Saturday, July 5, 2008

Hey Kids! Check This Out!

The time...Sometime in the early 70's...The comic...Probably a Disney, or Man-Thing, or, God only knows what ...The comic has been lost to the mists of time, but the experience of stumbling over this little ad amongst all the sea monkeys, ugly hands and X-ray specs remains; the wonder of such a magnificent and generous offer-two whole Roman armies for a couple of dollars! It was enough to set a clutch of greedy brothers to dreaming- ah! the magnificent carnage of 132 roman soldiers with spears, catapults, chariots tearing into each other for victory or death! Well, I'm sure you know the rest of the story, you probably had one of your own, whether it was the 6 ft Frankenstein or the flying ghost, or those stinkin' sea monkeys; you begged borrowed or stole the couple of dollars, despite parental warnings that "those things are all gyps!" , you had to see for yourself...After all, the only plastic figures to be had in stores were the same tired sets of jungle animals, farm animals, dinosaurs, and the ubiquitous cowboys and indians...They would change the size or the color of the plastic but they were always the same, sometimes with very crudely painted details that made you wonder why they bothered ...(I remember an elephant with very tiny eyes on the figure being painted with huge splotches of white and yellow making it appear as if two huge fried eggs had been dashed against its face.) So something as exotic as roman soldiers was just too much to pass up...Besides, on the order form it said "Gentleman- enclosed is my order for-"...Now these were Gentleman, they would never dash the hopes of red-blooded American youths by gyping them, would they?Well,after months of waiting and dreaming the soldiers finally came marching in; in a box the same size as the kind kitchen matches come in...Yes, they were tiny, really small, you'd have to use tweezers to play with them...The other batch we had ordered at the same time were bigger but were flat! They were equally sucky in two very distinct ways...Needless to say we were embittered by the whole experience , when you could consider that our mighty Roman legions could be defeated by a wayward line of sugar ants...I think we had one or two half-hearted attempts at playing with them before giving up and admitting defeat...Those guys were no gentleman! You could imagine the greedy turds smoking cigars and laughing as they hauled the pitiful envelopes of hoarded dimes and quarters to the bank...Then the scales fell from our eyes,; we lost our innocence; we could see the rip-off behind every offer: the six foot Frankenstein, a mere paper cut-out; the flying ghost, a wad of tissue on a string; the horrible hands, green dishwashing gloves; and of course we all know the sea monkeys are spiky little brine shrimp...Looking at the ad now I can see the tiny print indicating the figures size, but we were looking at the ad through dreamy kid's eyes and didn't foresee the burn, one of those burns that sticks with you... Now, all these years later , I have finally learned to forgive...Because the thing that we really bought for $2.25 plus shipping and handling was wisdom-let the buyer beware! A good healthy dose of scepticism can keep you out of the poorhouse, steering you clear of miracle weight loss programs, hair growth treatments, and quick and easy refinancing offers...It's also helpful when examining religious beliefs, political philosophies and even relationships...So, maybe these were gentleman after all...Oh, and I don't know for sure, but I bet those X-ray specs really did see through clothes; man, I should have gotten those instead...

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