I was born just a year or two ahead of the real video game generation. The arrival of a Pong console at a friend’s house, when I was around five years ago, continues to be one of my earliest memories. My hand-held video games consisted of a printed screen on top of a small grid of red LED lights (hockey, basketball, football, etc.) A few years later, for Christmas, my brothers and sisters and I were given an Atari with about 20 games…it was the coolest thing ever! And then came Nintendo, and then came…well, most of us know how the story continued.
A couple of days ago I heard on a tech news podcast that the iPad is becoming the toy of choice for many young toddlers — it’s got video, it’s got music, it’s got games. The “perfect” gadget to babysit your kid for hours. I got to thinking about my childhood, and the toys that I used to play with before things went digital.
Barrel of Monkeys. Honestly, I still don’t understand this one…but I do remember playing with them for hours on end in my back yard, as I hung the monkeys from branches on a tree. I used to hand them one by one. I used to hang them in a chain. I used to wish for an endless amount of barrels of monkeys, so that I could make the longest chain of monkeys that ever existed.
Etch-A-Sketch. The best tablet device ever! The controls were simple: two white knobs. It never ran out of batteries. When you needed to reset it, all you had to do is turn it over and give it a good shake. I used to marvel at the reproductions of great works of art that some people were able to do on their etch-a-sketches, while being satisfied with being able to write my name in cursive script. (Did anyone ever figure out a good way to dot those i’s?)
Lite-Brite. Who couldn’t love the strange pixelated images made up of different colors of light? How many times did we have to subject family members to dark, curtain-drawn rooms during the day or pitch black (lights off) spaces during the night in order to see our work of art? There was one downside, though…once you punched the plastic pieces through the black piece of paper, your color indicator code was forever lost. I’ve still got a lite-brite somewhere in the closet of my home office, which I purchased only a few years ago.
Rubik’s Cube. The classic 3×3 version. I only ever figured out how to solve one face, but I still thought I was the most talented Rubik’s Cube player ever. (Except, of course, those young kids on television who could solve the entire cube in just a matter of minutes.) And then there was the screwdriver solution. Remove the pieces from the internal frame, reassemble them back into the correct order, and then try to get your mother or younger brother believe that you actually solved it!
Magic 8-Ball. ‘Nuff said.
Weebles. The wonderful, egg-shaped people whom no matter what, would not fall down. This only meant one thing, though: I hadto figure out a way to knock them over and prevent them from returning to their full upright position. The closest I ever got was resorting to a non-flat surface, like the pillow on my bed. It’s interesting how you can tell little boys that these toys won’t fall down, and all these boys want to do is make the toys fall down. It was sort of like the inflatable punching clown that my cousin had that acted on the same principle…fill the base with sand, and it will always stand right back up.
Earlier this week, I realized that I was only 37 years old…and not 38, as I had been thinking for the past few months. (Not that specific numbers really matter that much anymore…it’s not like 13…or 18…or 21!) I’ve still got a little bit of kid inside of me, it seems.
Any yesterday, as RA kicked once again kicked my a** (a true walloping if ever there was one…sometimes, it’s best to not even put up a fight), I was surprised at how much better I was doing by the time evening rolled around. Sure, I had spent most of the day confined to my bed, with barely enough energy to stay away. I was definitely knocked over. But just like I’ve still got a little bit of kid inside of me, I think I’ve also got a little bittle of Weeble inside of me.
I will continue to wobble…but I’ll never fall down!
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!