(Prior posting from my old webspace)
Elmo, A Tale Of Terror.
Every year, it occurs. A moment that can form tiny droplets of sweat across the forhead of the toughest adult. This state of anxiety will deepen, and worsen, until such time as a state of resignation, followed by hard won aquisition has occured.
It’s a vicious, dangerous road. One that will only reach a state of finality the day your offspring concludes they are too old for Saturday morning entertainment. At that juncture, it takes on the role of a very different beast, altogether.
But, my story, this hellish tale, born to the inferno deep below, began innocently enough with a giggle.
This giggle is a very powerful and bone chilling sound. It can put fear into the hearts of an entire nation of parents. There are few sounds that powerful, that chilling, on earth.
Giggles.. are most certainly the first drop of burning rain about to flood down from the heavens in God’s holy wrath for some misdeed you’ve participated in during your youth. And the person that would derive the greatest mirth from the situation you are about to be hauled into would be a grandparent. It’s your time to suffer, as they cackle hysterically while hanging up thier phone.
But, I digress.
This soul shuddering sound of a child giggling that certain way is soon followed by small, hoof falls. Sounds of thier tiny cloven hooves, and a forked tails slithering about behind this pint sized demon approaching the kitchen. You brace yourself.. knowing what’s coming.
“Elmo funny, WANT Elmo”. There it is. You’ve been slated for execution by department store. No amount of convincing or plying promises of better things is gonna get you out of this. It’s now an inevitability. Still, you try all the standard tricks in your toolkit.
You pull out all the stops. “Have you been good”?, “You didn’t play with the stamp collection I gave you last year” (this is precisely why you are so screwed…a ruined Christmas hope unfulfilled can cost you dealy later on, looks like Judgement Day) “Santa might not be able to, he’s pretty busy” all serve to make things worse. You live in hope the focus will change, but it’s August, the campaign has just begun.
As Saturday after Saturday rolls by, the determination of this child becomes bloodsport. It’s amazing how much power a small person has. If I could bottle it, man, I’d be able to wipe out any energy shortages in my home town.
At this point, the child is becoming ravenous. The commercials have worked him into a frenzy. There is NOTHING more important to them now than the aquisition of one red helliun with golf ball eyes. This spasmotic creature made out of bathmat has suddenly become the WORLD’S mission. No longer is your child the only one chiming. It’s now gearing up to be a holocaust of epic proportions.
It’s now Mid December. The time has finally arrived that you MUST do this thing. No one wants to, but for the sake of your sanity, and to avert the potential expense of many counsellors down the road, you raise the white flag, and surrender to it. You really haven’t any options. You might as well not ever come home again if you haven’t aquired your target. You might never come home alive, period. It’s a dog eat dog world.
So.. here’s the situation. We all know how it goes. Elmo is HOT. So hot, he’s unavailable. Supply far underestimated demand, and these fuzzy little cretins are now escalating in price, and are RARE finds.
You get a tip, though. Someone said that WalMart had a shipment in last night. Knowing a stockboy doesn’t hurt at this juncture. Bribe money only adds to the expense.
So, you get there early, so you thought. There are apparently MANY other people that got that same tip. Wait til I get my hands around his zitty little neck!
You go to the line, and you wait, patiently, like a warrior, for the doors to open. You note the people around you, try to guage the mood of the enemy, attempt to find an attack pattern that can gain you an advantage. You can smell the agression, and the desparation on yourself, and every single parent there.
This is not going to be a fine day at the mall. Many will suffer, few will triumph.
The promise of a door opening is now in your sites. The fearful look on the employees face says it all. She knows she’d better get out of the path of the door or she’s gonna be very sorry. She unlocks the door, and literally scampers off to the side, never to be thought of again that morning.
I see my path. I take it. I sprint as fast as I can move, surprised by my adrenalin rush, and beeline for the door. There are several people ahead of me, and I need to pump up the speed if I want to do this. So I sprint harder, trying to give myself a bit more edge, knocking over people and displays in the process. No time for pleasantries or apologies. This is war.
I finally spot the toy department, and frantically start looking for the displays. I find in my sights.. Mount Elmo.
It’s now all or nothing. I scurry as quickly as I can, and literally knock someone by the wayside in the attempt. A quick sorry doesn’t matter, it’s survival of the fastest. I get my hands upon a box, no time to inspect, it’s one of three left by the time I reach the isle.
Suddenly, I feel the box being tugged away from me. It’s an Italian woman with a furious look upon her face. She decided that she was more entitled to my win than I was, and much like seagulls and a scrap of bread, there is much agressive theiving in progress. A few very course words leave her lips as she tries again to obtain my prize. I promptly HAUL the box out of her claws, ripping the box in the process, throw a few love letters back her way, and then haul myself towards the cash as quickly as I possibly can.
