Monday, December 18, 2006

Toys, toys, wonderful toys. Dolls for the girls and guns for the boys.

Well, here it is again. That time of the year when we help keep the economy strong by buying oodles of stuff. Being the owner of two rug monsters, and having been a former rug monster myself, I've seen many kinds of toys.

For the first nine or so years of my son's life he could be sure of receiving a selection of Hot Wheels and at least two LEGO sets at Christmas in addition to lots of other crap-of-the-moment. Now that he's almost 13 he no longer has an interest in Hot Wheels and he has so many LEGOS that they fill a huge bin, so I've decided to find some different things to add to the pile this year. Since he reads this site occasionally, I won't go into details. Neener-neener boy.

The girl has always been difficult to shop for. She's just now showing an interest in things she got half her life ago. This year everything she's getting from me came from an "educational" store. Going to make one last try to build her brain up before it's too late. I'll let you know how that goes.

Anyhow, the point of this post is that while reading an article about "The Ten Most Dangerous Playthings of All Time" I was reminded of more of the crazy/stupid things I did as an adolescent.

I personally never owned a set of Jarts. My albino friend Mike had two sets. While we would play with them, we were never crazy enough to play "Dodge the Jart". At least not that I remember. We did get a bit carried away seeing how high we could toss them though; a game that stopped when one hit the roof of Mike's mom's car. They were taken away right quick that day. So we switched to darts. See, we realized that it would be insane to play "Dodge the Jart" but apparently "Dodge the dart" was fine. I've probably written about this before, so I'll be brief. The game consisted of one person standing out in the yard while the other person threw a dart in a high arc above the yardie (i.e. "target"). The yardie would then decide to stand or run. I'm pretty sure at one point the yardie had additional safety equipment called "a small piece of wood" that he could hold over his head, or try to catch the dart in if he was so inclined. That earned extra points. It wasn't a game we played often, but it was a game we played and something I would yell at my own kids for playing. I may be a hypocrite, but so be it.

I also remembered that for awhile in my childhood home we had a room in the basement that only had one small, high up window that led to a window well, an overhead sealed lamp fixture, a small heating vent in the ceiling and nothing else. No furniture at all. Four walls, a ceiling and a floor. And they used to chain me in the middle of the room and feed me live kittens while beating me every third hour with barbed wire. Oh wait. No. This actually leads to a happy memory.

One day I was bouncing around a superball outside, popping it off the garage door, chasing it into the street, etc, when I had a stroke of inspiration. I could toss the ball in that room and I wouldn't have to chase it into the street! And I could invite a friend! And turn it into a game! "Bob", the kid with the lazy eye, was up for it. The game was on!

So we went into the room, closed the door and then took turns throwing the ball as hard as we could, trying to hit the other person after the second bounce without getting hit yourself. You would be amazed the number of times you could bounce a superball in a small room. It was loads of fun until after one throw the ball vanished.

It bounced once and then nothing.

There wasn't any furniture for it to be behind. It didn't smash through the tiny window. It didn't smash into the light. It couldn't have gone through the crack under the door. I'm sure it didn't help that it was a clear ball. Finally after looking everywhere twice we found it. It had wedged wedged tightly between two slats in the heat vent that was in the corner of the ceiling. We had to drag a chair into the room to get it.

A week or so later the room was converted into a bedroom for my reviled half-brother after his mom kicked him out of Texas. So there went that bit-o fun.

Many years later I would discover a hint of my lost love of bouncing a ball in a closed and empty room when I started playing racquetball while in the Air Force. I say "while in the Air Force" because that meant I had free 24-hour access to the courts. After the Air Force the fun stopped because that shit's expensive.

Of course it wasn't quite the same. I was larger, slower, the ball was bigger as was the room and my opponent wouldn't stand still and get hit like I wanted him to. I probably wouldn't enjoy "Dodge the dart" as much these days either.

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Yeah, I said I would do "mask" for Illustration Friday and I didn't. I've had too much on my mind lately. Mainly what I had on my mind was the idea of getting a new car and saying goodbye to my 10-year old KIA Sephia. Sure, it was bottom of the line. You couldn't buy anything cheaper that didn't run on pedals. It was entirely manual; windows, steering, transmission. It didn't have a radio. It didn't have air conditioning. It was teal. However it was also amazingly reliable. The most expensive thing that I had to have done to it was get a tune-up and change the break pads. Well, as long as you don't count fixing the big deer dent in the front, and I don't 'cause I didn't. It was a good car. For the last six months it had been making a clanking noise when turning and occasionally when accelerating. I knew that was going to cost some cash to fix, and I really needed to decide if it was worth fixing. Then there's the matter of my ginormous teen-boy who is now at least three inches taller than me. It was starting to make me sad seeing him all scrunched into the KIAs front seat with his knees up on the dash.

So all last week I was researching various Saturns that are available. On Saturday I went in to test drive the Aura. Today I picked it up. If the boy outgrows that he'll have to start walking to school.

All that said, I have what I think is a great idea for "help"; this weeks word. I will try to get it done by Thursday. In the meantime, have a wonderful week.

4 out of 5 bloggers tasked with listing five things came through, with the exception being Pat Angello. I hope he likes licking strangers. He lives in a populous area and a mile can be pretty long. Everyone else, I've been assured that your monkeys are in the mail. Thanks for participating.

3 comments:

Heather said...

I love your new car. So pretty! :)

My monkey hasn't come yet.

Heather said...

Hey, wait a minute! Doesn't Jordyn have that disco ball?? I didn't have any of the dangerous toys but the Cabbage Patch Snacktime doll and the Sky Dancers are both evidence that people who manufacture toys don't play with them before they sell them!

Debra said...

First, Merry Christmas!

Ooh! The Aura is nice! I want one! Congrats!

I ended up with a new car for Christmas yesterday- lightly used, and you can see her on my site... had to post pics.

"Boring a hole in the patient’s head creates a door through which the demons can escape, and - viola! - out goes the crazy."