Vol. 2, Issue 23, June 8, 2004
Education for the Otiose
The Sleaze

Beware Graybeards Buying Gifts

Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq.

I am Fortunate in having a Tobacconist who is at once Knowledgable and Discreet, a true Gentleman of the old cut who is ever ready with a Quip and the latest results from the Track. I am quite Fond of the fellow, who as it so Happens is approximately Ephram's age. I see in him the spark of Hope in our nation's Youth which is, alas, at times somewhat Difficult to discern in my own nephew, for all that I have Scrutinized him most Carefully.

One difference in this young Man is that he has a fine All-American Family: a lovely Wife and a strapping little Lad who shall turn Two years old this coming week. And so yesterday I set aside my laborious Editorial duties, donned my second-best silk Hat, and set forth on an Errand: to procure a Gift for the little boy's birthday. Ah! Such a delight to shop with such purity of Purpose.

Now, the lad being Two, the usually safe gifts of fine Scotch or Tobacco are out of the question, so I determined to locate the finest Toy-store about. Though it has been long since I dandled a child on my knee, well do I remember the Bright Eyes and fine American spirit that suffuses the little fellows. Two is a Fine age to be, it seems to be - there are virtually No ambiguities in life, and while the trauma of a dropped Toy or delayed Treat is terribly Profound, so too is it Transient - and one's Pleasures are absolute. Adults lose the marvelous Capacity of the very young to exist utterly in the Moment, being too burdened by our own Pasts and knowledge of our Futures. It is a Pity.

I entered the Toy-Store, thinking perhaps a set of hand-carved wooden Blocks might be just the Ticket for an active boy, or perhaps a Hoop and a Stick, or even a Kite. But I thought at first I had entered the wrong Establishment, for there were no such things to be Found. By Saint Eustace's Beard, the place was a complete Riot of color and sound! I had to fortify myself with a few drams from my Walking-stick Flask before continuing.

Here, then, was a brightly colored Bakelite dino-saur of some sort or Other. But great Scott! - the thing Moves when you Approach! I prodded it most Carefully with my stick: a Mistake, as it turns out, for the wretched creature began to Sing at me. I know not What manner of Edison-Phone they had concealed within its lurid purple Torso, nor whence the treacly song - if so it could be Called - had been Dredged; but I was seized with an Immediate and Strong compulsion to make it Stop at All Costs. Polite Requests were of no Avail, there were no Strings to pull or visible Gears to jam with a Pipe-stem. This was becoming urgent: how on Earth to stop the thing? If only my Hearing was not so Acute!

At last I had a Solution, for I have observed that modern Technology is marvelously sensitive to the merest Hint of malt whisky. Carefully then, and with an Eye cast about for interfering Store-Clerks, I gave the little prehistoric Monstrosity a drink from my Flask, thinking thereby to Drown the tinny horror of its Voice exhorting all in earshot to Love and Hug one another. But I was Foiled in my attempt! Too late did I see the dreadful words imprinted on the Package - "Water-Resistant." What had I unleashed?

It was a long Hour before I extricated myself from that place, having been obliged to Explain and pay for some minor Damage which unfortunately Ensued during some judicious Application of my Walking-Stick. It took me the Afternoon to recover. Ah, parents of today - I do not Envy you. I have purchased the lad a Book instead: which I should have done in the First place. I only hope his other toys are Quiet long enough for him to Enjoy it.


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