Ripped box or not, I was one of the lucky ones. I see the look of pure malevolence on the faces of those that did not win this battle. The few are now the object of scorn by the many.
My title as the “Best Dad In The World” is now saved! I can handle the dirty looks. I feel much pity for them, actually. I know too well how thier childs face will look on that day, and don’t envy them thier task.
So, I ferret this thing into the trunk of my car, and drive it home. There, I set out to repair the box as best I could, and then wrap it.
The rest of the shopping is easy. I got the big headached out of the way.
So.. with days and days of “Elmo..me want” in the passing, we arrive at the moment of truth. Elmo meets Jansen for the very first time.
I could not have imagined such a happy moment in his young life. He REALLY loved this doll.
Boy, this is the part where Grandma gets to snicker. Cos Elmo just keeps on giving.
Elmo was wonderful. He did as advertised, and Jansen never even noticed the shred marks from Spagettio’s nails on the box. He flipped, he laughed, he jiggled, he spoke gibberish. He kept on keeping on.
It’s amazing how well built this little shite is, Unbreakable, as a matter of fact. And it is also amazing how long those batteries keep him operational. He just keeps GOING AND GOING AND GOING….
Jansen is PLEASED. Christmas is but a distant memory, and Elmo is STILL doing his thing. In fact, my eye has started to twitch.. just a little. I have a headache that is not abating. It starts with the first giggle, and amplifies from that moment on. Elmo is cutting through me like a deadly knife. I can feel him plotting my overthrow. Truly.
Week after relentless week, this toy continues, until ONE BLESSED DAY in Febuary, Elmo goes silent. Then, an even worse sound takes over.
Nothing is more jarring, inch by bloody inch, than a child crying over a dead toy. Elmo didn’t do ANYTHING anymore. He lies in state on the livingroom floor.
Part of me is dancing an Irish jig. I couldn’t be happier. But the parent in me is torn. Kid’s hurting, so I go to take a look.
It appears his batteries are dead. Simple fix. I find the flashlight, steal the batteries out of it, and BAM.. Elmo’s resurrection is complete.
Back to day after bloody day of his high pitched, annoying, soul ripping voice as he convulses all over my living room floor like an epilepsy victim with Turrets syndrome.
I get to a point where I cannot take one more moment of it. I’d have been better off as the BAD TERRIBLE Daddy. I now ENVY the many that did not win that December day. They don’t know how damned lucky they are.
So, that night, while everyone is sleeping, I go and I take a look at my little buddy, Elmo.
And I have a plan.
See, the happy thing about electronics is that there are circuits everywhere. Circuits are usually attached to wires. If you find the right one, certain things can occur.
I was about to perform a little vocal surgery on this lintbrush with eyes. I found his electronics box inside, pulled it out, and found his speaker. One penknife liberally sliced across on connection, and it was all over. Elmo was forever silenced.
The next morning, Jansen beelines for his bud. His bud did all the things he normally did with panache. He flipped, he jiggled, he shuddered (damned thing reminds me of our guinea pig getting off in his cage), but he was silent.
Tears well up in Jansens eyes. Elmo is sick!
I explain to Jansen that maybe he just had laryngitis, and not to worry, he’d probably be ok in a few days (all the while thinking he’d get used to the quiet, and my brain would start to form coherent sentences once again). But, Elaine, my reason for ducking, she smelled a rat.
Later that day, she decided to discuss with me about the sudden disappearance of one of Elmo’s features. She was curious how I could come to the conclusion that an electronic device could suffer from a human malais.
I explained that I wanted Jansen to feel hopeful about his buddy’s sudden “illness” and that it was probably just a worn circuit.
She didn’t buy it. Not for a second.
Couch is really uncomfortable. I can attest to that, first hand.
It’s funny how much more the silence got to me than the sound of that Prozac inspired doll did. I could take it for about an hour.
Finally, I caved. I told her “I’d have a look”. The ONLY thing I heard from her was “There had better be a smiling child and Elmo sounds happening soon, or I’d better get used to my new bed”.
So, I revisited my workbench, and went to resolder the wire. BAM.. instantly, I hear the sounds of a child BOUNDING down the stairs.
I told him Elmo shook his voice off, but that Daddy gave him some medicine, and he’s all better now. With squeals of delight, and a recriminating stare from HER (This was going to cost more than a night on the couch, trust me). we were back to my eye twitching, and my headaches reasserting.
Some say that silence is deafening. I’ll take the little red demon over it, any day!