A Toy Story

My lust for toys went through phases when I was a kid, from action dolls to Matchbox cars to magic kits to a brief fling with fully functioning model trains, to video games.

The most “useful” action doll was “Stretch Armstrong,” which was the one doll that lived up to its name and moved just like the cartoon character. It stretched. Thus, it was “realistic.” One of my friends had one of these. The least useful was the “bionic man” Steve Austin doll, which was easily broken yet completely indestructible. His bionic eye was not a telescope but instead a simple hole drilled through his head with a glass tube inserted. The tube was cloudy with dust within months or minutes of opening the doll’s box. Thus, it was “real” as opposed to “realistic.” And that of course was the doll I owned.
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Me and Mr. Claus

I know Santa Claus, which I know sounds like a tall tale …

I do not remember the moment I learned that the many Misters and Missuses Claus that we encountered in person or saw on TV were “not real”; the fact that there was no “a-ha” moment leads me to assume that I never bought the story. Maybe so, maybe not. There is at least one photo of my sister and me in a “portrait with Santa,” and I remember the typical session. I knew, just knew, that the fellow was not Santa, and I did not feel betrayed by this; I knew it was a guy overheating indoors in a snowsuit for reasons related to “things grown-ups do.” It did not make much sense to me, to be a grown-up wearing a snowsuit indoors, but I did not envy adults the many things that they did, said, claimed, acted as if, and always eventually emphatically insisted made sense.
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