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  • September 8th, 2018


By Joel M. Vance

A few years ago I wrote most of a book about eggs. I’m fascinated by eggs. They are the beginning of all animal life and they permeate our lives like few other food items. But the egg book idea was greeted with what I can only call massive indifference and it rests in my computer today like a tired old dog in the sunlight.

So, in the interest of educating you about all the intricacies of the egg, here is one chapter of a book that very likely never will see the light of day—at least in the form of royalty checks made out to me.

Stupid egg tricks

Check any fourth grade classroom in America and chances are you’ll find something going on with eggs, from the kids watching a chick hatch to doing science experiments like changing the air pressure in a bottle to suck a hard-boiled, shelled egg into the bottle.

Actually, the egg is pushed from the outside when you burn a piece of paper inside the bottle and that causes the air pressure inside to lessen, the outside air pushes the egg inside and everyone goes, “Ooooaaahhhh!” and the science teacher preens.

The bottle neck has to be just slightly smaller than the egg. Larger and the egg merely falls in and no one is impressed; too small and no matter how much the eggs huffs and puffs it won’t go in. Anyway, that’s just one of a host of tricks more interesting that seeing how fast you can make two over easy disappear at the Dine In Diner.

You can do Stupid Egg Tricks at parties, too, especially if you don’t care whether you’re ever invited to one again. While most egg tricks reveal a scientific principle, they rank with putting a lampshade on your head and reviving the Dr. Pepper jingle (“I’m a pepper; you’re a pepper; etc.”) while everyone at the party desperately grabs for another stiff drink.

Of course there are commercial egg tricks—make eggs supposedly come out of your mouth or your ear, or disappear. But either you have to buy the paraphernalia or learn prestidigitation. Both involve more work and expense than the average half-drunk party clown wants to invest.

It’s always fun to try to balance a hard-boiled egg on its end. Supposedly eggs balance better on the equinox, so you might want to wait for a Spring Fling party to try this. Do it before everyone sheds clothing and cavorts around the May pole because it’ll be easier to get people’s attention. Some claim that it doesn’t matter when you balance the egg as long as it was laid on the equinox. There are many, many other partygoers who don’t give a shit either way.

Here’s another one to send your friends into terminal apathy: boil an egg for five minutes and let cool. Dissolve alum in a tablespoon of vinegar and write a message on the egg (“Yes, I know this is stupid” might be appropriate). When you peel the egg later the message should be on the white of the egg. But it doesn’t always work and if it doesn’t the failure might discourage you from trying future egg tricks.

That would be good.

But aficionados of egg tricks are not easily discouraged. You’ll find a life-of-the-party who insists on demonstrating the incredible strength of the egg by squeezing a raw egg with all his strength. The egg will not break. This works because of the egg’s resistance to equally-applied force (we’re getting into physics here and I barely scraped by high school physics, so just trust me, okay?). But if you are wearing a ring or if the egg has a crack, your hostess is going to be hysterical when she sees a raw egg splattered over the carpeting she just had cleaned for $1,000.

Cry, “Never fear!” before she goes for the .38 used to terminate burglars and idiot party clowns. “I’ll just scrape up the excess and wash the carpet.” Scrub with dishwashing liquid, a teaspoon to a half-pint of warm water, followed by a solution of a tablespoon of ammonia to a cup of water.

“See! All gone!” Then get the hell out of there.

If the burly husband of your hysterical hostess grabs you by the scruff of the neck and hauls you to the middle of a large body of water, then pushes you overboard, better hope it’s the ocean because you’ll float more buoyantly in salt water than fresh.

So will an egg. There are several tricks involving eggs in salt water and eggs in fresh. Tell a friend you have magic powers (make sure the friend is either young, dumb or incredibly gullible). Slip an egg into a glass of water and watch it sink. Then tell your dumb friend to close his eyes (“his” because girls are far too intelligent to fall for something like this).

Substitute a glass of salt water, fish the egg out of the plain water and hide that glass, then slip the egg into the salted water. Depending on the amount of salt the egg will float partly or all the way to the top of the glass. Mutter “Abracadabra” or some such nonsense, then tell the friend to open his eyes.

“Sumbitch!” he exclaims. “I need a drink of water after that.” And he goes to where you’ve hidden the fresh water glass, smirks at you, and drinks it. If you can think to say, “I hope you didn’t taste the arsenic in there,” you have a future as a class clown.

Of course egg throwing is a time-honored way to express yourself—possibly more demonstrative than writing inflammatory rhetoric that no one reads; certainly better than fulminating in the woods where only the rabbits cower in fright.

The Chinese consider egg throwing a time-honored method of expressing displeasure at official activity, although engaging in it in Tiananmen Square under the Chinese Communist regime is not a wise idea.

Works fine in Poland, though. Former President Bill Clinton once was hit by an egg and it wasn’t even thrown by a Republican Congressman. It was a Polish teenager who apparently disagreed with the idea of economic globalization. The cops arrested the kid, but didn’t simply shoot him.

