Past Toys that Bring a Present Sense of Peace


We may not have the same emotions that came like a volcanic eruption at the age of seven when opening up that mysterious package on Christmas morning. Adulthood may have taken some of the raw sensitivity out of the experience. But we still remember how it felt. Wouldn’t it be incredible to be an adult while enjoying those same unfettered, beautiful emotions from our childhood days of yore?

I am not sure whether this counts as a toy, but perhaps the greatest childhood thrill came from finally owning my coveted Super Nintendo Entertainment System at the age of ten in the middle of fifth grade. Since the age of six I had groveled and pleaded for such an extravagant device from my mother/father who wisely refused. They knew the poison of addiction would immediately grip my life, and it would be all that I would ever do. I would not be surprised if there are Rehab Clinics specifically for people who are addicted to video games especially with the invention of World of Warcraft on the Internet.

Until the Super Nintendo entered my household, my video game playing was limited to occasional trips to arcades in which happiness cost a quarter for just a few minutes of beautiful fun. It might as well have been a brothel for pre-teenagers in the form of virtual sustenance! There was also the trips to the home of a family friend on Christmas Day when the adults relented and finally allowed me to monopolize their older boys' Nintendo Entertainment System much of the time. According to my father, my sister and me were not easy children. But in fifth grade there seemed to finally be a break in the chaos. My behavioral issues were dramatically improving, and it was no longer necessary for me to see a childhood therapist. It was easier to justify receiving a reward for this amazing improvement.

I remember the first day the Super Nintendo was set up in my family’s basement. The system came with a free game, which was absolutely awesome. The game was Super Mario’s World that introduced a new character named, Yoshi! Yoshi was a green donkey-like being with a long tongue that could snatch levitating apples. I liked the game because it was possible to beat, and I played the game until the bitter end. If I could speak to that young child, one of the things that I would probably tell young Jesse is that his time would be better spent trying to play outdoor games or building social skills that were undeveloped at the time. But back then it was all I wanted to do and video games took me all the way to the moon. It made perfect sense at the time. The other game that was purchased along with the Super Nintendo was "Bart's Nightmare" in which he falls asleep before completing his school report and has to capture pages in nightmarish dream worlds.

There are currently video game manufacturers trying to capitalize on the long-buried addiction by introducing the Nintendo Classic Console that contains many classic games on a smaller replica of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Once in a while, I visit the Best Buy at the Crossgates Mall just to see if they have any of the consoles in stock. Unfortunately, the visits always lead to disappointment because they never have any of them available. When a small supply does come into the store it is usually bought by other customers who rush in like a mob scene. Perhaps it is better that the store is always out of the entertainment system because if I were foolish enough to hook it to my plasma television it would be all I would want to do all day long...again.

There are not too many toys that I still play with as an adult. The closest is Play-Doh, which was purchased at CVS a while back. The scent and feel of it helped me survive a transition into a new position at my company. The nostalgia of it was very comforting because it made a difference to have something timeless and familiar during a time of intense unfamiliarity. Something I also like to do is look at toy photos on a 1980s Facebook page without the temptation to go crazy on Ebay purchases. When I think about why the Super Nintendo was so addicting I realize it could have been due to the fact that life did not offer the same breaks as the virtual world. There was no real life "Boss Villain" who could be toppled after trying again and again. Real life problems did not have a "Replay" option with chances to do things different again and again. Perhaps the reason video games have taken a backseat to reality is due to the fact that my once-desperate and pathetic realities living with Asperger's syndrome have finally changed for the better...

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