When you are a child, the world is a magical place, a place of mysteries and promise. And when you are a child, you tend to believe things as they are presented. Without question. I was thinking about some of the more commercial disappointments of my childhood… the ads or commercials that made something look so cool to me, but once experienced, just didn’t live up the hype. Here’s a list of a few of this things.
I ordered these as a child. Notice the illustrations? See the happy family gathered around the fish bowl, watching the very visible sea-monkeys frolic and play? Not so much. Once the packet of eggs hatched, there were tiny specks, jerkily moving through the water. Most died, but I had two or three that lived to maturity, growing to about 1/2 inch in size. I later realized that these were just brine shrimp, which of course, look nothing like the picture in the ad.
For some reason, I bought Spencer some Sea-Monkeys a year ago. He was equally unimpressed and the last one finally died a couple of months ago. No one noticed for a while.
I was 8 years old. Yeah, I believed this ad. They didn’t work, but they did succeed in making anyone wearing them look like a complete psycho pervert, with the swirly cardboard eye-pieces. “Hilarious Optical Illusion”, indeed.
So much going on… I just didn’t get it. Clowns – their faces made up in some grotesque exaggeration of joy, just looked creepy and sinister to me. (They still do). A guy walking a tightrope for no apparent reason except to show he can do it. My mother had told me to be quiet as I yelled “Get down! Get Down!” I wasn’t trying to make him fall… it was just that I saw there was a ladder on the other side, so if he wanted to get there, he could just climb up it. No need to go across the rope. The animal acts just made me sad and seemed cruel… making tigers jump through hoops of fire. Elephants walking on their hind legs. The whole thing was a spectacle of abnormality.
Darling Pet Monkey!
Yep. I ordered this. It was a cheap rubber monkey. The included “cage” was really a cardboard box I could cut parts out of to make fake looking bars. “Loads of fun and amusement.”
So I ordered my “25 live sea horses.” What arrived was ONE supposedly pregnant pygmy male sea horse, who might give birth to as many as 25 babies. It was so badly traumatized by being sent through the US mail in a plastic tube with about 4 oz of water in it, he died shortly after he arrived. I felt terrible about this.
Look at this kid holding a fist-full of dollars. “Make $1 to $6 weekly!” and the free prizes… bikes. Fishing poles. Radios.
The fact was I paid more for the papers I was selling than I ever made, most of which I sold to my sympathetic family, and I never got any of the free prizes. I bailed on Grit pretty quickly and it was good life-lesson for me.