The United States is not exempt. In late January of 2004 a disgruntled citizen lobbed an egg at the mayor pro tem of Houston. Robert Horton, who apparently is a frequent visitor to City Council meetings, said, “I’m the one who pays the cops. But, hey, they can’t seem to recognize the boss.”

Another familiar at council meetings is a man who claims he is going to record an album with Michael Jackson and yet a third who claims to be the president, only prevented from taking office by the Mafia. Clearly Houston is the seat of alternative government. Humpty Dumpty would have been completely at home among all the other crackpots.

But Houston isn’t the only city with egg on its governmental face. Three juveniles and an older man egged the homes of four Oxford, Ohio, city council members back in 1998. The council was involved in the demolition of a 76-year-old water tower that, apparently, the quartet of egg lobbers did not want to see demolished. “Democracy has failed,” read notes left on the doorsteps of the egged politicos. “Save the water tower or die.”

Egging is somewhat less ominous than a death threat and the four were arrested for (and I love this legalese) “aggravated menacing and criminal mischief.” Mischief always is such a rollicking word, carrying the implication of good fun. “Aggravated menacing” sounds like in-your-face carried to the point where your face has cleat marks on it.

That’s just one example of egg throwing to make a point. It’s possible Proto Man threw eggs at the cave of his rivals, but more likely he bonked his drooling enemy with a sizeable rock. Carries more authority than a fragile egg.

Bath, England, had a rash of egg throwers some time back. One target, not fully explained or at least not to my satisfaction, was “a group of tap dancers.” I don’t know if they were targeted as they danced or not, but it would have made a great show. “Some one is getting hold of copious amounts of eggs and throwing them around,” said a policeman. “I’m fed up with this.” He asked shopkeepers to keep an eye out for anyone buying eggs in bulk, though he didn’t specify when egg buying became copious.

In yet another English to-do involving eggs, the police stopped a bunch of youngsters trying to egg participants in a parade at Tranent. An American cop would have commented stiffly, using cop jargon: “The juvenile perpetrators were observed in the act of throwing eggs and were apprehended.” But PC Pamela Black summed it up this way, “There was a bit of a carry-on but we spotted the culprits, gave them a flea in their ear and confiscated the eggs.”

Less amusing was a confrontation in North Hollywood when some young males in a Suburban began throwing eggs at a documentary producer named Michael Craven. He blocked their vehicle, got out…and they ran over him. Egg throwers can be guilty of more than aggravated menacing.

Egg throwing even has changed the course of government. In 1917, the prime minister of Australia, on tour in Queensland, was egged by demonstrators at Warwick, possibly Irish nationalists or members of the International Workers of the World, the IWW or Wobblies. Queensland at the time was a rebellious province and the police refused to arrest the egg throwers.

The PM, William Morris Hughes, formed a commonwealth police force to protect him and future PMs—an agency similar to the American Secret Service. That force evolved into today’s Australian Federal Police who helped Warwick celebrate its splattery past in 2001 with a reenactment of the egg throwing.

Earlier I spoke of eggs squeezing without breaking it as a cute parlor trick. As a matter of fact, YouTube features a video of a burly guy cradling an egg between his hands and squeezing as hard as he can—without breaking the egg. Apparently it depends on how the egg is placed with the ends in the hollow of the palms.

And there is a video of some guy showing various egg tricks including the sucking-into-a-bottle showstopper and trying to pile weights on an upended egg to see how much it takes before the egg shatters. He also mixes some sort of substances in a bottle, places an egg end on atop the bottle and waits for a chemical reaction to shatter the egg like a hand grenade. But there is an on-screen caution. “Don’t try this at home”. Not recommended for viewing by elementary school kids who are notoriously curious.

Given a kid’s insatiable curiosity about forbidden pleasures (Swiping a sip of Mommy’s martini when she is so blasted she doesn’t see you do it, sneaking a peek at Daddy’s Hustler magazine), it’s wise to shield them from instructions on how to make an egg bomb. We should also probably deny the fourth-grader in the White House from access to YouTube lest he point an exploding egg in the direction of North Korea and inadvertently start World War III.

If you’re into egg throwing as a sport, see how far you can toss one without breaking it. The Guinness record is 317 feet 10 inches. That’s a throw from right field to home plate, but it had better be into a barrel of goose down, not a catcher’s mitt. If your arm is shot, try for the record of standing eggs on end. Taiwanese elementary and junior high students stood 602 eggs on end in 10 minutes in 2001 to make the Guinness book.

This proves the often-quoted belief that Asian students are far advanced over American youngsters because the Taiwanese little kids beat the previous record of only 467 set by a bunch of Colorado elementary school kids.

Asian teams usually win the Little League World Series also. What this proves I don’t know and, like most stupid egg tricks, almost no one cares. Especially publishers of books about eggs.

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