Saturday, June 25, 2005

My Childhood, Myself ...

My brothers used to torture my toys.

There was The Sunshine Family baby, so cute in its little yellow onesie. The Sunshine Family had a pickup with a house that fit in the bed of the truck. I received it for Christmas one year. I was probably six. My brothers, Paul and Brian, abducted the baby and tied it to my dad's Lionel train tracks. Opened an encyclopedia and stood it over the track to create a makeshift tunnel. Flipped on the transformer, got the train up to speed, through the tunnel, and tried to run over the baby! It didn't work. The train derailed, but not before leaving a scorch mark on the soft yellow onesie, right on the baby's butt.

And then there was my Skipper doll. Granted, I didn't play with her much, but that didn't give my brother Brian the right to take a red skein of yarn, tie one end around Skipper's neck, tie the other end around a brick, and give Skipper a sacrificial heave-ho off a railroad bridge into a river.

I had a stuffed turtle with woeful eyes. And one day, in the basement, for no good reason, my brother Paul stuck its head in his mouth. The turtle had a big head but Paul had a big mouth and he managed to cram it all in. He didn't bite the head off the toy turtle, mind you, but he did get lots of spit on it.

And then there was Dressy Bessy, the coup de grace. Now, granted, Dressy Bessy had been relegated to the toy bin in the garage, no longer an A-list toy, but she hadn't been discarded. I still liked her. Sure, she was a little worse for the wear after several years of service, helping me to learn how to buckle and tie and zip. There was a tear in the seam in her neck, her exploitable weakness. Paul, the would-be turtle devourer and baby maimer, found an M-80, crammed it in Dressy Bessy's neck, lit the fuse, tossed Dressy Bessy up into the air, and -- KAPOW! -- Dressy Bessy stuffing rained down on me like so much synthetic snow.

Paul went on to get several degrees, one of which is in robotics, though he's never gotten around to systematically destroying toys, which was probably his intent. Brian is a partner in a toy-design firm, his desk often littered with eviscerated toys, sacrificed for their inner workings to help bring another toy idea to life, because fate is funny that way.

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