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Commentary: What the dickens are fidget spinners?

FILE - In this May 18, 2017 file photo children hold fidget spinners at a school in Bern, Switzerlan
Children hold fidget spinners at a school in Bern, Switzerland on May 18.
(Alessandro della Valle / Associated Press)

All of a sudden, I am hearing about fidget spinners everywhere. Even in the funny papers!

When I first saw the gadgets on the counter, they reminded me of the replacement heads for Norelco shavers. I saw them in Lido Pharmacy recently and ignored them. But my son Mark was with me, and he asked the woman who was waiting on me what they were.

“They’re just . . . things. They spin. Here’s an open one.”

Mark fidgeted with it but shortly put it down.


I wondered who’d ever want one of those. But as I think back, I have used “fidget devices” most of my life. It’s hard for me, for example, to sit still when I am on hold on the telephone. These days, I tend to play spider solitaire while I’m waiting and checking the clock.

In years past, I had a connected strip of pink and blue blocks that were hinged in such a way that they could be bent into all sorts of shapes, and that kept me distracted from the passing of time. A Rubik’s cube could also distract me, although I never had all sides matching at once.

Before and after those, I’ve had “magic wands” in various colors.

The magic wands’ claim to fame is that the bits of beads and stars and sparkles inside of the hard, narrow plastic capsule slide slowly from one end to the other as you tip an end up. Not awesome, but diverting.


My favorite magic wand is about a foot long and has peach-colored doo-dads in it. If you’re in a darkened room, some of the bits inside glow in the dark.

Some people doodle, some tear paper into confetti, and some now use fidget spinners.

If you see someone holding a flat, sort of triangular metallic thing by its center and spinning it with his or her other hand, that’s a fidget spinner. They come in a multitude of colors and some of them seem to cause a blur of color as you spin them.

I’ve never been one to sit and wait patiently for anything. In a doctor’s office, I am deep in a book so as not to watch time pass. Sometimes, I find myself nervously playing with the rings I wear on a chain that are usually concealed beneath my sweatshirts.

On the phone, when someone has overestimated the depth of my interest in what they’re saying, I am likely to be “magic-wanding,” or if I’m on hold, playing spider solitaire.

I should’ve bought one of those new-fangled things.

LIZ SWIERTZ NEWMAN lives in Corona del Mar.