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The thrill of the toss is as old as time itself

I pulled the dish rag off the edge of the sink and gave it a whiff. Yep. A little sour, as I expected. Happens a lot this time of year. I walked it to the top of the basement stairs and gave it a fling to the laundry basket near the bottom of the...

Sam Cook
Sam Cook is a News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer.

I pulled the dish rag off the edge of the sink and gave it a whiff. Yep. A little sour, as I expected. Happens a lot this time of year.

I walked it to the top of the basement stairs and gave it a fling to the laundry basket near the bottom of the stairs. The object here is to sail it, Frisbee-like, so it'll land draped across the rim of the basket, where it will dry quickly. This isn't easy, but I can do this most of the time, and, oddly, I find it quite satisfying.

I'm not particularly proud of the fact that a perfect toss means so much to me. I just can't help it. Like a lot of little boys of my era, I think, I grew up with an innate desire to throw, heave, shoot, toss and lob with accuracy.

When I make the successful dish-rag toss, I'm back on the Cubs in Little League.

"Ground ball to short. Cook is up with it. Over to Heimbuch for one, on to Theisenvitz at first -- double-play!"

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Never mind that there were no announcers at those games. There were little play-by-play announcers in all of our Little League brains.

When I wad up a windshield wipe at the gas station, it seems much too easy to walk over to the trash can and drop it in. Oh, no. I eye the can. I read the wind. I let fly. Most of the time, the wad goes bouncing away, sometimes under the feet of someone else pumping gas. I have to go retrieve it, give the person a sheepish look, and drop the wad in the trash.

The point is, it was worth a shot.

Am I alone in this? I don't think so.

Phyllis and I were sitting in an airport somewhere earlier this year. We had stopped at a snack area for a little breakfast. When we were through, I wadded up my napkins into an aerodynamically sound little ball. I eyed a trash can near a pillar. I checked for pedestrian traffic.

This wouldn't be easy. I'd have to arch it over Phyllis and across about 6 feet of aisle. But at least there was no wind. I gave it my best Kobe Bryant. It looked good all the way. Straight into the hole.

That's when a guy eating with his wife and kids at the next table, said, "Nice shot."

See? This isn't just me.

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This goes back somewhere deep in our DNA, when slaying dragons or woolly mammoths meant something. What it meant was survival.

Two cavemen sit next to a small fire, roasting chunks of prehistoric prey.

Zork: "Meb, when I see you fling spear, I think, like, no way. But you throw good. Spear fly straight. Now, we eat."

Meb: "Just lucky this time, Zork. Just lucky."

But inside that pea-sized Cro-Magnon brain, Meb's thinking, "Sweet."

Which is why, when my dish rag landed at the bottom of the basket instead of along the lip, I was momentarily crestfallen. I got over it. But I made a mental note: Don't put so much on it next time.

Sad, isn't it?

But Meb and the guy in the airport understand.

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Sam Cook is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or scook@duluthnews.com . Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/samcookoutdoors or on Facebook at "Sam Cook Outdoors."

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