This post is dedicated to Brandi Barnett
The little kid in the red shirt? This was his birthday party.
The little kid in the overalls? That's my son Conor.
All the little kids were at the pizza place for a birthday party.
The little kid with the hood, Jonathon, is staring deep into the maw of the machine.
These little boys could not resist its siren call.
Its sparkly geegaws, its fuzzy stuffed animals with bent whiskers, its trucker hats and fake tattoos and
right smack dangnabit in the middle a fancy teeny remote control car. And there hanging over it all like
some type of cross between a big silver spider and a little Crane proclaiming you the winner if you
could master it was "THE CLAW."
It was hypnotic like a swinging watch on a chain.
These were the generation of the movie "Toy Story."
They knew the power of "The Claw."
If you held that lever in your hand and could press that button just right you were the champion who
flew the failing plane with seats full of little dollies into safety on the runway, the king who vanquished
the Dragon covered bumper stickers, the helicopter pilot flying over and grabbing the little brown teddy
bear named Foster out of harms way. If you could just do it...just right.... that PRIZE in the center was
yours. YOU WERE CAPTAIN AWESOME and you got that remote control toy.
Those were the fevered dreams of those tiny little boys who gazed into the Plexiglass front of that
machine. Oh how they begged for money to place into that slot and feed the beast. They pleaded,
cajoled, whined, batted eyelashes and used their very best "I'm a pitiful orphan" face on the adults. But
alas, not even the grandma who was always good for caving in to the whims of an almost three year
old, even she said "No it would be too hard you will never get your little hands to win anything."
But one little boy could not tear himself away from that view, smudged with nose smears, hand prints,
and other unsanitary shmutz at little kid level eyesight. Not even the call of cake and ice cream could
get his attention. Because in his little brain he was hatching "THE PLAN". He had given that machine
the once over and saw a way to get that toy without money. He would not even need that claw. He
would become one with the machine and become the claw his ownself.
The adults were busily dishing out sweets and tending to the birthday boy and other little ones running
around creating a distraction which only aided this fellow in his plot. No one noticed as he popped
open the big flap on the front where all the goodies would come out, the mouth of the machine if you
will. He pushed it open and then proceeded to work arms and hands inside and up where he grabbed
the edge of the shaft and headed up to that pot of gold, rising to the opening it was just RIGHT
THERE as he got his head almost through...
Then all of a sudden someone said "Where is Conor?" "OH MY GOD!" someone cried as all they
could see were the bottom of his shoes getting ready to disappear into the flap. A quick grab of that little
ankle and a couple of gentle tugs and he was birthed out of disaster onto his butt in front of the
Oh he was in so much trouble!
Oh the cries of
"You could have got stuck in the slot!"
"You would have smothered!"
"You could have got stuck all UP INSIDE OF THE BOX!"
"What if we had to call the fire department!"
*Oh darn thought all the single girls we might have to see some cute fireman.*
But the biggest and scariest thought of all was,
"Your Mother would have killed us."
All eyes turned to the Daddy man.
He knew they were all thinking of a conspiracy of silence.
But he didn't do it because he knew what would happen when he told me. I laughed and laughed at the
thought of Conor being pulled out of that machine by his foot and all the Ladies and Grandmas and
Aunties and kids looking on in shock and awe at the kid who almost conquered