In this season of giving thanks, it seems fitting to digress for a moment to acknowledge that life is nothing if not cruel.
For example: so much of what we loved as kids becomes much easier to obtain as we grow up. But, just as our ability to acquire these things is realized, our love for them wanes and is eventually winnowed to nothing.
I say all of this because, just a couple of days ago I found myself in a place that, as a child, I'd have killed to be.
It wasn't like the doors to the chocolate factory swung open to me but, if I was 9 years old, it'd have been damn close.
No chocolate, instead I found myself wandering the aisles at a Mattel factory store with a coupon in my hand entitling me to 50% my off my purchases of literally, anything and everything the store had to offer.
There were more Hot Wheels than one could hope to have ever raced in a lifetime; there were also the loop-dee-loop, crash-and-bang tracks to send the miniature cars racing toward certain collisions.
“There were WWE wrestler dolls — and wrestling rings. There were Batman dolls for doing Batman things.
Ditto for Superman, complete with his cape. Harry Potter was there too and so was Professor Snape.
There were motorized cars to zip to and fro, there were dolls upon dolls, row after row."
(Alright, hearty apologies to Dr. Seuss for that. I tried)
As Mrs. Blackwell and I wandered the aisles, I couldn’t help but think of how my 9-year-old self would have been disappointed in the current version of me.
There I was, this old, bearded man totally unenthused with my surroundings, wandering the aisles with all the enthusiasm of a geriatric at the drug store, hunting for a deal on foot powder or lotion for cracked hands.
|I was shocked to find a "Miami Vice" car. I was|
more shocked to find a "Simon and Simon" car.
Hands up if you remember that show?
In “It’s a Wonderful Life” an old man yells from his porch at George Bailey to just kiss Mary, instead of "talking her to death."
He then bellows: “Ahhh, youth is wasted on the wrong people.”
With that in mind, I’ll suppose that I’m not quite ready to trade in the toy store for the drug store.
So, I shelved my disappointment and reset my focus. We were there for the boy, so why not gin up some enthusiasm on his behalf?
The goal of the trip was to answer the question "what would he like" not "what would I like if I wasn’t a humorless old man?"
Once my focus was recalibrated, this venture became a bit more fun. I wasn’t Tom Hanks in “Big” but we shelved the self loathing for a while.
Mrs. Blackwell asked about toys, “Would this be fun?” “How about this one?” and we got into it.
We ended up getting a few toys for the boy and some for friends and relatives. I’m excited to see how much the boy likes and plays with what we got him.
This is his third Christmas, so there’s still no guarantee he’ll be more interested in what’s under the wrapping paper than the paper itself.
No matter, I can’t think of anything better than sitting there Christmas morning as he rips through the wrapping paper with Mrs. Blackwell and I prodding him on.
That’s fun that my nine-year old self could never have envisioned.