Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Remembering The Magic Of My Toys

I read something in someone else's blog.

She wrote, "I wish I had known the last time I was going to play as a child in the bathtub w/my ship and the little people. I used to have such a good time!! I wish I knew the last time I was going to play in the sandbox my dad made for me too. I used to LOVE playing in there. It was red, and had a cover, and was under a tree to give us some shade. I wish I knew the last time I was going to ride my childhood bike with the banana seat, and the girlie basket w/flowers. Just one are too big." I remember the day my toy soldiers turned to plastic.

They used to have a magic about them.

They weren't moveable. You couldn't dress them in different clothing. G.I.Joe's came out while I was a child, but most of the toys were simple. They were small plastic figures of men.
They came in several races. Not white or black, but green -- or whatever color their uniform came in.

Americans were green.

Japanese were beige.

Germans were light green, I think.

Russians were blue.

They were all World War II soldiers, which was great because everyone's Dad fought or did something in World War II. They were the living heroes of my youth and I always loved hearing their stories.

I would line up the soldiers and prepare them for battle. A crumpled piece of paper -- perhaps some old homework -- became a giant bolder. A baseball cap became a mountain. If I played outside, blades of grass were trees.

There were men who looked through binoculars, all sharing the exact same pose.

There were bazooka men, all kneeling in the exact same fashion.

There were men on the ground, aiming a rifle, in the exact same manner.

But they were somehow different. Each had a personality. Each represented somebody who was alive and struggling to keep the world safe.

It would take time to set up the battlefield, then the guns would fire.

Bullets could only travel on my finger tips.

A man would fire when I touched the end of his rifle, and in slow motion, my finger would move across the battlefield to find a victim, who would fall. Although he'd been lifeless before, he somehow became truly lifeless now.

The Americans would always win.

I packed my toy soldiers away when we moved to Georgia. I was in the 7th grade and that was the year I discovered an alternate universe called reality. David and I bought our fist Playboy magazine, and I've been in love with Dee Dee Lind ever since. He and I decided it was time for us to start dating, and since we didn't want to date each other, we double dated taking Mary and Kay to the movies to see "To Sir, With Love." I tried my first cigarette. I drank a few sips of Vodka.

Somehow in that move to Georgia, childhood was never unpacked.

I found my toy soldiers when we moved to South Carolina a year later. I took them out and set them up in a great, final battle.

When my father walked in, he knew he'd embarrassed me. He assured me that it was all right for an 8th grader to play with toys and quickly left me alone with my toys.

But it was too late.

The magic was gone.

They weren't men. They were pieces of plastic, nothing more.


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