The conundrum of the spinning plates

I don’t know if any of you are old enough to remember the Gong Show (or even game shows in general. They used to fill that gap between sitcoms that reality TV shows fill now). It was a goofy talent show where contestants would perform a wacky talent (or so they thought) on stage and three celebrity judges would watch for a specific period of time, until one judge would be so disinterested he/she would get up and bang the gong behind him/her, showing his/her disapproval of the performance. It was kind of like American Idol with more comedy and a smaller budget (I remember judges would wrestle with each other to keep one from hitting the gong).

One of the acts that seemed to make a repeated appearance (at least in my fuzzy memory) was the act with the spinning plates. There would always be several dinner platters placed carefully on the ends of varying lengths of wooden dowels and spun. The object was to get as many plates spinning at the same time and remain that way for as long as possible. I remember that act rarely went well.

The thing is, one or two plates spinning perfectly is a challenge, but probably doable. The chaos ensues when you animate more plates at the same time than you are mentally or physically capable of maintaining. It’s really hard to keep your eye on all of them, and each plate acts differently on each length of dowel. Once you lose your concentration, they all start falling over. Eventually you may just say, “Piss on it!” and angrily sweep up the broken china in your disgust, knowing full well you’ll be stepping on the hidden glass shards for weeks to come, each time a bitter reminder of your failure.

My point is my life feels like a never-ending sight-gag of me trying to spin all these stupid plates, and just when I think I got it down, another plate appears. I really wish someone would just hit the damn gong already!

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