Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The not-so-wonderful toy



“Uh, I really have no explanation other than the Internet is an evil place.”

My husband looked at the gnarled mess of metal coils hanging from my fingertips, pointed and said, “You just killed the slinky.” 

Oh, well. There’s a first time for everything.

***

Twenty minutes earlier our six-year-old son had asked a simple question, “What kind of tricks can you do with a slinky, Mom?” He bounced the retro toy between his hands, making the slink-slink sound that has delighted easy-to-please children for generations.

An XBox can’t do everything, you know.

I beamed, “I can make the slinky go down the stairs.” 

“Big deal,” he shrugged in disinterest, “everyone can do that.”

OK. That punctured my pride a bit. It stung, but I shook it off. “I can make it flip from one hand back to the other.”

And...nothing. Tough crowd.

“But what kind of REAL tricks can you do?” he asked in despair, looking down at the slinky in his hands as if waiting for divine inspiration to radiate from within.

Oh, so sad.

So I uttered the shameful words that would later prove fatalistic in my quest to bring happiness to my son’s world.

“Let’s go check the Internet,” I offered and patted him on the back. “I bet we can find all kinds of neat tricks on there.”

***

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Mr. Wet Blanket (my husband) never appreciates a good time.

Go ahead. Ask anyone.

There he stood on the driveway, hands on hips, looking down his nose in disdain at the view before him.

I admit it looked a little strange, and the neighbors were throwing looks as they drove by. But that’s nothing new.

At least no one was naked this time.

Anyway...there I stood, clutching one end of the slinky while our son stood about 10 feet away with the other end.

“Go ahead,” I instructed him, “just walk backwards and stretch it out as far as you can.”

Our son looked over at his dad, who chuckled, “You’re gonna regret this.”

“Quiet,” I snapped. “This is an experiment. Besides, the Internet said it was OK.”

He shook his head and answered, “No, what the guy actually posted was do the trick ‘and see what happens next.’ That’s the part that concerns me.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Don’t worry,” I called out to my son, who was looking at my husband, his big eyes rounded in fear, apparently beginning to question his mom’s sanity.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

I hurried to calm his fears, “We’re just like astronauts and explorers, all those brave souls who dare to go places and do things everyone else is too scared to do.”

That got my son’s attention. He perked up and asked, “We’re like Indiana Jones?”

And I knew I had him. Like a puppet on a string.

“Darn right, we’re like Indiana Jones,” I assured him, shaking the slinky in my fist, which made metal waves echo down the line.

“OK,” he hollered, “Let’s do this!”

That’s my boy, I thought, proud of his can-do spirit that built this great country of ours.
He’s so gonna win a Nobel Prize someday.

Or, at the very least, own a Taco Bell franchise.

A mom can dream.

“Remember,” I cautioned, “on the count of three, toss the slinky high into the air, and we’ll see what happens.”

He nodded his little blonde head with supreme confidence, braced his legs, screwed his face into a look of determination and stared so hard at the slinky I thought it’d burst into flames.

“One,” I hollered, “two...and THREE!”

And so we launched the slinky high into the air where it arched like a beautiful, metal rainbow, freezing in time for an instant before both ends snapped back together then shot off in different directions. Then it dropped into a heap on the driveway and gently rolled to a stop.

I’d like to report the experiment was a success.

And it was. If you consider it a good thing to twist a slinky into so many different directions there was no force great enough to make it right again.

Who knew?

....well, apparently the wisecrack who posted it on the Internet in the first place.

That dude owes me a slinky.

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