Monday, May 9, 2011

A Boy Who Couldn’t Care for His Toys

I knew when I was but a wee lad that I didn’t deserve proper toys.
by Charlie Leck

On a Christmas morning, when I was a young boy still distant from puberty, I found an incredible gift from Santa beneath the tree. I shook it once and guessed correctly what it was. My old man and my mother stood side by side looking at me with broad grins upon their faces. They tried not to reveal anything, but I could tell by the flush in their faces that I’d nailed it. Also, when I guessed, my two older brothers both got these weird looking grins on their own kissers.

“It’s the Gene Autry quick draw pistol and holster and I’ll bet the chaps, vest and cowboy hat, too!”

I’d had a conversation with Santa Claus about this gift when I had met him in the big Bamberger’s Department Store in Morristown. I was too big a kid to be sitting on Santa’s lap, but there I was. I didn’t want to chance not getting this gift. I needed to cover all the possible bases on this one. My mother didn’t seem in the mood to get it for me and I’d been watching her normal hiding places for pre-wrapped Christmas gifts. None of them held the possibilities of this box from Santa that I now held.

“Why not the Roy Rogers double draw holsters and guns?” Santa had asked me after I’d given him my very clear instructions.

“Gene Autry’s my guy,” I told Santa clearly. “My old man says them double draw outfits ain’t realistic and that cowboys weren’t that way. He says that’s sissy stuff. Roy Rogers is a sissy cowboy. Gene’s the real thing.”

Well, when I tore open the package, I was thrilled to see I’d guessed correctly. It was the most beautiful cowboy outfit ever – I mean EVER! And, it was mine.

Yet, it took less than a day to break that six-shooter and to tear the holster from its wide, handsome belt. I had been practicing my quick draw all afternoon on Christmas Day, determined that no kid in Jersey was going to be faster than I on the draw. Well, one time I ripped the gun out of its holster with such force and speed that somehow the end of the gun’s barrel got tangled up with the very top edge of the genuine plastic-leather holster. I heard the barrel snap away from the body of the six-shooter and the top piece of the holster tore completely away from the ugly remaining flap that then hung down from the belt.

I was less disappointed than you might think. Already I’d accepted the fact that I was one of our town’s most unfortunate, hapless, clumsy and pitiful kids. I destroyed toys faster than any boy alive. I left baseball gloves, bats and balls outside in the yard on evenings when torrential thunder storms brought with them inches and inches of rain. I broke a pair of brand new skis on my first run down the big hill up at Guerin’s Farm when I hit a patch of ice and went flying head-over-heels and ended up lying face down in the snow with the tips of the skis pointed straight out at a 90 degree angle from the latches that held my feet.

So, it didn’t come as too much of a surprise this morning when my wife’s first announcement was that I’d left my iPhone in the pocket of a pair of my pants that I’d thrown in the laundry hamper.

“I’m so sorry,” she meekly said. “I didn’t discover it until I was putting the pants in the dryer. Did you have an insurance policy on it?”

I knew it wasn’t her fault. I just don’t deserve fancy toys.

Only three weeks ago I got a wonderful new iPad2. I sat in the big chair in the living room and played with it for an hour or so and announced to my wife that it was probably the best invention ever – and I mean EVER. I carried it with me to the bedroom, crossing the in-laid stone foyer with it in one of my hands that also maneuvered my walker. The first little bump the walker hit sent the slick iPad2 flying from my hand and it landed face down on the dark grey stones. The two upper corners of the monitor screen were rippled with tiny cracks.

It’s been a rule in my life for decades. The finer the toy the quicker I’ll lose it or ruin it. I don’t deserve two-thousand dollar golf clubs. Just send me to the Second Swing store and let me buy a set of used ones for two-hundred. Before I got my iPhone, I had a 29 dollar cell phone with a flip cover that lasted me handsomely for more than three years and always worked perfectly.

In London once, my wife literally forced me to buy this magnificent camel hair top coat at the Burberry Store. She thought it looked so good on me. Wow! It was a beauty. A week later I was driving across Wisconsin on one of those days when it was too cold not to wear a top coat but too warm to really wear one. I stopped for lunch, hung my coat on a hook near the booth I slid into and, of course, left it there when I departed and drove on toward Minneapolis. A hundred miles down the road I realized what I’d done and found an exit from the freeway and back tracked to the cheap, little restaurant in Mauston. You guessed it! The top coat was gone and no one knew a thing about it. Had I purchased that coat twenty years ago at JC Penny’s, I’d still have it.

I’m so sick about it that I’m not going to tell you what happened to the 185 dollar tie I wore to the big Mother’s Day brunch yesterday – where they served these incredible, thick slices of beef tenderloin with a thick, red, cherry-based sauce slathered on top. It was the most beautiful tie ever – I mean EVER. Again, my wife had fallen in love with it when the clerk at Nordstrom's showed it to us and told us how good it would look with the shirt I was also purchasing.

"Oh, you've just got to buy it," she wined.

Had it been a 19 dollar tie I wouldn’t have felt so bad about it! Actually, had it been a 19 dollar tie the whole incident wouldn’t have even happened.


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