For two or three months now, a green plastic bottle cap has been collecting dust in my car. Along with a few pennies and a couple of mints, it sits in the flat little compartment by the cup holder that is probably meant to hold parking-meter change.
The cap is from a bottle of Sprite, I think. Since as an infrequent soda-sipper I don’t pay much attention to the finer points of bottle cap design, I’m not sure about this. Besides, I didn’t get this cap by personally emptying the bottle it came from. It’s in my car because it was a gift.
I received it from my five-year-old grandson when he taught me how to flip a bottle cap so he could defeat me in—er, challenge me to a cap-flipping contest. He demonstrated exactly how to tuck the end of your thumb under your curled forefinger, balance the cap on top, and flick up your thumb to send the cap into the air. It also would work with a coin, he explained.
How, you may or may not wonder, does a person get to a grandparentish stage in life without ever having learned the proper way to flip a coin?
I dunno, actually. Maybe because, not having either an allowance or opportunities to spend money as a child (you don’t run down to the store for a bottle of pop when the nearest store is 15 miles away), I never had coins in my pockets. Maybe because, with an older sister to tell me what to do, I didn’t need to make all that many decisions. Maybe because, not having brothers, I didn’t learn the skills for games like marbles or bottle-cap flipping that were considered to be for boys. Of course, I didn’t learn to play jacks either, which tends to weaken that theory.
Maybe because, as I got older, coin-flipping seemed like one of those life skills—like playing softball or flirting or being able to instantly tell one Beatle from another despite their identical haircuts—that everyone else already knew as a matter of course but that I had somehow missed. No doubt because I was off somewhere reading a book when the instructions were handed out.
But finally, this particular small deficiency in my skillset has been remedied by a five-year-old eager to show off a cool skill he had just learned from his father. With a little help from his younger brother, who strongly urged me to open one of the beers in his parents’ fridge in order to get a bottle cap of my very own. Fortunately, this solution became unnecessary when the five-year-old rummaged in the recycling bin and excavated the green cap.
I’ve carried it in my car ever since. I categorically deny that the reason for this is my rather casual attitude toward automotive hygiene. I keep it as a reminder of the earnestness of my little cap-flipping instructors. And also as a reminder that making decisions—something I’ve had trouble with all my life—doesn’t have to be such a big deal.
All you have to do is pick heads for one choice and tails for another, then flip a coin. Which now, having been trained, I know the proper way to do. Then—here’s the important part—before it comes down, notice which way you hope it lands. And tadaa! You have your answer.
Simple, really. Even a five-year-old could do it.