Monday, December 11, 2006

The truth about toys

As much as I loved Christmas as a child, it did teach me an important lesson about truth in advertising. There is none. Or at least there wasn't when it came to ads for toys.

I think it was 1968 when I finally saw the light. It was one of those transitional years. My oldest brother Ted was a hunter and asked for duck decoys and a duck call. My other brother Dan asked for a telescope.

I was 10. I was convinced that what I really needed to be happy that Christmas was this Mars lander spaceship that from what I could judge from the television commercials was a fully operational space ship that I could control. It would take off and land based on my piloting skills. I had to have it.

As you can almost see from the photo, we all got what we asked for. Ted got his duck decoys. Dan got his telescope (you can see one leg of it on the right of the photo) and I got my Mars spaceship.

The problem was the spaceship turned out to be a stinking balloon you taped onto a plastic gondola. The remote control turned out to be a cheap fan you controlled with a handle. If you moved it at the right angle, you could make the balloon float around the room.

Even at 10 I knew it sucked and I'd been lied to. It was fun to play with for about five minutes. Even my the underwear and socks my mother always managed to slip under the tree as a Christmas present were more interesting in comparison.

Okay, you can slip into your lectures now about commercialism and toys not being the true meaning of Christmas. BS. The reality is that we all want things. And it is the wanting that is sometimes more satisfying than the getting. The bummer is that I fell for the dream and got sideswiped by the reality. It was one of those Sea Monkey moments.

But I learned my lesson. Apparently all of those people who fall for the Nigerian spam scams didn't.

Who said there isn't magic in Christmas?
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