Boy Toys

My friendship with Billy is old enough to drive a car. In fact, it’s almost old enough to buy a round of beers. He and I have been laughing with (and at) each other for more than eighteen years.

We met the month after we both graduated from the same high school. I don’t remember seeing him in high school at all. Then again, I was quite preoccupied during that time. All my energy was directed at mooning over a particularly artsy poetic type who dressed like Jim Morrison but looked more like Alfred E. Newman. I also did a lot of mooning over the computer wiz who would become my husband many years later. (You say “geek.” I say “marriage material.”)

But I digress. The point is, for whatever reason, Billy and I didn’t meet until we graduated. And that’s fine with me, because we still managed to share our childhood.

While the cool kids did whatever it is cool kids do, we were singing along with Dr. Demento and playing board games like Stratego and Risk. Unfortunately, Risk requires three people, and it was difficult at times to enlist his brother or one of his sisters to play along with us. The reason for their reluctance was that Billy was and is, shall we say, a wee bit too competitive at certain games.

But, our favorite pastime by far was one we kept as secret as possible from everyone, siblings included. I won’t need to explain our reasons for keeping it under wraps when you find out what it is.

So, as soon as we had the privacy we required, I’d say to Billy, “Get out the stuff” and he would respond by pulling a large linen bag from a wooden shelf and dumping its contents onto the painted concrete floor of the basement.

This floor was perfect for our purposes. It offered a huge space on which to set up our respective armies. Our armies were of the plastic variety. But, they weren’t the cheaply made toy soldiers of today. No. These were made of good thick plastic and they had solid foundations under them. These babies could stand up even on shag carpet! That’s whut I’m talkin’ ’bout!

Hell, you can’t even breath on the ones I’ve seen in recent years or they’ll fall right over. Whatever happened to craftsmanship in toy making?

Um, where was I?

Oh yes, so after we set up our troops on opposite sides of the room, we’d take turns rolling our marbles at each other’s armies. Whichever of us lost all of his/her soldiers first was declared the loser and the game was over.

But, the central thought that keeps coming back to me in regard to our silly game is that it had to start somewhere.

This means that, at some point in our relationship, Billy courageously pulled out a bag of toy soldiers in the hope that I wouldn’t laugh at him for very long and that we’d get a kick out of playing with them together. If that doesn’t prove that he’s the best kind of friend there is, I don’t know what could.

Comments 3

  • Debbie, I had to laugh at this. I have lamented the loss of well-made small plastic figurines too, many many times. To the point where some friends finally bought me a plastic bag of farm animals as a birthday gift joke years ago.

    It wasn’t soldiers for me and my friends, no, but tiny plastic horses. Not only were the horses much more *real* looking (you could even see their nostrils flaring and muscles bulging) but they often came with fork-legged riders that came on and off. We’d make the horses buck the riders off *often*. You could buy separate faux-leather tack as well! And everybody stood up on their own, even the bowlegged cowboys.

    Now you get green sheep and red horses and nothing stands up, even on linoleum. It’s a crime!

  • I was going to laugh at you for your silly toy soldier fetish, but I have a shoebox full of dozens of meticulously hand painted, airbrushed, and weathered pewter Battletech miniatures. At $5 to $50 each, they took a good 2 to 3 hours each to finish. That’s what I get for working at a hobby shop during my adolescent years. 🙂

  • “a wee bit too competitive at certain games.”

    I used to flip the board over when playing Monopoly with my sister and landed on a hotel.
    Another of my favorite pastimes was the good ole’ game of using your checkers set to see who can flick out the other guy’s pieces off the board first.

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