Saturday, April 7, 2007

Pink in a boy's world

Centre - art by alastair tattersall

Helping my lady and my son clean up his room yesterday I came across his number 20 car amongst the hundreds of toy cars strewn all over his floor. It's a kinda cheap toy, just a tin really. It was a birthday present from a cousin that was filled with lollies (candy) and now makes a sweet pencil case. It's beaten a bit and fairly scratched, so it looks more like the real thing now than when he got it.

It was a funny present because it would have come from a shipment of 'assorted' ends of line crap and been sold at The Warehouse, which is similar to Wal Mart or Target. NASCAR is not huge in New Zealand by any means, don't let anyone tell you different. It's growing, but it's a tiny following.

Anyway, it's funny because Smoke is my favourite driver and this was probably part of a whole bunch of shit that never sold somewhere else in the world. What's the odds?

It reminded me of another 'find' I had at The Warehouse. A few years ago I found a whole bunch of Hot Wheels sized NASCAR die-casts from 1998. I managed to get half a dozen, including Dick Trickle, which I don't know if his name is funny in America, but it sure as hell brings tears to my eyes.

I scored a Mark Martin car, Sterling Marlin's car, a Bill Elliot and a 'race-damaged' Jeff Burton car. There is another one, but I can't remember who right now and they're down in my workshop/shed on the wall above the bar.

These toys had been somebody's elses unwanted stock somewhere and had found their way to me here in little old Aotearoa (New Zealand). Fucking sweet. I think I paid a buck each for them and Dick Trickle has brought no end of light relief to my shed parties.

No disrespect to Dick meant at all, I remember him still racing when I first started seeing NASCAR on a regular basis, but his parents should have stopped and thought a little bit before calling him Richard.

Maybe there's some other story behind his name, but I like the little myth I've created.

Coming across the 20 car also reminded me that boy's toys are the shit. 300 odd toy cars of various sizes, colours, ages and shapes, dump trucks, a toy tool kit (like the one in dad's workshop), hundreds of awesome books, some cool art gear and all the usual detritus that goes along with kids' toys.

I know it's important to let my daughter 'be a girl', but when I take her to The Warehouse going into the pink aisle makes my skin crawl. Not because I'm afraid it's gonna make me gay or soft or something, but because of much of what constitutes 'girls' toys'.

A plastic oven with plastic frying pans and plastic steaks; a pink see-through vacuum cleaner that really 'whirrrrrssss' (big fucking deal), makeup kits with some slutty teenager on the front with barely any clothes on and a 'realistic' doll that actually shits and pukes and cries when it needs feeding!

I had assumed this kind of crap had been outlawed years ago.

The boy's aisle is full of DOING stuff: Kites, science sets, footballs, frisbees, bikes and such. The girl's aisle just plain sucks. Thankfully she's as smart as a pin and loves reading, writing and doing art.

Girls are gonna get to do enough domestic drudge in their lives as it is, why start when they are kids? It's fucking depressing.

Then again, maybe all the toys in the pink aisle are the shit that everybody else in the world didn't want and it's ended up here. Proving there is hope and we're just 10 years behind the times. I hope so.

Either way, tidying my son's room reinforced to me, yet again, that it's great to be a guy. We've got the best toys and the coolest posters, 'finding more horsepower' is in our DNA and our ability to do stupid things never diminishes with age.

As I like to remind my lady as often as possible: "NEVER underestimate my ability to do something stupid."

And bless her, she doesn't.

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