PERHAPS the best that can be said of Ted Skup is that he didn't let go the dreams of his youth. While his aging contemporaries allowed themselves to be distracted by adult cares, Mr. Skup remained steadfast in pursuit of a goal that had eluded him since school days. Now at age 38 he has finally achieved it: the creation of the perfect spitball. School may never be the same -- or, more accurately, it may be altogether too much more the same.
That's because Mr. Skup has not only invented a more effective spitball -- one that utilizes modern polymer technology -- but has also succeeded in getting it manufactured and marketed. Currently being sold under the name Spit Wads, Mr. Skup's product comes in quarter-ounce chunks that cost $1.29 and are broken up into several projectiles suitable for immediate throwing -- no tearing and chewing of paper, no difficult judgments as to whether proper throw-weight has been achieved.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Mr. Skup, who lives in Schererville, Ind., spent about a year testing various compounds before coming up with Spit Wads, which have the desirable features of sticking to their target and not leaving a stain that could get them banned under some future Geneva Convention on Classroom Warfare. Then he sought and received financial help from an old friend named Scott Hicko, who also had a spitballing background.
The two of them think they may do well, especially since their product is selling about as briskly to adults as to schoolchildren. The field they seem to be pioneering -- the application of high technology to classroom misbehavior -- would also appear to have a bright future, especially in such areas as the video transmission of blackboard insults.
Those who behaved in school and thus might resent the success of the Spit Wads entrepreneurs should comfort themselves by imagining that both are troubled by a recurring dream in which they are found out by an elderly but still vigorous former teacher, grabbed by the ear and taken directly back to the fifth grade, where they are set to cleaning erasers for the rest of their lives.