Despite not having young children nor participating in the celebration of Christmas, Mrs. P and I found ourselves in the thick of the holiday shopping frenzy. Killing time before a snowstorm predicted for our area, we ventured into a nearby Barnes & Noble Booksellers. My wife had a printout of an emailed offer from the book retailer and I came along to peruse the books and novelty sections. Although our son is 26 and moved out of our house over a year ago, I still purchase toys — to accessorize my home office and work office, as well. The shelves of my office are jammed with figurines depicting cartoon pals from my youth and more recent film characters (Quick Draw McGraw and Jonny Quest stand cheek-by-jowl with Norman Bates and Cherry Darling, Rose McGowan's machine gun-legged seductress from Robert Rodriguez's schlockfest tribute Planet Terror.) Earlier in the day, I picked up a small figure of Fred Flintstone, complete with Royal Order of Water Buffalo hat, which will occupy a prime piece of shelf space this coming week.
Barnes & Noble was bustling. Parents were selecting educational gifts for their youngsters, along with the obligatory frivolous toy... and B&N is not short on frivolous toys. A few years ago, the fine folks at Funko - the West Coast toy manufacturer noted for their character bobbleheads - introduced a new line to their roster of pop culture icons called Pop! Vinyls. Like the bobbleheads before them, Pop! Vinyls are 3.75" tall representations of your favorite superhero, TV character or other iconic member of the fictional world. At Barnes & Noble, the colorful boxes were piled high on shelves and on the floor. Customers, young and old, scanned the window-fronted display boxes looking for their favorites. My wife and I hung back behind the small crowd that had gathered by the figures — children in bulky winter coats upfront, Moms and Dads on cellphones at the back. I, however, wanted to look at the stock. Perhaps there was one that would feel at home on display next to the small plastic Mr. Flintstone.
My wife commented on how cute she found the figures. The man standing next to her - cellphone wedged under his chin, his arms trying to wrangle the many boxed figures he was precariously balancing - agreed with her aloud. Then he elaborated.
"I got my kids The Little Mermaid and Cinderella ones. We gave them to friends who were going to Disney World and they got The Little Mermaid and Cinderella to autograph them. They signed 'em right across the heads!" He was quite proud of his ingenious accomplishment.
My wife asked, in a whisper, "Do your kids still belive in Santa Claus?"
"Oh no!," he laughed heartily, "They're way too old for that!"
Now let me get this straight. They are past the age of believing that a man in a red suit delivers toys to every child in the world in one night in a reindeer-powered sleigh, BUT they are perfectly fine with believing that a pretty teenaged girl who is working her way through college by wearing a red wig and fish fins on a float in a theme park parade is the actual Ariel from her namesake cartoon from a quarter-century ago... and her glass-slipper wearing BFF, too.
|"Please let me in."|
My wife replied, "Y'know, you could have just signed it yourself." with an uncharacteristically sarcastic tone in her voice.
The man smiled and said, "Yeah, well, our friends were going to Disney World anyway."
Mrs. P awkwardly smiled, wished him a "Happy Hoiliday" and slunk away. I joined her... right after I picked out Russell.