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Toy Vending Machine Memories

Among my earliest memories is going to the store with my mom and seeing this machine that was a clear box filled with plastic eggs and it had a mechanical chicken inside. At the time my favorite show was Mork and Mindy, and my mom used to give me the plastic eggs her pantyhose came in as toys and I would pretend they were Mork's spaceship. So when I saw this machine that dispensed toys inside plastic eggs, in my mind I saw myself getting 2 toys for the price of 1. Every time we went to the store I would ask for a quarter, but more often than not I was told no. But when I was allowed to have the coin, it was always a banner day. First, I got to see the chicken spin and cluck before my treasure was deposited in the slot. Then I got to open the egg and see the toy I got. It was usually a lump of silly putty or a plastic army man. Then lastly I had another egg to add to my growing Orkian space armada.

After we moved and started going to a different store, the toy vending machines became less exciting. No chickens putting on a show here, they were just boring red boxes filled with cheap junk. I would usually go for candy instead, and my cheap toy fix would get filled by cereal boxes. I did get quote a few "superballs" because something would always happen to them. They would get lost. The dog would chew them to bits. They would get taken away because I knocked over another lamp with them. I also like the ones with stickers, and still do. It was only a few years ago that I found one that had stickers of bears dressed like horror icons. I got Hannibal Lecter, Jason Voorhees and Pinhead. 

I have mentioned before that I went to school in another town, so I didn't really know anyone. As a result I spent a lot of time alone. And I went to a Christian school, where I was a bit of an outcast, so I was very backward when it came to the relations between men and women. Most of what I thought I knew I got from staying up all night watching old movies on t.v. But hormones were beginning to kick in and even though I had no clue what sex was I knew I wanted to have it. Now, this may seem a weird tack for a post about toy vending machines, but it ties in I promise.

I used to walk over to Wal-Mart during the summers to get my lunch from the deli there. One day on my way out I noticed that one of the machines had little miniature zippo lighters. They were 50 cents, double what those machines usually cost. But I could see myself using it to start campfires, light firecrackers, and all sorts of useful things. So I got one. I showed it off to all my friends, who were immensely jealous. Then one night I was watching an old movie, I don't remember what it was. But puberty was making it's presence known. Now in this movie everyone was smoking, as they are wont to do in old movies. I saw a guy light a woman's cigarette in one of those scenes that they used as metaphors for sex. And even though I didn't consciously know what the film makers were doing, my pubescent mind must have picked up on something, because I suddenly had an idea.

In those days I used to hang around outside the grocery store and help women carry their bags, and load their cars. They would give me a little change, which is how I was able to afford deli lunches and mini lighters. At that time too, it seemed like absolutely everyone over the age of 13 smoked. I was still just under that so I did not, but in my mind thanks to those old movies smoking and sex were somehow linked. So it occurred to me that I could go hang around outside of Wal-Mart, and when a women came out and pulled out a cigarette I would be on hand to light it for her. When she saw how debonaire I was she would overlook my mere 11 or 12 years of age and take me to her home and rock my world in some unspecified manner. I went and hung around, and while I was able to make some money carrying groceries, I did not get a chance to light a single cigarette, much less get my world rocked. But this marked a transition point in my life, where I became less interested in cheap toys and more interested in girls. But I'm sure there will be more on that later.


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