Saturday, June 02, 2012

Nerd Therapy Session: Starch of Maize

This one goes back  to 1977, a spendy new toy, the burning curiousity to know what's inside and the misery that's always certain to follow.

More after the jump.....

Kenner’s Stretch Armstrong took the world by storm in 1977. Well, that’s how I remember it anyway, seeing as I was six at the time, that was the front page news.
I also remember being down right obsessed with him, I needed to own this toy, it was REALLY important. If I had to issue blame,it would be on my beloved Fantastic Four treasure edition which not only gave me great appreciation for Mr Fantastic but an adult fetish for women who look like Jack Kirby drew them.

My desire to own Stretch now seems a  little strange, he couldn’t hold anything, didn’t have any villains to beat up (this was pre Stretch Monster) and he wasn’t exactly all that aesthetically pleasing. He kind of looks like Marlon Brando in a speedo to be honest.

However, those are the thoughts of an all too pragmatic adult and not those of a child, he stretches, he’s new, I must have him. “Point final” as my francophone wife would say.
While I can’t remember the details, just that the stars lined up for me in the acquisition of a $12 dollar toy nowhere near Christmas or my birthday, as I happened to be in a Zeller’s store with my mother and my all too enabling Grandmother.
Somehow I convinced them to "team up" when I came across a display of Stretch dolls at the bottom of the aisle. For me this grand union was better than Spider-Man meets Superman. It’s a vision wonderfully etched in my mind as is the feeling of lugging that heavy shopping bag around the Oshawa Center.
As I was being tucked into bed that night, naturally with Stretch at my side, my mother made a fatal mistake in warning “Never bite him, the stuff that makes him stretch would leak out and ruin him” Across the hall my sister interjected “It’s the stuff people put on pancakes!”
That warning (and trivia) planted a seed that doomed Stretch forever.
I really enjoyed Stretch Armstong, play time was limited but he was really a great conversation piece. However, with every kid who asked me “What’s inside of him” it took it’s toll on my psyche more and more.
One night in bed, it just overcame me, in a moment of weakness, I bit into him. I remember the taste of latex and then corn syrup, to this day the smell of both turns my stomach.
Stretch started to dribble out a thick, red liquid, his face looked to be saying "Et Tu Brian?" I felt dizzy and sick, what had possessed me to do such a thing?
That was it, Stretch was put into a paper bag and stored in our sun deck where toys go to die. I lamented that stupid decision for months to come and you can better believe I did not receive a stretch monster the following year.
About a year later, I peaked into the bag and a slight miracle happened, the paper bag and the corn syrup had formed a bond and Stretch was good as new.
Other than the pure joy of being reunited with Stretch my recollection ends there, we played for a while until he disappeared like a thief in the knight along with Big Jim, Bullet Man, Maskatron, Mego Western Heroes and my Lincoln Monsters.  My head was too far into a galaxy far, far away to notice. Sorry buddy.
This incident has helped me relate to my children in numerous ways, whenever they do something I warned them not to do and can't explain why, I am immediately sent back to that moment of panic and that horrible,  sinking feeling. It's part of being a kid and sometimes it's a valuable lesson.

If you have a Nerd Therapy Session you'd like to contribute, email me here.

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