Tracy K. Lorenz ...


Welp, Christmas has come and gone and my request to not get any presents was once again ignored but I’m getting closer. Once you’re over about sixteen the receiving of gifts is more compulsory than necessary and I’d prefer to abandon the gift-receiving process, I’d rather just enjoy the day for what it was meant to be rather than a display of wealth. If someone needs something get it for them, you shouldn’t have to wait for a specific date, if they don’t need anything then let it slide.

That being said, here is a short list of the best gifts from my youth:

My first aquarium:  It wasn’t huge, 29 gallons, but it was my first official aquarium and I loved it. I had to paint the back with some special aquarium paint that smelled like mothballs and dried in a crystalline pattern, I put gravel in the bottom and set up the filters, and I got my first fish that weren’t goldfish. I also learned a very important lesson: the cheap fish never die.

Creepy Crawlers: There is no way on God’s green earth that Creepy Crawlers would be allowed to be sold today; they violated every tenet of safety, health, and common sense.  Creepy crawlers had little molds (a spider, a rat, a scorpion, etc.) that you poured “Goop” into then placed on a hot plate that heated up to the core temperature of the planet Venus. The only thing more insane to give a child would be Creepy Crawlers you could eat, those came out a year later and didn’t taste a whole lot different than the nonedible version.

A Dissecting Kit: Yep, it came with an actual frog, a scalpel, some tweezers, and a microscope. I’m guessing I was about ten when I got it and I can still smell the formaldehyde that the frog was embalmed in. In your wildest dreams can you imagine giving a ten-year-old a scalpel and a frog for Christmas?  All I know is I still have all my fingers and when my friends played “Operation” I laughed because I got to play actual operation. “Take out wrenched ankle...”  Hah!  How about “Take out frog lung...”

Hot Wheels Track with Super Charger:  Unless you’re my age you don’t remember when Hot Wheels were actually good. When they first came out they were FAST but fragile and were actually quite expensive. The track I got for Christmas had two “superchargers” on it which could propel my cars at, oh, I can’t really guess the speed but if you shot a car at your brother it caused pain.

Spirograph: Little geared wheels that created geometric patterns when done correctly which, unless you were a Shaolin Monk, was out of the question. I played with my Spirograph for hours and I don’t think I ever finished a pattern unscathed. Another toy that you could never sell today, every wheel was the size of a child's trachea PLUS it came with a box of tiny pins to hold the paper down as you failed.

Electric Football:  Slightly less realistic than Madden 18, it was a metal field on which you placed your official one-inch-tall NFL plastic players. It would take five minutes to set up a play, then you’d turn the table on and it would vibrate at a speed unconducive to anything even remotely resembling football. Players would go in all direction, one guy would spin around like a meth addict, another would head towards the wrong end zone, the guy with the ball (which was made of felt and about half the size of the actual player) would rattle around until an opposing player touched him and then you’d start all over. The best was the kicker. The guy was five times the size of the other players and could kick the ball somewhere between three inches and two hundred yards. If you can picture a monkey with a shotgun that would give you a general idea of how accurate the kicker was. I defy anyone, on this planet, ever, to honestly tell me they ever made a field goal in electric football.

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