I've been avoiding the news lately, mostly because I dislike heart palpitations. They scare me and they make me cranky, much like the news itself.
The price I pay is missing stuff like this: Toy Hall of Fame Inducts the Stick.
Now that is funny, as in snorting-coffee-out-your-nose and laughing-until-you-pee. There's even a photo of the beaming curator holding the stick, proudly housed within another classic, The Cardboard Box. (I am so in the wrong job.)
Once I caught my breath, though, I began to remember my childhood, way back at the dawn of time, and the fun we used to have with the good ol' stick.
A neighbor had a row of trees that dropped loads of long, willowy, flexible switches. They became jockey whips, transforming our bikes into race horses. They were magic wands, and instruments of tickle torture; pointers for the teacher when we played school; probes for investigating the contents of mud puddles.
Best of all, they were forbidden. Parents assured us we'd put out an eye with them. They told us, in dire tones, the story of then-famous Andy Divine, a gravel-voiced actor who ruined his throat by running with a stick and falling on it. We could end up like Andy, croaking our way through life -- and blind to boot.
In reality, the stick was the least of our perils. We raced our bikes down the middle of the street, and nobody wore helmets. We rode them behind the DDT truck, in the cloud it made when it sprayed the alleyways to kill flies. We tunneled into sandbanks down by the river, with no thought of cave-ins. We fished in a chemical soup of a river. We trusted and obeyed adults, even strangers, just because they were adults. A broken thermometer was an occassion for fun with mercury. Cars didn't even have seat belts. Nobody gave any of that a thought. But sticks? Lethal. Certain death.
Now here we are in 2008, and the stick is vindicated. Exalted, even.
So now I know what to get for all the kids on my Christmas list. Yes, kids, Santa is bringing switches this year. And this is officially A Good Thing.