Your Questions Answered, Part II

Just days till Turkey Day, so good luck to all you folks traveling. I'm gearing up for a marathon run at "The Wire." And, of course, answering your questions.

And incidentally, the offer is still open. If you've got more questions, owing to the nature of the week, now's your chance. This one is one of two from Maggie (I'll answer 'em both). Maggie asks
1. What was your favorite toy as a kid? Explain.
This is one of those questions that's fun to answer but is maybe just a bit deceptive.

I had a fair amount of toys growing up, in part because my mother ran a day car out of the house. That also meant that while there were a lot of toys around, none of them were really mine either. In third grade, for example, a child bit the head off my Han Solo action figure and only I morned Han's loss. If only it were the carbonite, but alas, as I think Greedo tried to explain, for the family it was just business.

Those sorts of moments aside, when I think about growing up I don't really think about toys for most of it. Because my mom ran a day care, for a long time, there were plenty of kids to play with. And so when we played, it was freeze tag or superheros or some other pretend game. And when I was older than the kids she was watching, I spent most of my time at my best friend's house, swinging out of a tree, accidentally hitting his dog with a soccer ball (I swear, Pierre was a freakin' soccer ball magnet), reading comic books or later, watching Mtv.

But there is one toy that, by virtue of its simplicity, maintained its joy across most of those time periods: Silly Putty What a genius invention! Admit it, you would have played with Silly Putty long into your middle school days at least. Who didn't love stretching their favorite comic character's face? Silly Putty was the strangest thing to happen to comics till 5 Card Nancy. But Silly Putty went even further. Want to trap your G.I. Joe? Silly Putty is the answer. Want to simulate bodily functions to younger kids? Silly Putty. Stretch Armstrong just tried to steal Silly Putty's cool. And he failed! And that failure made his insides turn to goo (we know your weakness, Stretch).

Waxing poetic about it, Silly Putty is proof that the simplest ideas are often the best. It was, as are Crayons, an elegant, simple solution (and I mean this along the same lines as Watson and Crick's explanation of the double helix as a simple, elegant solution) to nearly any bored childhood (oh, who am I kidding, I still own them) moment. Keep your Nintendos. Break your GameBoys. Silly Putty on a family vacation almost made it tolerable to be stuck in the back with one of my siblings, the same way Crayons made more than a bit of life in a cubicle make a bit more sense.

Okay, now that [/geek] might really work. Tomorrow, part two of Maggie's question and maybe Belle's, too.

And, of course, just like Stretch always said, have a Happy Thanksgiving.


4 Responses to “Your Questions Answered, Part II”
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Maggie said...

I hate to break this to you, dear Dr., but if you have an academic blog, you're pretty much broadcasting GEEK at top volume for everyone to hear. There is no bracketing of "geek" for those of us with blogs, my friend. The more pertinent question is: What VARIETY of geek are you?

I like silly putty choice btw.

November 21, 2007 at 9:57 AM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

Seems to me there are degrees of "geek." You're right, just by blogging (in the same way that I think "just by having a Ph.D.") I am rightly considered a geek, spending time lamenting a lost Han Solo action figure from 30+ years ago escalates it. Hence, the extra tags.

Dare I ask how one determines the variety of geek (aside from me answering these questions, of course)? I hope it doesn't involve a blood sample or anything.

November 22, 2007 at 8:00 PM
Maggie said...

I think this is probably material for a whole blog post, don't you? (Or, a wiki entry, which would be awesome. And geeky. Or geekily awesome.) I'm thinking along the lines of "those that belong to the Emperor," "those drawn with a fine camel hair brush"... and if you get that reference, then you are special kind of geek indeed.

November 25, 2007 at 8:04 AM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

I'm not sure I need to be any more special a geek than I already am, but I can't resist. It's Borges, isn't it?

November 25, 2007 at 11:08 AM