Christmas came and Christmas went, and in the wake of Santa Jesus we found the flotsam and jetsam of a child’s joy –what I’m saying is, our living room exploded and gave birth to a metric ass-ton of baby toys.
And now, over a week later, I’m left rocking back and forth. In the corner. Covered in a shellacking of dried saliva and carpet fibers, my fingers burned with battery acid as they tried desperately — and failed with equal desperation — to pluck AA batteries from their plastic cradles. My vision flits in and out. My muscles twitch with myoclonic spasms. I… hear things.
I hear the heretical hymns and blasphemous songs of a thousand insane toys.
I hear them when I wake.
I hear them when I sleep.
I no longer can distinguish between day and night, between up and down.
I have gone mad.
* * *
As it was the child’s first Christmas, that meant that everyone felt inclined to Go Big Or Go Home in terms of providing the tiny human with gifted amusement. That includes us, of course — we, too, procured for him a bounty of entertainment even though he’s got the attention span of an epileptic cricket and frankly is capable of achieving maximum delight from Tupperware containers, paper towels, or his own wriggling feet.
That said, buying toys for a new child is everybody’s right, and I’d dare not rob anyone of that pleasure.
The bounty included such plastic idols of childish wonder as:
Blocks; balls; some kind of baby-sized faux-laptop; Elmo; a talking puppy; an electronic plastic “book;” a learning station that features such disparate items as a phone and a book and a piano and, I dunno, an autopsy station or something; a thing that might be best described as a “musical lawnmower;” another set of blocks; rings; wibbly-wobbly bean-shaped things; and so forth.
This is all wonderful and we are of course thankful to have these things.
You need to understand:
These things all make noise.
They all make noise.
THEY ALL MAKE NOISE.
The blocks squeak! The balls rattle! The puppy barks and talks about his ear and his feet and his paw and tells the baby he loves him! The book sings songs and barks and meows and baa’s and bleeps and blorps! Everything is a cacophony of saxophones and ABCs and 123s and and bings and dings and ringing phones and chimes and rhymes and timing tones and next thing you know your ears are bleeding and you’ve developed this tic and you smell the stink of burning flowers before you fugue out and stab the mailman.
* * *
The toys, they are impatient.
And they reward impatience, reveling in it.
B-Dub, he likes to crawl around and lay resplendent amongst his booty, flailing his limbs so that his hand punches one toy and his leg kicks another and then he’ll flop up and over like a breaching whale and crash his head into another toy. Each punch-kick-headbutt elicits a brand new sound. But the sounds will gladly interrupt other sounds — just as one is beginning to dig into a chorus of the ABCs or Hey Diddle Diddle, the baby hits another button and then another sound or song begins. And trust me, these things are All Buttons. Every little widget and hinge and plastic nubbin does something — every tiny insubstantial movement or event sets off a chain reaction of musical bedlam. If the baby just breathes near one of them it’s suddenly lighting up like a fucking rocket booster and singing some song about a happy froggy.
It sings the song of madness. Our house sounds like this:
Hey diddle diddle the cat and the —
A B C D E F —
Meow! Meow! Meow!
I Love You!
Mary had a little —
Hey diddle —
*saxophone smooth jazz*
It’s learning time!
It’s learning —
It’s learn —
And meanwhile it’s all lights and vibrations and suddenly I’m starting to stroke out and wonder, “Sweet Christ on a Crumbly Cracker, is this why kids have ADD?” Then I wipe the nosebleed and pass out.
* * *
If you leave the toys alone long enough, they get… angry.
They’re like the toys from Toy Story: they demand to be played with. Each toy addicted to play, fun-junkies who just can’t get enough, man. The toy phone will ring, tell you it has a call. The book will beg to be opened, beg to be played with, hungry for storytime. The puppy wants the baby to know: I love you, baby who I just met yesterday, baby who’s name I don’t know, baby who punches me and bites me and who later ignores me, I love you so much I’d kill for you.
You turn the puppy off and he goes silent.
But even the slightest vibration returns him to life.
You sneeze two rooms away and the puppy’s back.
I love you, you hear.
The toy, talking to nobody.
It’s a trap, you think.
* * *
“Ring around the rosie / The doggy chase the kitty / Husha, husha / We all fall down.”
What the fuck is that?
What happened to the pocket full of goddamn posies?
Rosie and Kitty don’t rhyme!
…or maybe they do.
Maybe I’ve just lost my mind.
*blubber whimper sob*
* * *
A B C D E F G H I
Ring around the rosie
Ding ding ding
Ear! Blue ear!
IA IA CTHULHU FTHNAGN
I AM THE SONG THE WORLD SINGS WHEN IT DIES
KALI MA KALI MA KALI MA SHAKTI DE
THE ANGELS WENT SCREAMING INTO MOLTEN PLASTIC AS THE DEVIL LAUGHED
AUM NAMAH SHIVAYA
It’s learning time!
* * *
All the while, as the chorus of mirth and madness plays on, the baby is hyper-crawling his way toward anything that’s not actually a toy. For all the bounty that exists, he’s happy trying to eat a ball of lint or head-butt the couch. Or, best of all, track down the actual dog, a dog who he perhaps loves more than anything in this world. I’m sure as my wife and I slowly descend into the caverns of lunacy, the boy will discover our drool-slick bodies supine on the floor and he will find great amusement in playing with our twitching fingers, our slackened jaws, our tightly-curled toesy-woesies.
And the toys will sing an electronic dirge to mark our mind-death.