Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Ballad of the Spider

Gather round, children, I've a tale to share with you. Pull up a chair and listen close, and you might learn a thing or two before the end...

Once upon a time -not so long ago, in fact -there was a man named Marvel. When Marvel was young, he was one of those children who had a lot of toys. His bedroom was littered with fun toys of all shapes, sizes, and colours. And Marvel loved each and every one of them. He would sit in his room, perched atop his bed or inside a fortress constructed out of blankets, and play for hours. Every toy was used and appreciated to its fullest extent. But Marvel's absolute favourite toy of all was Spider-Man.

Spider-Man was one of those toys that Marvel took everywhere. He brought it in the car with him. He took it over to grandma's house. He would bring it to school, tuck it safely in his backpack during class, and play with it all recess long. Marvel adored the Spider-Man toy; cherished it, even. To him, Spider-Man was more precious than all the gold in the world.

As the years went on, and Marvel grew older, he gave away some of his lesser-used toys to other children. When he found out that his uncle & aunt (to whom he was very close) were having a baby, Marvel did a very noble thing and gave that lucky baby the coveted Spider-Man toy.

"But, Marvel, you love that old toy!" his aunt said to him.

"Yeah, I do," admitted Marvel as he handed the toy over. "And I've got a lot of fond memories of it, too. But here's hoping my new baby cousin will make all-new memories. I only hope this Spider-Man toy makes him as happy as it's made me."

So more years rolled by. By now, Marvel was in his late twenties, married, and his wife had just given birth to twins. An ecstatic Marvel was at the top of the world; life was certainly good, and could only get better from here. But one night, as he sat watching his newborn twins drift softly off to sleep in their crib, he noticed a few inches of empty space between them and couldn't help but feel that something was missing. It only took him a few moments to realize what it was...

The very next morning, Marvel went back over to his uncle and aunt's house to visit his little cousin, a precocious nine-year-old boy named Sony. Marvel made his way down to the basement of the house to find Sony sitting lazily on the carpet, sucking on his thumb and not really doing much of anything. Scattered about the room was a mess of unused toys and other odds and ends. It was a hot summer morning, so a ceiling fan rotated overhead, bathing the room in cool air. The boy looked up when his older cousin entered the room. "Hi, Marvel!"

"Hi, Sony!" Marvel said, kneeling down so that he could be at eye level with the boy. He noticed an enormous black electronic device positioned next to the wall in the corner, and curiously inquired as to what it was.

"Oh, that? That's my PlayStation!" Sony chirped happily. "It's my favouritest toy in the whole, wide world! I play with it every day!"

"Sounds like fun!" said Marvel. He noticed something else, a flat black box with sleek LED lights. "And how about that?"

"Oh, that? That's my Blu-Ray player! It's also my favouritest toy in the whole, wide world! I play with it every day, too!"

"Sounds great!" said Marvel. Then he noticed a massive pile of colourful toys sitting next to the Blu-Ray. "And what are all those?!"

"Oh, those? Those are Underworld, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, and Men in Black! I've had those toys since I was a baby! They're my favouritest toys in the whole, wide world times infinity!"

"That sounds swell, Sony!" Marvel said with a happy chuckle. "Looks like you've got a lot of really neat toys down here." He shifted his weight on the shag carpeting to get more comfortable. "Actually, Sony, speaking of toys...that's what I came here to talk to you about today."

"Whaddya mean?" asked Sony, tilting his head curiously. Then his eyes flashed with excitement. "Did you buy me a new toy?!?!"

"Um, no, not today. Sorry," Marvel said. "See, buddy, the reason I'm here is I'm sure you know by wife and I just had two babies. Twins, actually."

"Yeah, mom and dad mentioned it last week," said Sony, who looked utterly disappointed that there were no new toys in his forseeable future.

"Well," Marvel explained, "we bought a lot of new toys for the babies, and we really don't need any more. But...I was setting them down to sleep last night, and a thought occurred to me. I thought that it would be so nice, and so sweet, and so gosh-darn poetic, if I could give my very own children my favouritest toy in the whole, wide world. If I could pass down the one toy I cherished above all others to my babies, and let it be loved for a whole other generation."

"Which toy is that?" asked Sony.

"Well, the Spider-Man toy, of course," said Marvel. "I loved that toy more than anything when I was little."

"But you gave that to me!" said Sony.

"I sure did," said Marvel, "back when you were born. And I'm sure you've had a lot of great times with it, too! But you've gotten bigger since then, and you don't use that Spider-Man toy anymore. You've got plenty of other toys that you love more. So I thought it would be nice to be able to pass Spider-Man down to my babies."

", I use it all the time!" Sony lied. "I use it plenty!"

"No you don't," said Marvel. "I can see it from here. It's lying right there behind the couch, under that pile of unwashed socks and crushed soda cans."

Sony rushed over and retrieved the Spider-Man toy from beneath the pile of garbage, clutching it defensively against his chest. "No! It's mine!"

"But your parents told me you haven't played with it in almost five years now," Marvel said gently. "Don't you think you should let someone younger have it? Someone who'd appreciate it more?"

"No! Mine!" Sony whined. "I appreciate it more."

"But, Sony, be reasonable. I was here five years ago, the last time you played with Spider-Man! I remember you said -and I quote -'This toy is stupid and I don't want to play with it anymore'. Then you tossed it behind the couch onto that exact spot where it's remained for these past five years until you moved it just now!"

But alas, little Sony wouldn't budge an inch. He kept the toy securely in his hands and scoffed. "Mine!"

Marvel sighed, defeated. He knew his little cousin well enough by now to know that there was no arguing with him. "Okay, Sony," he said, his shoulders slumping with disappointment. "You win. You can keep my cherished childhood toy." Before Marvel turned to leave, though, he added, "But...I want you to make me a promise right now. I want you to promise me that you'll play with it. You'll take good care of Spider-Man and you'll play with it and appreciate it and never treat it carelessly. Because that toy means more to me than any other toy in the world. And I want to make sure I'm leaving it in good hands. Okay? Do you promise?"

"I promise!" Sony squealed with delight. "I'll play with it right now! Watch!" And he tossed Spider-Man up into the air triumphantly.

But unfortunately, Sony tossed the wall-crawler a little TOO high. Spider-Man collided with the whirring overhead ceiling fan and shattered upon impact, scattering a dozen bits of broken plastic every which way until pieces of the mutilated Spider-Man were strewn all over the basement. "Oops!" Sony blurted out. "Oh, well!" And he continued to suck his thumb obliviously as a heartbroken Marvel turned and left the room.

And that, boys and girls, brings us to the end of our little story. So what have we learned? We've learned that there are some things in life too precious to give away. One person's idea of gold might be another person's idea of pure garbage. Toys are meant to be played with, kids, not hoarded. They're meant to be loved and enjoyed and appreciated to their fullest extent possible. If you've got toys you never use, guess what? There are a million people out there who would love to use them. Waste not, want not.

The end.

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