Toy stores are for adult connoisseurs

by Bob Huber

Now that I’m knee deep in sunset years, I suppose it’s time to stop pining for the mornings of my life and enjoy the evenings. But that doesn’t mean I have to stop playing with Christmas toys, does it? I say nuts to that.

I don’t want you to think I’m angry, but I refuse to accept the old bromide that toys are only for kids. Why should they have all the fun? We’re the ones who pay for it.

What’s more, I remain steadfast about folks who think I should grow up and stop pestering toy store clerks. I have an excuse — I’m simply addicted to playing with toys during the holidays, that’s all. And I refuse to go through withdrawal symptoms.

Instead, store clerks should praise me. They should say:
“Ah ha, sir, I see by the gleam in your discerning eye that you are a connoisseur of Christmas toys, a man who doesn’t give a hoot’n holler for new sweaters or wild ties. What would you like to play with today?”

Or words to that effect.

What a relief that would be. No more pretending to brood over toys in stores as though they could be gifts for grandchildren. Truthfully, my grandkids are grown and absorbed with their own toys such as beer kegs, cell phones and wishful ogling.

Truth is, I just enjoy toys at Christmas time, so I naturally migrate to toy stores. To paraphrase Willy Sutton, the bank robber, “That’s where the toys are.”

You see, Christmas is the only time of year when a grown man can zoom off to the Enterprise — “Beam me up, Scotty. There’s no intelligent life down here.” — without promoting sidelong glances. If he’s in earnest, he can also become an authority on electric racing cars and water guns, or teenage mutant Ninja turtles and drum sets.

He can also spend creative hours researching frontier forts where skillful maneuvering keeps marauding savages at bay. Or he can wonder at Barbie (some assembly required) or attack the enemies of world order with GI Joe.

I’ve sometimes imagined Barbie and Joe running off together, but not often. You know where that leads.
By the way, have you noticed erector sets are back this year? They disappeared a while back, because some vice-president type said erector sets were blasé. I almost wrote a nasty letter to the editor,

But I have the most fun when I thumb through children’s books. I’m already looking for new ones this year, like “Harry Potter Does Dallas,” or “The Hardy Boys Reveal Victoria’s Secret,” or “The Berenstein Bears Picket Yellowstone.”
Other literature ranges from scheming sea gulls to spotted zebras, and from Civil War myths to Glurp from the planet Zorkon. The only things missing in toy stores these days are reclining chairs, smoking stands and steaming cups of Irish coffee.

A few years ago I thought I’d found the Valhalla of Toydum when electronic games came out. No one could top a Nintendo game. Then along came Super Nintendo, otherwise known as the Elysian Fields. My life hasn’t been the same since.

It was during these changing times that I was permanently banned from a Toys-Backward R-Us store In Lubbock, or until I could exit the premises without kicking and screaming as my wife dragged me away. I showed up later with an affidavit that said I was genuinely very aged and therefore entitled to special privileges under the Harmless Old Grouch Act, but it didn’t do any good. I almost filed suit.

But a simpler toy saved an attorney’s fee when it caught my eye — a foot-tall bantam elephant that raised its trunk, shook its head and bellowed right there before God and unused credit card balances.

You couldn’t miss that elephant. It was next to the little bouncy dog that barked and then lifted a leg in the corner.
But again this year I’m told by the powers that be that I’m over the hill, and I should be happy to coast lazily down the backside slope. I’m supposed to savor gifts like shirts and socks, even large belt buckles and small travel kits.

That’s OK, but please don’t ban me from toy stores during the holidays. I don’t bother anyone except bigoted clerks and, who knows, maybe someone will see how much fun I’m having and tell Santa to put a new game in my stocking.
I never know what Santa might bring. He’s so capricious.

Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales. He can be contacted at 356-3674.