I'm sure they had a proper name, I just don't remember it. So, for me, they shall always be the "Goop Monsters". I got the kit for Christmas one year; I must have been about six or seven, and believe me - I got my parents' money's worth out of that toy! Looking back, I realize it couldn't exist today; it would violate about a dozen health and safety codes. Yet, somehow, I survived.
It was a very simple little gizmo actually. The main part was a base that plugged in, and then it heated up. Now, here were the first series of safety concerns. It had no on and off switch or thermostat. You plugged it in, it got hot - real hot, and that was it! It also lacked any sort of protective cover to keep small hands from touching the hot part. Again, the fact that all ten of my fingers are intact today is nothing short of a miracle. Into that base, one at a time, were placed the metal molds. I used a little gripper to get them out when they were hot, and then set them in a bowl of water to cool. And finally, there was the actual "goop", the liquid-y stuff I poured into the molds. It came in different colors, and I'm sure it was quite toxic - if taken internally.
So, this now leads to the big question: what were the molds for? Well, as the title of this little tale suggests, they were monsters; a variety of dragons. I poured the different colored goop into the molds, heated until they were firm, cooled them, and then popped the body parts out. After that, it was a little like the classic: "put tab A into slot B" routine. And when I was done, I had a bright and colorful little dragon of some sort that just about fit perfectly in the hand of any child.
My friends and I spent hours pouring different colors, mixing them, and watching them bake. Next health concern: we used to stand over the little heater and sniff the fumes - again, quite toxic, I'm sure. Sometimes we messed up, we cooked the goop too long and it bubbled and cracked. Other times we put too much in, and it ran all over the mold and made a mess. Oh, and then there were the times when we got so very artistic. We'd put drops of blue in for the eyes, let them cook a minute, and then add some red for the nose, some orange for the lips, and green for the face. We got so we could make quite the fancy little monsters.
And now, here I am today, whole and hearty; I managed to survive that deadly contraption unscathed. As for the goop monsters, out of all the ones I created over the years, I haven't a one to show for it. Yet, I still remember that... that dangerous, lift-threatening, health-code-violating, simple, stupid glorified heating pad!
There's an old joke that kids tend to have more fun with the box that a present comes in, than the actual gift itself. The more I see the fancy and high-tech gizmos of today, the more I relish my memories of the "ancient" and "primitive" toys of my youth. There's a lot to be said for the simple joys of childhood.
Click here for more by AJ Robinson.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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