Boys and their toys
By John Gray
It started for me with Rockem Sockem robots. Is there anything cooler than punching another guy in the chin and watching his head pop off? Video games were non-existent when I was a child unless you count a game called “Pong”. This featured a little white dot traveling back and forth on the TV screen at roughly the speed of a turtle on sedatives. If kids today saw that game they would think they were watching paint dry, but 30 years ago that was cutting edge stuff. Air hockey, ping pong, spending a rainy Sunday afternoon sinking another guy’s ‘battleship’; these were the bread and butter of my youth.
Just because you grow up doesn’t mean you have to put away your toys. You know what they say about boys and their toys—as they get older they still want them, but they tend to get a bit more expensive. Since the magazine this month is dedicating some of its space to this very topic I thought I’d offer my own insight into all the toys I can’t afford and would no doubt hurt myself using if I could.
Two wheels or three—Like every child, I was lucky enough to have a bicycle when I was a boy. Unfortunately I grew up in the 70’s when a crazy man named Evel Knievel was jumping over everything in sight with his motorcycle. Being a silly boy, my friends and I would stack bricks on top of each other, lean a board against them to create a ramp and try to imitate the daredevil. I never broke any bones, but did chip a tooth going over the handlebars. Did I mention 12-year-olds tend to have more pimples than brain cells?
I have only driven a motorcycle once in my life. I was 15 and a friend of my brother’s let me climb on his after three weeks of non-stop begging. I kid you not when I tell you the ride lasted 1.2 seconds. I popped the clutch, gunned the throttle and the dirt bike immediately shot straight up in the air like the space shuttle. Unfortunately, I didn’t reach the clouds. The bike came straight back down on the tail light, breaking it and then fell over on its side. I’m pretty sure the bike’s owner would have pummeled me if I didn’t have two big brothers to protect me.
I’ve never driven an ATV, but if I was going to give one a spin I would definitely turn to the Neimann Marcus catalogue and buy the GG Quad ATV. If a muscle car and a motorcycle got married and had a child this is what it would look like. It is beyond cool and retails for a reasonable $56,465. It boasts having 95 horsepower under the hood. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds impressive. If you plan to crash something, why not make it a vehicle that costs more than your college education?
I have gas—The ultimate boy toy is the gas grill because it brings man back to his caveman days, where all he needed was fire and a hunk of raw meat to have a good time. Most married women will tell you that just watching their husbands is proof positive that man hasn’t evolved all that much from the cave; the inappropriate scratching, bad hygiene, the growling when someone tries to take the last chicken nugget.
Now, some people prefer to barbeque the old fashioned way by putting charcoal into a grill, spraying in a quart of lighter fluid and tossing in a match to create a small nuclear explosion. We lazy folk prefer to have a gas grill that does all the work for us. Sure you could go to the store and buy a grill for $200 bucks, but this is America where, with a credit card and a 21% interest rate, you can purchase a small kitchen and roll it into the backyard. A grill that clearly says to everyone in the neighborhood, “Oh yeah, top this!” Just for giggles I went online and found something ridiculous called the Bread Baker Two Gourmet Grill.
Retailing at $8,590, it promises to give you the ultimate grilling experience. It has 862 square inches of cooking surface. If you are not good with math, that’s roughly the size of Green Island give or take a couple of feet. It also generates 176,000 BTU’s of heat so it can cook an entire cow in 30 seconds. For those who don’t know, BTU stands for “Burnt Till Unrecognizable”.
Whether you buy the $9,000 grill or something George Foreman may use, I would like to offer you one piece of advice. It’s a life lesson I learned the hard way: Do not attempt to put a grill together yourself unless you like cursing and throwing tools. In fact, if that was an Olympic event I’m sure I’d medal. Whatever they charge you at the store for assembly is worth it. The typical grill comes with 1,242 small screws and bolts, and directions that have the audacity to say, “Congratulations on the purchase of your new grill.” Trust me—this is not a time for celebration or congratulations. Put it back in the box and have the nice man at the store put it together for you.
I need more plasma—Every villain in the James Bond movies has a secret room where he pushes a button and a wall full of flat screen TV’s appears. It’s here where he plots to overthrow the world and watch “Grey’s Anatomy” on Thursday nights. (Hey, even evil people cried when Denny died last season.) Every guy wants a room like this in his house to watch football on Sunday. For someone who works on TV I know very little about the technology. What I do know is that the more letters in the name of the TV the more expensive it is—HD, LCD, the Grand Wega 720p. One thing is certain, if you buy anything 50 inches or larger you’ll have to give the store an IOU.
My Sidekick loves Blackberrys—I guess the most popular boy toy these days fits in the palm of your hand. We can’t go anywhere without being in constant contact with the world around us. Personal devices that allow us to talk, text, email, watch videos, play music, take photos and do everything but walk the dog (although I hear that’s coming!)
I love technology and can’t imagine life without it, but the greatest joy for most “boys” doesn’t come from expensive toys. Show me a father who wouldn’t trade all his high tech gadgets for a game of pitch and catch with his son. You remember pitch and catch don’t you? It involves a white ball slowly going back and forth between two people, kind of like “Pong”. Proving the point that the more things change the more they stay the same. And thank goodness for that.
John Gray is a Fox23 News anchor and contributing writing at the Troy Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org