The Magic 8 Ball showed up under the Christmas tree a few years ago. It had as much fun as it could have for the few weeks new toys seem to enjoy of attention, then was forgotten about.
It rolled back onto the scene in full glory this past week.
The Magic 8 Ball is the standard oracle of childhood and the teen-aged years. For all we know, some business decisions are made by it as well.
It’s a black plastic sphere made to look like an 8-ball from billiards. You shake it and turn it upside down, and an answer written on a triangle floats in blue liquid to a window, where it can be read. The answer surface looks like a blue triangle with white words.
The Magic 8 Ball was invented in 1950 by Albert C. Carter and Abe Bookman and now is made by Mattel.
The answers are on the 20 triangular sides of an icosahedron.
Each triangle gives an answer to any yes-or-no question: “My reply is no,” “My sources say no,” “Outlook good,” “You may rely on it,” “Ask again later,” “Signs point to yes,” “Very doubtful,” “Without a doubt,” “Most likely,” “It is decidedly so,” “Yes,” “Signs point to yes,” “Yes definitely,” “It is certain,” “Don’t count on it” and – better than getting a no when you want a yes or vice-versa — “Reply Hazy Try Again,” “Cannot predict now” and “Better not tell you now.”
Whew! Can you imagine how long it took me to keep shaking the ball and looking at it, over and over again, to get that many answers? I had no idea there were that many — did you? I didn’t catch all 20 before I got tired of all that shaking the ball and looking.
The other day, some visiting kids found the Magic 8 Ball in a pile of toys and squealed in delight. Their enthusiasm caught on with my daughter, who long had taken that toy for granted.
The Magic 8 Ball came with us when we went out for the evening. They asked question after question.
They brought me into it, as well.
“Magic 8 Ball,” asked the kindergartner, “Will Miss Holly be a witch?”
The big kids shouted, “Ewwww,” as if he had just gotten himself into major trouble, and the little boy apologized sheepishly. He had meant to say “rich.”
“That’s OK,” I told him. “I might end up rich. I might end up a witch. Who knows? The Magic 8 Ball does.”
“Magic 8 Ball, will Miss Holly be a rich witch?”
“Don’t count on it,” it replied.
“Don’t count on which aspect of that?” I asked.
A couple of days later, when I had been called into service as the chauffeur of a group of teen-aged girls, I heard a shriek from the backseat.
“A Magic 8 Ball!” they cheered in unison.
We went all the way from Bassett through Collinsville and Fieldale and Horsepasture to Spencer with questions: “Will Fernando marry me?” “Will Fernando marry Tyler?” “Will I make cheerleading next year?” “Will I get good grades?” “Will Fernando and I have a big wedding?” “Will Charles date Bethany?” “Will this pimple go away soon?” “Will Fernando be there tonight?”
The Magic 8 Ball has been sitting on my desk here in the newsroom for a few days now. It’s for research, I swear.
But someone just walked by and asked it, “Is Holly going to quit playing with toys and get back to work?”
Shake and turn.
“Don’t count on it.”
Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.