This is a simple column by a complex woman.  
Dumb-asses need not apply.
If you flatter yourself to be
a bright spot in the universe
and aren't offended by "psychotic breaks,"
If you're a little frightened, well, all the better.
We kinda like you like that... with hot sauce.

“the greatness (and the curse) that

is the McDonald’s Happy Meal toy”


“accumulation is a lost art when you’re not working”


Hello Kitty is gonna be the death of me. 

That’s the current Happy Meal toy of the week at McDonald’s. The previous week, I tried hunting around in vain for any sign of the Hot Wheels cars that the chain ran out of all across Washington state early on. And prior to that, I had to collect every one of the signature collector’s item—Beany Baby Bears made especially for the fast food corporation (I managed to scrounge, wheedle, bribe and barter all but four). 

The toys aren’t for my 2-plus-year-old son, James, they’re for me, so shut up. 

My fascination (obsession) with the toys that come in Cracker Jack boxes, cereal boxes, when you mail in box tops and soup can labels, or in the backs of my Archie Andrews comic books started about three years older than James is now. 

Yes, I was the kid who’d empty an entire box of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes into the toilet and flush, just to grab at the little plastic ring (with a funny cartoon character stickered in place of a diamond) in the little plastic bag in the corner of the box... the kid who’d break one of many piggy banks just to get at the tinkling coins so she could get at as many boxes of Cracker Jacks as possible from the nearby convenience store in hopes she could find a really cool prize that wasn’t a stick of gum, a piece of paper with a smiley face on it, or something else equally lame. 

I loved to waste my parents’ money trying to get at a shiny, golden bauble in one of those bubble gum machines, too. 

A near-40-year-old memory prevents me from rattling off a list of my favorite little toys, although I favored anything in the medical and detective careers. But I can tell you that at the time, I really believed I’d stumbled onto an incredible find that would be worth millions as an adult, or, at the very least, provided show-off value to all my friends in a neat, tidy vast collectible display in my bedroom. 

It wasn’t so much the prize, as the accumulation of the prizes, preferably in groupings. I used to buy up a variety of stickers (but I liked the soft, mushy squeaky button ones best) to put in my home-made album – sheets of waxed paper stapled together in book form. 

And the collections always seemed to get lost in a variety of moves during my children, lost and forgotten until the next fad set me off. 

As a grown-up, I switched to stuffed animals, rabbits specifically (my boyfriend/fiancé during my college years was heavily into drawing self-portraits as cute little hopeless bunnies in various states of copulation), and Coca-Cola memorabilia, bottles and the like. 

My house is littered with Coke bottles of every size, actual to gargantuan, bunnies mix in with bears and cartoon characters on every step up and down the stairs, in every nook and cranny of my bedroom, James has appropriated quite a few. 

With James around, I can use him as an excuse to secretly indulge in my stuffed animals and dolls. Many a time, as a newfound mother, I’d head into the Disney or Hallmark store, catch the eye of a super-sized Stanley, a fuzzy lap-sized version of Tinky Winky, or a vibrating, singing Blue, and snatch ‘em up, saying to James, and myself, that it’s for him to play with. Uh huh. 

Once, about two months ago, I walked into a Toys-R-Us, I think to purchase a birthday gift for a friend’s four-year-old boy, and wound up staring longingly at this realistic-looking baby doll in the little girls’ section. I almost bought her; she resembled the kind of doll I always wanted but either my parents couldn’t find it in stores or didn’t wanna bother looking for it for me. I also almost bought Barbie’s latest Malibu mansion. 

Luckily, James and I have the same taste in McDonald’s Mighty Kids Meal toys, more or less. He throws the Beany Bears around like balls, hurls the skateboarder and motorcycle men over his three Hot Wheels race cars that light up from the underside, and runs over his two Hello Kitty figures, one spinning around in a ballerina pose. 

Last night, I tried getting the Hello Kitty that hula hoops. I mean, I bought some Chicken McNuggets, in hopes of getting the Hula Hoop Hello Kitty. 

Why? Blame the drive-thru guy. 

Two weeks ago, in the middle of an interminable limbo between Hot Wheels and Hello Kitty/G.I. Joe, where they were handing out these stupid yellow robots with stickers for faces, legs and arms and monster heads and claws that didn’t belong anywhere near the robot... I started chatting with the guy who took my drive-thru order. 

He and I got all excited over what McDonald’s would offer up soon, within a week’s time. He jumped up and grabbed two Hello Kitty toys as a preview, practically doing a jig while he was at it. “These are the coolest things in like, ever. Look!” He showed me Hello Kitty slowly gyrating with a pink hula hoop and Hello Kitty’s image being imprinted in a miniature toaster, nodding and dancing the entire time. 

I couldn’t wait either and had my husband Eddie go pick up some Nuggies and a Hello Kitty hula hoop or toaster. He came back with Hello Kitty on a pink stand with three different colored bracelets. Okay, not bad, maybe the next day. I came back with Hello Kitty balleting in a magnetic stand. 

The other night, after singing with the church choir in Night of Praise, I drove straight for McDonalds, intent on asking specifically for Hello Kitty doing the hula hoop. I waited for 20 minutes in the drive-thru, they got my orders wrong (I wanted Coke, not Diet Sprite! I wanted barbecue sauce, not sweet and sour!), and when I saw my Hello Kitty toy was the ballerina again, I asked if they had a different one. 

The female clerk tersely, impatiently said – as if I were a child hah! –

 while staring at the cash register, “Nope, that’s all we have tonight.” 

Dang it! You people aren’t supposed to have the same exact toy every day! 

James didn’t mind. But mommy needs to go back out there tomorrow and see if they got any new Hello Kittys. That or, actually consider giving $10 to Kevin, a neighbor boy, about 10 or 11 years of age, down the street, for his accidental Hula Hoop Hello Kitty which he got when he really wanted a G.I. Joe toy (they ran out, James doesn’t dig G.I. Joe anyway). 

If Kevin doesn’t even want Hello Kitty, why not give it to me for free, especially after I pledged three whole bucks for his school jogging for charity drive? 

Even Deanna, another neighborhood girl, about five, got her Hula Hoop Hello Kitty right off the bat when her family went to Port Angeles for their regular weekend visit. Wah, mommy! 

I noticed that since I got hooked into the McDonald’s Happy Meal toy collecting, right around Beany Bear time, they started screwing up with availability and variety. 

Of course, I could always give it up and act my age. Maybe start collecting a paycheck... 

If they start giving away Barbies as toys next week, I’m screwed.

Where the heck's skateboarder man?!

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