This morning, when all I wanted to do was sleep in, my woman made me go grocery shopping because for the last few weeks I have been letting my food stores dwindle; little by little I have been progressively (or regressively) getting by with less and less until most recently, with no fruit or granoly bars left I had to resort to snacking on crackers topped with Dijon mustard. So this is what rock bottom feels like.
Having not gone grocery shopping in a couple of weeks I was perhaps more receptive to the whole experience and noticed things I formerly did not. Or perhaps there has been some shift in priorities among the nation’s children that I missed, but when did this start happening?
Gas Cards? In cereal? Like f’real for real? It all just seems a little lame sauce to me. I know if I was a kid and I got even a thousand dollar gas card I would have been vexed. Now in fairness, they were giving these prizes away in “Family Size” boxes, technically marketed to the adults of the family as well, but axe yourself: if you were a kid and your parents got a prize in the cereal, even a prize you didn’t want, and you got nothing, would you would or would you wouldn’t be pissed?
I remember a simpler time when I used to get excited for the junk they would toss in with cereal. More excited than for Happy Meal toys. I suppose with a happy meal you are guaranteed a toy that is all yours, but with cereal prizes I had four siblings I had to contend with for first dibs which created a higher demand. As well, I got to a certain age where my parents deemed me to old to be in contention for cereal prizes even though I still wanted them. More than once, they handed my youngest brother or sister the toy and the vile offspring would look at me smugly while my incendiary rage burned and I plotted their untimely demise.
What was the all-time best cereal toy I ever got? That’s a tough one but if pressed, I would say the “Crazy Straws” contained in Cinnamon Toast Crunch back in the mid-90s. They were a completely modular set of straws of various shapes that could be attached together to make drinking a beverage the wacky and zany experience it was always meant to be. The problem, if I can be so presumptuous as to presume that this pinnacle of plastic cereal box junk perfection may have in fact been flawed, was that only one straw segment came in each box, and that simply did not cut it for me. For starters the segment was far too short, forcing me to stick my face into my glass when the lacteal fluid dropped past a certain level. As well, each straw brought something unique in the way of shape: some were spirals, some were loops and others were simply bent in odd ways. (Each segment had its own “thing” if you will) So for someone like me who wanted to put his milk through every possible obstacle to ensure that it earned the right to be in his mouth (I do the same with women), with only one segment, I was only giving the milk one hoop to jump through.
Of course I could always buy more CTC once I finished my current box but because I only had it at my Dad’s house (Moms wouldn’t buy that shit) and I only visited him every other weekend I had no hope of finishing the box before the promotion ended. Have you ever been stuck with a four inch segment of straw that is completely inadequate? I imagine its like having an inadequate penis of similar length. But while the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Crazy Straws are still something of a sore topic for me I am careful not to let my bitterness detract from my esteem for them.
I have to give an honourable mention to my next favourite cereal prize of all-time: Glow in the Dark Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles temporary tattoos. I don’t recall which cereal carried these bad boys but my Nonna (yeah, Im part wop) saved some up for me and I put radical phrases such as “RADICAL” up and down my arms like it was cool. I think my pride and joy was the “COWABUNGA” I had on the back of my hand between my thumb and index finger like a prison tattoo.
Where the fuck did you get that placa, Little Bo Peep?
The inherent flaw in this prize was its temporarity (sic). TMNT ruled my childhood years and when I had these tattoos I was at a point in life where I would have willingly fellated a turtle…or at least permanently tattoed “Turtle Power” on my dick … in all caps. I was enamoured with the whole TMNT mythology that I even wanted to go down into the sewers to see if they were there. That’s right I wanted to go down to where people’s shitpiss goes so I could look for mutated turtles. My uncle, hoping to disabuse me of this inkling took me for a walk to a manhole cover near my grandparents’ Woodbridge home. As I peered down the holes of the cover I hoped in earnest, and even half-expected, that the ninja turtles would reveal themselves to me, regardless of the fact that we were in the suburbs of north Toronto and they probably had crime to fight … and also they were ninjas who specialized in not being seen. But I guess in spite of everything that I believed then, and still do, I just was not that special. And the turtles, if they were there, saw fit not make their presence known to me.
I would have stared down that manhole all day but my uncle, likely saddened by the realization that his nephew was none too bright, forced me to go back to the house for lunch which I grudgingly ate while I watched the last remnants of my ninja turtle tattoos flake away.
I must make a dishonourable mention for what I felt to be the most lacking cereal prize ever: Star Trek Deep Space Nine stamps. Where do I even start here? It was a rubber stamp which would impress the likeness of one of your favourite Star Trek: DS9 characters on paper or skin. Favourite is a relative term in this instance, kind of like talking about your favourite STD. Well, the geniuses who sent the stamps out forgot to include an inkwell so they were effectively useless. After all, who wants a cereal prize that you have to sink more money into. To compound matter further, my effectively useless stamp was not crafted to resemble the likeness of someone even borderline cool like Commander Sisko or a Cardassian, but instead it was this guy:
Constable fucking Odo! He looks like sunken-eyed grandmother for christsakes. What made General Mills (I’m pretty sure it was a Honey Nut Cheerios promo) think any kid would want this? In retrospect, not having ink was probably a good thing, cause really who wants the image of this guy all over their paper and body?
In retrospect I suppose I can’t be that mad about Odo; after all, I could have gotten nothing. The problem was that my expectations were too high and for a while I let my preferences for the prize determine the cereal I bought, leaving me with a useless piece of plastic and a cereal I was often not crazy about. I guess shopping for toys in the cereal aisle is like going for lunch at a titty bar: It’s not really why you’re there so don’t expect much.