I'm sure they had a better name, something fancy and worthy of their magically quality, but all I ever knew them as was: Magic Rocks. I would get a new box of them every summer. I could only get them in the summer, because the only place I could get them was Mattel's 5 & 10 on Circuit Ave in Oaks Bluffs. It was the toy store that always had anything I ever wanted.
So, each summer, I would amble on down there and buy a new box of the rocks, and then take them home. My Mother did grow tired of the rocks over the years, because every time I got them, it meant giving up one of her nice glass jars or bowls.
You see, this is how they worked: you took the "magically potion" out of the box, mixed it with water, and then put it in a large glass jar. Now, you had to be very careful in your selection of the jar. If it was too wide, the potion would be too shallow; if the jar was too narrow, there wouldn't be enough room for all the rocks to fit in the bottom.
This was the quandary every summer: which jar would my Mother sacrifice to my enjoyment? Eventually, she'd find one, we'd mix the "potion", and then pour it in. Next came the little rocks. Each was a different color, and were many colors, and they were very tiny. The instructions said to take about half a dozen of them, and drop them into the jar.
Now came the phase of the operation that was a little like watching paint dry! Yet, I never minded. No, to sit there, watching and waiting for the rocks to start growing; oh, for a boy of six or seven, that was sheer delight; at least back then.
Slowly but surely, the "rocks" would start to grow. They looked something like stalagmites, but without the stalactites above them. After they'd grown for a while, I could then add a few more rocks, and the process continued. Of course, the idea was to spread the different colors around and try to make the little "garden of stones" very artsy-looking. Me, I often loved to get the stones caught in the "branches" of some of the previous ones; those tended to grow in really weird directions. Sometimes the rocks wouldn't land in just the right location, but I never dared stick my fingers in the water to move them. Why, I had no idea what that potion might do to my skin! It was too terrifying a prospect to contemplate.
Still, they usually ended up looking okay. Again, for a little boy - major cool!
Finally, when all done putting the stones in, and they were all grown, I'd take the jar and set it on the dresser of my bedroom, right by the window. Every night, I'd look at it before bed, and every morning, the sunrise would catch the colors so perfectly. Of course, it was a little like a plant; I had to water it regularly to keep the level up high enough. Although, I never did understand why I had to do that; I just accepted that it was important.
Looking back, I realize how good it was of my Mother to give up one of her good glass jars for my little "indulgence". After all, once you put those magic rocks in there, the jar was ruined forever. And, I also find it rather funny that something so simple, so basic, and so low-tech could so entertain me.
Some people might pooh-pooh such a simple toy, and say that today's kids are far too sophisticated to enjoy it. You know what? I'd say they're absolutely right; today's kids would scoff at such a toy.
Isn't that sad?
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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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