Monday, July 30, 2007

Toying around with the past

I've rediscovered yet another old friend from my childhood. His face, or more appropriately faces, may be familiar to you:

Yes, the inimitable Mr. Potato Head! Our relationship dates back to the early days of my youth. My mother has kept some old kindergarten assignments of mine, including one where I wrote of this my favorite toy. So there's something about sticking facial features into an imitation spud that always captured my imagination.

The toy was first sold to consumers in 1952 by Hasbro, and initially didn't include a body. Kids were supposed to put the plastic bits into real vegetables. I'm not quite old enough to remember those days, but I'm sure that must have gotten quite messy so the artifical torso was tossed in by 1964.

Maybe it's an attachment to the art of disguise, or maybe it's a fondness for limitless physical transformation. Whatever the explanation, part of me has always been fond of this plastic monument to personal redefinition. You can get quite lost in choosing different combinations of eyes, nose, ears, mouth, hats and even feet to create tubermen that reflect a particular mood or fancy. My nephew Matthew got caught up in that very frenzy today as he shared in the excitement of another unboxed antiquity.

Metamorphosis is an act to be enjoyed by all ages, and adaptation is an important trait to embrace in this time of epochal change. Re-imagining ourselves and our world is a necessary step to take if we're to pass through the threshold upon which we're poised and emerge on the other side better off for the journey.

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