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Love, With a Side of Revenge

Love, With a Side of Revenge

When Nathan was born, my sister Jenny got excited about being a cool aunt. Clearly, part of what this meant to her was giving cool gifts.

Cool, loud gifts.

The Cat

Remember the Cat in the Hat movie? Not the beloved TV short, but the Mike Myers film nearly no one liked, at least partially because the cat sounded gratingly like, well, Mike Myers? A talking Cat in the Hat from that movie came in for Nathan’s birthday one year.

The Moose

Or meet Mark the Moose. Aunt Jenny gave him to three-year-old Nathan. Mark the Moose’s only saving grace was that he was out of the attic for only a month at a time:


(To really capture the full experience we had, watch it every 60 seconds for two hours. Gaze with childlike wonder for at least the first hour.)

You know, his legs used to move, too. Maybe I, oh, savagely beat his legs with a hammer one year and just don’t remember.

Sheesh, it’s not even a real Christmas song, but I suppose that’s a good thing in the end. Otherwise, what beloved classic might Mark the Moose have ruined for us?

The Truck

By far, the worst one was a motorized monster truck with lights and sounds. Crafted lovingly in hell, it was probably about the size of a shoebox, though in my memory it’s as big as a lawn tractor. Here’s what it screamed when you touched it:

“PRESS FORWARD OR REVERSE ARROW NOW!”

(roll back, forth, back, forth with crescendoing VROOM sound)

“PRESS FORWARD OR REVERSE ARROW NOW!”

(roll back, forth, back, forth with crescendoing VROOM sound)

“FOUR BY FOUR SYSTEM SHUTTING OFF!”

Note that I said when you touched it. This isn’t even the noise from the toy doing a routine or a trick. This is just what it did all the time.

Loud? Let me tell you how loud. So loud, people didn’t believe me until they heard it themselves. So loud, I couldn’t believe a set of batteries lasted any longer than five minutes. So loud that I took it apart and duct-taped a folded washcloth over the speaker, which softened it just enough that we only had to raise our voices to be heard, as opposed to shout.

I’m not sure where that truck is now, but I sincerely hope it is no longer intact.

Now I must say, Nathan was generally delighted with these gifts. They were, therefore, good gifts by definition. Aunt Jenny did a fine job being a cool aunt.

And then, Aunt Jenny had a little girl.

Oh, yes. Yes, indeed.

A Dish Best Served Cold

rcm0511151Now we’ve gotten our dear niece the occasional gift that plays music or lights up. But this past Christmas, we began the counterstrike in earnest. Lea was shopping for Jenny’s daughter, and in came the jubilant email:

“Hey Bo, how about a stuffed dog that sings ‘I Can’t Smile Without You’?”

Wow. Could you make that up if you tried? My next two questions were “How loud is it?” (not very) and “Can you stop it once it starts?” (unfortunately). Nevertheless, off it went to her. She loves it. We even got a message from Jenny later marveling at how often she wants her to hear it.

And my dear sweet sister never even considered that we were returning fire. (I guess she knows now.)

What’s next? Drums? Air horns? A megaphone? Who knows? My kids are older. Yours isn’t, Aunt Jenny.

Brace yourself, my dear.


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View Comments (5)
  • You know what? I am not only cool but, pretty smart. I knew it was a counter strike from the very first noise making gift she received. However, the Barry Manilow singing dog has been the worst. Without a doubt. Thanks for the post

    • I’m really sorry to hear the Barry Manilow dog has been the worst. Really, REALLY sorry. Really. 🙂

    • Aunt Bee, I’m so glad to have some solidarity with you on this. Can you believe that toy was developed, manufactured, and released in that state? The phrase “beyond all reason” comes to mind…

  • I apologize for the truck. I even apologized that day when he opened it. It WAS NOT that loud at the store!

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