By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
Those of you who follow my brother or me on Facebook know that last Friday would have been our dad’s 100th birthday. For those of you who don’t follow us…it still would have been his 100th birthday. He was a much-loved man, affectionately known as “Poppins” to one and all. Whenever our family gets together we tell funny stories about him and do “The Poppins”. What is that, you ask? Well, whenever Pop’s martini ran dry, he would set the empty glass on top of his bald, round head, signifying that a refill was necessary. He did it at home, of course, but also in restaurants, bars, and airplanes. It never ceased to get a laugh…and an immediate refill. So now that he’s gone, anyone who puts an empty glass on their head is doing “The Poppins”.
Last Christmas as the family was gathered at Bob’s house we talked about how we might turn “The Poppins” into a marketing tool for a liquor company. We agreed that we first needed to make it a “thing” – kind of like Miley Cyrus and her twerking, only funnier and not disgusting. We had a fun conversation about it and plenty of laughs and then forgot all about it. But last week, on what would have been his 100th birthday, we posted a picture of him and requested that everyone hoist a glass in his honor. We got some amazing toasts but also received pictures of people doing “The Poppins”. We thought it might be fun for everyone to join in so, really as a public service, herewith is a primer on how to do “The Poppins”.
1. Start Simple – and Unbreakable. This is critical. No one thinks it is funny or cute to have broken glass and red wine spilled on their white carpeting. So start slowly. A plastic cup is perfect. In fact in my opinion the Red Solo cup people ought to be jumping on “The Poppins” bandwagon. Next, a little bit of liquid adds weight and makes it easier to balance. Trust me on this. At our dad’s memorial service I took a plastic cup up to the podium so I could demonstrate “The Poppins” to the SRO crowd. I knew I was on thin ice to begin with and didn’t want to further annoy the minister by having the cup tumble all over the altar. So I filled the cup half way with water. It worked like a charm, although I think I am still going straight to hell after that stunt. In any event, as pictured right, our good friend Marge Dunn sent us a picture on Friday of her doing “The Poppins” and she has done everything right – plastic cup for outdoors, still filled with liquid, and grinning from ear to ear. Perfection!
2. Improvising is Key . Sometimes, it is not just a martini or wine glass that needs filling. As you can see from the picture at left, Bob’s son Jeff chose to do “The Poppins” at work. Since pretty much every workplace frowns on consuming alcohol during working hours, he chose to improvise. Smart boy! A coffee mug is a perfectly acceptable tool and is also good for beginners. My husband has been putting his empty coffee cup on his head for years now. Long ago he figured out that whenever I saw him do that I would chuckle and think of my dad. So instead of saying something like, “Gee, dear, why don’t you get up and pour your own cup of coffee?”, I gingerly pick it up off his head and toddle off into the kitchen. I suspect he is secretly teaching the dog how to balance his bowl but I can’t be certain.
3. “The Poppins” Masters. Eventually, with enough practice, you will be able to graduate from plastic cups and coffee mugs to fine stemware. This gets tricky and should be done with some amount of judgement (assuming that anyone who is putting a glass on their head has some judgement). For example, if you’re going to your new boss’ house for the first time, I wouldn’t try doing “The Poppins” with their Waterford wine glasses. However, I once was at a corporate retreat (“retreat” meaning 10 minutes of business and 5 hours of golf) followed by a small cocktail party, where I demonstrated “The Poppins”. We then repaired to the hotel’s snobby dining room where the waiter apparently thought we were in a gulag. No water, no bread, no service. But…at the slight encouragement of my teammates, I put the very fine wine stem on my head and VOILA! the waiter came rushing over to our table. So…”The Poppins” really does have some practical applications. Two of the best practitioners of “The Poppins” in our family are daughter Wendy and brother Bob, pictured here. You can only aspire to be this good.
It is truly a skill worth learning. You will have fun, make people laugh, and get your glass refilled at record speed. What could be better than that? So help us popularize “The Poppins” at your next outing and let us know how it goes. Disclaimer: Breakage, dry cleaning bills and humiliation are to be assumed by the trainee.