphabet, you name it. The baseball stadium near you probably has some for sale in the gift shop, if what I saw at Fenway Park a few months ago is any indication.

I gave the bag to my eight-year daughter, and she seemed genuinely happy to get them. Anyone who’s skeptical of the difference between the ages of eight and twelve should try having one of each age at the same time. It’s a real eye-opener.

So this morning, my eight-year old had silly bands up and down each forearm. She wanted me to help her take them off and determine what shape each one is supposed to be. I accepted the challenge, and we found dolphins, and Disney princesses (you know they wouldn’t miss this opportunity to make a buck), and some other things, too. But one particular shape befuddled her, and she asked me what it was. I rotated it, pondered for a moment, and realized what it was.

The obituaries for singer Ronnie James Dio helped to bring his career into focus. One of the things he was most known for, aside from his voice, was his introduction of the hand symbol above as a rock and roll idiom. Dio once said that his grandmother used to do that to him as a child to ward off the “evil eye.” He started doing it when he joined Black Sabbath in the late 70s, and the fans picked up on it.

I didn’t get into all of this level of detail with my daughter, but I made the symbol myself and gave her the basics about how people would make this gesture when they were at concerts or listening to the music. She nodded her head in understanding, and asked me if her sillyband was in the shape of  “rock and roll hands.” I had never heard that term before, but I liked it right away and told her yes, that’s exactly what it was.

Most people know about “jazz hands” and how it means shaking your outstretched fingers back and forth in an exaggerated show business manner. I don’t like that term, or that gesture, and if the alternative to that is the “rock and roll hands” that my daughter described, that’s fine with me. And I have to believe that Dio himself would also approve.

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