Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Emotion at the TRU

Jada Toys. Is this not the baddest Lincoln Continental you have ever seen? It is my desktop at work, at home and on the Blackberry. This is freaking ART.

One of the nice things about where I live is that it is in walking distance of the local Toys R Us. I like going to the TRU because it gives me an understanding about what pop culture is bringing to us and what it is slowly fazing out.

For example, Iron Man action figures are there already. Robert Downey Junior plastic heads with Stark Industry level helmets to slap on them. That movie isn't going to drop until May...but there they are at the TRU.

I have another reason why I like to go there. I love the toy cars. I always have. There are pictures of me as a kid with fistfuls of Hot Wheels. Well, for 99 pennies, you can still grab a Hot Wheel. Last year they did this Motown Metal collection with a grip of muscle cars from the 60s and 70s. I was on it. I have 2 of them on my computer tower at work. There are bigger toys too. There are the Jada Bigtime Muscle cars. These things are beautiful. They are at a level of craftsmanship that would have made me go blind as a kid.

So I am at the TRU. Ivan was with me. He likes to hang out in the Transformers/Star Wars figures area. I can be found near the Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. We have this ritual. he will go to the area that interests him and hang out there until he finds something he likes or he gets bored. Either way, he comes to find me...usually with a toy of interest in his mitts.

So I was squatting near the Jada cars, checking out a Chevelle with some really fat meats on it when I saw this woman pacing slowly up to me. She looked tired. Sometimes, you look into someone's face and you can tell what emotion it is. In her case, it was sadness. it was a sadness coupled with an extreme fatigue. She looked like she had been chain-smoking for the past week. She had cycles under her eyes. her t-shirt was wrinkled, and she was wearing those gray sweats that people who are letting themselves go wear.

She was on the phone, so her pacing was towards me, but not to me. Then I heard what she had to say to whomever it was on the other end of the line.

"...every bone in his face. They broke them all. He is in critical condition. They lifted him to Stanford by helicopter..."

Then I felt like I was in an alleyway watching some woman get naked and step into a shower. I felt that voyeuristic. There was nothing for me to say. I wanted to console her. I wanted to let her know that I too understand what it is like to have someone you love in a physically beaten state. I wanted to look her in the eyes and absorb her pain. I wanted to hold her and have her collapse into my arms and have her let go of the sobs that she was holding.

And here we were in Toys R Us. Toys R Us is like church for kids. Conversations about shattered faces should be kept outside. What was she doing with this noise pollution in this sacred hall of immaculate plastic? Her personal tragedy was big enough to transgress these halls.

I hoped no little kid with a penchant for something Kenner or Mattel or Hasbro heard what she was talking about.

But the conversation wasn't for me. I was very aware of the fact that if she saw that I was listening, she would probably be offended. She wouldn't know what I was about. She would think that I was just some dirty guy in an alley watching her run hot water and strip.

I grabbed the Chevelle and made my way over to the Transformers to see what Ivan was up to.