Happy birthday, Slinky…

Last Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the toothache felt around the world…  I can’t believe how far we’ve come since then, and how Slinky has managed to travel the whole distance with us.  A whole year.  More than 365 days because, well, Slinky the Current had taken the place of Slinky the Previous shortly before the Big Tooth-Do…(get it?  A play on To Do…  Never mind.  It sounded pretty funny in my head.)

A few days ago I was (almost obsessively) looking for an old picture of Dada that almost exactly matches a picture I found among the thousands of slides I transferred last year.  It’s quite silly, in fact, but I wanted to see them side-by-side.  In the very old picture, Dada is about eight, and sits at the dining table in his parents’ house, sipping juice from a cup with a funny expression on his face.  The picture I was looking for was taken the summer before last, and Dada is sipping a cocktail with the same expression on his face.  The only differences between both pictures are the amount of hair on Dada’s head, the alcohol present in the more recent drink, and that one was taken in California in 1970 while the other was taken in 2012 in West Virginia.  Aside from that…pretty funny.

Anyway…I digress.

While I was looking for THAT picture, I found -of course- hundreds, thousands of others that triggered memories.  Among them?  Slinky the First.  His reign was brief.  I believe he met his demise in a tangle, and had to be quickly replaced with Slinky the Second and so forth until we lost count.  After a while, Slinky the Current was the name we gave all of them until they were no more; they then become Slinky the Previous.  When I tell you that Slinky the Current is the Queen Victoria of Slinkys, you have to believe this.  Never before had we had such a long and stable reign out of one of these helical springs, and he doesn’t look like he’s anywhere near ready to give up his throne.  There are, count ’em, TWO Slinkys stored in a closet for “emergencies,” but J’s loyalty to Slinky the Current is solid.

I will remind you (or inform you, depending on how recently you started reading my stream of consciousness) that when we took J to the dentist that February morning because of his night-long (and long night) toothache, Slinky the Current was still in the first shine of his youth.  Recently removed from the box, he didn’t yet have that dingy dark gray appearance that permeates all Slinkys that have been in contact with sweaty hands for a while.  It was there, at the dentist’s office, that J (in his fear and anxiety) brandished  Slinky as a defensive weapon, and Slinky the Current suffered a noticeable injury to one of his coils.  Slinky the Current, no longer Slinky the Pristine, got slightly bent.

Perhaps it was that they’d been through a lot together that day, but J didn’t want Slinky replaced when we came back from the dentist.  He didn’t want him replaced when we had to go back for surgery TWICE in the span of a month.  Slinky waited for him, like a loyal puppy, while he was under for the whole dental D-Day J experienced last summer.  Slinky the Current has been left behind at home when we’ve gone shopping; Slinky the Current has fallen under furniture; Slinky the Current has gone to school, to the movies, to the doctor.  Slinky the Current is parked on the lid to our chest freezer while J does his Wii exercises.  Slinky the Current is parked on the “Slinky parking blocks” that are in the bathrooms, and on the kitchen counter.  J knows that there are two back-up Slinkys in the hallway closet, but he doesn’t want them…he wants Slinky the Current…

We lived through the affaire du coeur with the boxing gloves.  We know the hats are a fixture.  We are fully accustomed to Raggedy Ann, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, and so forth.  In a household that has seen Slinkys come and go like the Playboy Mansion witnesses the arrival and departure of scantily-clad women, Slinky the Current’s staying power is a sight to behold.  He is a member of the family, as it were…

I know that, eventually, J will maybe outgrow Slinky…the Current, and all the others that will follow.  He outgrew the balloons, the boxing gloves…  Until this happens, I’m just glad that he didn’t let a bad experience and a kink on a helical spring ruin what has become a beautiful relationship.  I’m glad that J overlooked that one flaw (that he caused with his Indiana Jones-like antics,) and that there has been continuity with this Slinky.  I’m glad Slinky sits there while J has his dinner that now includes vegetables.  I’m glad that Slinky was there for the guardianship hearing, the psychiatrist appointments, the times when J has been in trouble and got a time-out.  I feel bad when part of the time-out involves handing Slinky over to me.  I am kind to Slinky…he is the nicest pet J has ever had! He doesn’t overeat and barf on the carpet; he doesn’t need a litter box; he doesn’t require being taken out for a walk.  He sleeps in J’s bed, and doesn’t push the boxing gloves out of the way because he’s humble and knows the more inanimate objects the merrier…

I won’t go so far as to bake a cake, but…if Slinky the Current could eat, I’d ask him what kind of cake and if he wants ice cream on the side.  I won’t try to clean him, or spray him with Lysol.  There is a certain dignity to his dingy appearance, and J loves him just the way he is.  So we will never have the pile of bicycles in the driveway and the tromping of feet on the stairs towards the basement; we will never see a car pull away with J waving distractedly at us.  But we have Slinky the Current, and that seems to work just fine…

 

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