Some of us never really grow up.
My kids know this about me. It’s said about many dads, really. But, it’s more than just making fart noises (with your mouth) and misbehaving in church. It’s holding fast to some of the things that connect us to our actual childhoods. Much of this is intangible.
Some of it is tangible.
My new friend Bacon Thompson, who puts a split hove to the blog Pig Love, asked followers to share their favorite toys from childhood. My (I won’t call her old) friend Michele from Old Dog, New Tits (I said it) asked for a post with a number in the title.
This is the best mash-up since KitKat. Or at least since Elvis Costello and Diana Krall.
The little plastic kind. But they had to be authentic. No Tyrannosauruses with three fingers. No quadrupedal carnivores with dragon tails. A kid knows the difference between a triceratops and a styracosaurus.
The toy didn’t have to roar or have moving parts; that’s what my imagination is for.
I had a load of these prehistoric beasts that met with an unkind fate.
I took them to the side of our house and buried them with plans for the greatest single excavation event performed by an elementary school kid. I just had to have lunch first.
I took enough time on my baloney sandwich that dad put down a new sidewalk on the same side of our house as archaeological history was to be made. Such a find would wait for another millennium.
2. Electronic football
These handheld games came with a silent mode that allowed us boys to play them long after bed time under the cover of our bed covers. They were late 1970s precursors to smart devices – only the worst thing we could do on them was turn off a game we were losing to start over.
Every boy seemed to have a different brand, and that’s where home field advantage was born. On mine, I was every bit Freeman McNeil and William Andrews, and virtually unstoppable. My game’s touchdown anthem sounded like the first bars of the theme song to The Bob Newhart Show.
On the real field, my game was much more like Bob Newhart’s – deadpan, and delivered with a stammer.
1. Star Wars figures
Specifically, my Stormtrooper. I still have him, yellowed with time and play, with limbs still tight because it meant so much to me. He’s been touched up with model paint in the great-intended but ill-crafted way of a 9-year-old boy.
(Maybe I was 13. What?)
There’s a reason Stormtroopers figure so prominently on my blog.
My dad lost his job at a meat packing plant in Greeley, Colo., during my prepubescent years. He worked odd jobs and odd hours to make ends meet, and it often meant missing him at meal time and even bed time. My birthday was no different that year.
And I missed my dad at my party.
Around the time cake had been dutifully destroyed, the headlights raced across the wall. Dad was home! He walked in the door, weary from the work day. I hugged him around his belly, and he said, “happy birthday.” He pulled my gifts out from his jean-jacket pocket.
It was two Star Wars figures – Han Solo and a Stormtrooper.
They weren’t in their packages, and had their guns in their hands. He had no idea why that made a kid like me giggle the way I did.
See, I had this image of my dad, sitting in his truck outside Montgomery Ward, opening two packs of Star Wars figures. Wait, I just thought of him scouring the rack to pick out two figures. That was funny, too.
But the thought of dad opening their packages and putting their guns in their hands …
Star Wars figures and football cards were just tolerated clutter in the house with a son. My parents didn’t sort cards with me or play Star Wars. This is why the idea of my dad doing this for me after a long day at work was probably the best gift a boy could want.
The Stormtroopers? They’re a little shout-out to my dad, my legacy. And a sure sign to anyone who reads this blog that, no, I’ve never really grown up.