It was a subdued weekend. Didn’t have a lot going on. Went out when the weather was nice, even braved a couple rain storms. Since I have all this cool new TV, it seemed feasible to indulge. Wanting to watch something upbeat, I got Toy Story 3 off of Netflix.
The effect was the exact opposite of what I expected…
I should start by saying that Toy Story 3 is magnificent in every way. It’s touching, technically perfect, and good for kids of all ages. That’s what I liked about it from the beginning. And yes, we go back to the beginning.
Back in 1995, when the first installment arrived, we had a one-year-old boy running wild in the apartment. As his TV watching progressed from Teletubbies and Sesame Street, we tried to get him to watch things that wouldn’t send the adults into seizures of annoyance. (I still hate fuckin’ Barney…) I bought the original Toy Story on video, and we watched. And watched. And watched.
The toys came with it. We had the sixteen-inch talking Woody, (“There’s a snake in my boot!”) and the original Ingles-speaking Buzz Lightyear. Of course, with each movie came the Happy Meal tie-ins. A fair portion of the Toy Story cast lived at our house.
My niece came along about the time Toy Story 2 did. Repeat the above, along with tie-in toys. By now my nephew was old enough to move away from those kinds of toys and toward video games and build-your-own Lego robots. I’d still find him dangling Woody over the rat’s cage, saying things like, “You have one minute to talk, or it’s the Swiss cheese treatment for you!”
Fast forward a few more years, and the kids are now teenagers. They watched and enjoyed Toy Story 3, but there was no rush to buy a new Mr Potato Head, and nary a Happy Meal was requested. “It was good! It was cool! Thank you, Uncle!” That pretty much summed up the conversation about Toy Story 3.
I watched it, and it made me feel old. This Johnny-come-lately kid’s franchise came into my life around middle age, and now it’s run its course. Why does that make me feel so much older than seeing what used to be babies in my arms approaching adulthood?
My brother-in-law is on the same page. He saves all the kids toys in a shed in the backyard, presumably for ‘the future grandkids.’ I doubt that. He doesn’t want to let go of their youth any more than I do.
The kids? They are dealing with impending adulthood just fine. My niece is like Lisa Simpson, minus the hepatitic complexion. The nephew? He’s still in high school, going every day and enjoying it. I guess Buzz and Woody were pretty good role models after all.
I’m not sure where the Buzz and Woody doll-, um, action figures are these days. I don’t spend any time in my nephew’s room, so I have little idea what his sentimental favorites would be. I know he loved Batman, and spent most if his fifth year of life in a Batman Halloween costume. I’m glad his superheroes have noble intentions.
Me? I have several mementos from childhood. Most are things that belonged to my parents: The “ear spoon”. (A combination tweezers and small scoop for digging earwax out of ones head. It looks like a combination roach clip/coke spoon.) The wooden mixing bowl from 1930s Idaho. (I priced a similar one at Made in Oregon on sale for $97. The old one works just fine.) A strip of rail from Union Pacific, about a foot long and weighing about forty pounds. A teddy bear from Union Pacific, a gift from my uncle to my mom about thirty years ago.
But, probably my most cherished childhood toy? The scoundrelly villain, Wile E Coyote. When I had my tonsils removed in the late ’60s, the gift shop at Eastmoreland Hospital had Wile E and Roadrunner plastic action figures. It was THE ONLY PLACE YOU COULD BUY THEM. I begged, pleaded, sold my tiny soul and eventually mom or day brought me one. I was in heaven. Of course, as soon as my cousin Johnny saw it he wanted it. When I wouldn’t relinquish it, he talked his mom into buying him one. After he chewed the tail off his, he switched it with mine and they went home. I was now the proud owner of a coyote with no tail.
Four decades later, Wile E still sits on my mantle. I found him a girlfriend a few years back. (The redhead was on 82nd at a bus stop. Tricking her out seemed a given.) The two have been living amongst my toy collection ever since. In sickness and in health. Mostly in sickness.
I have the same problem with Shrek. I LOVE that series, but they make me feel old. I haven’t seen the last one yet. I understand Shrek Forever deals with midlife crisis. Bring it on.
I can’t say I wasn’t warned.