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Read This - DAVID LAVOIE: Men and the toys they simply must have

From Sunday NST (8/6/08)

DAVID LAVOIE: Men and the toys they simply must have
by: DAVID LAVOIE
I SOMETIMES chuckle when I remember a bumper sticker I saw in North America years ago. It read: "Whoever dies with the most toys, wins." It was an ironic comment on the perennial male fascination with things mechanical; a fact that has been known to cause women to roll their eyes in resignation and mutter: "Boys will be boys."

Now, I'm just a boy. No, scratch that... I'm a really old kid who still loves toys.

I can't resist neat stuff, even at my advanced age. It's that guy thing.

I was in a shopping plaza last week and passed a stand where a young man was demonstrating toy helicopters.
I mean they hover, they swoop, they dart, they fly, they sneak up on pretty girls and scare the daylights out of them. What guy could resist them?

My wife, of course, was not impressed. She goes to shopping malls to try on shoes. My three daughters all do the same thing. It's like women have this extra gene; the shoe gene.

Well, guys have an extra gene too, one that draws them towards things they can fool around with.

Carefully explaining to my wife that it was for my grandson, I bought a helicopter, all the time hoping that she would not notice that the box clearly indicated that the little flying beauty was not suitable for any child under 14. My grandson is 2.

I, on the other hand, am over 14. I got away with it because she was so charmed by the vision of me and my grandson spending quality time together, bonding.

The thing about these helicopters, I've learned, is that they are not easy to fly. You need a large open area to practise.

So I waited until my wife was out before sneaking the helicopter down to the tennis courts beside our condominium. As soon as I had my new toy buzzing about merrily, I realised that I had an audience.

Two of the maintenance staff, men of course, were watching in open-mouthed delight; a security guard showed up and joined them.

On a nearby tiled roof, three men were doing some repairs. They stopped to applaud with glee. Delight in toys is a universal guy thing.

It was a sneaky trick, pretending that I was buying it for my grandson when I really wanted to play with it myself, but it is not like there isn't a precedent in my own life.

When I was 5, my father announced at the dinner table one night that he was building a model train set for me. It was to be large and built completely to scale.

Two Lionel Trains powered by electricity, but otherwise accurate in every detail, would whiz about, crossing bridges, barrelling through tunnels, chugging past lakes made of mirrors and pulling into a tiny station in a miniature village where little model people would be waiting to board them.

On the big day of the unveiling, I found out the ugly truth. It wasn't really my train set at all. It was my dad's.

I was invited to sit quietly on a chair and watch him play with it. There it was, the neatest toy I had ever seen, and I couldn't touch it. I vowed that day that when I was all grown up, I'd have my own toys.

Guys buy toys that aren't sold as toys, but they really are. I remember talking to a colleague of mine back in Canada.

She was in despair because her husband had purchased a kind of multi-purpose all-terrain vehicle for their country home.

It was powerful enough to manoeuvre along difficult, hilly forest paths but also had various attachments to dig holes, push dirt around and drag heavy stuff along behind it.

Her pastoral peace was being disturbed by this contraption, she sighed. But what was worse, she absolutely could not understand her husband's fascination with this new toy of his.

"Fran," I said. "It goes fast, runs on gasoline, makes a lot of noise and digs holes in the dirt. Any guy would love it! What's not to understand?"

When the boys are richer, their toys are more sophisticated. Instead of little helicopters, they buy red Porsche convertibles, ultra-fast laptops, sound systems capable of cranking out enough decibels to fill a dance hall, and yet another set of ultra expensive golf clubs. But toys they will have. Boys will be boys.

Back to the helicopter. I did something stupid. I decided to try it out inside just to see if I could make it hover motionlessly.

Blades whirring, it climbed, hung in the air for a second, veered off in a rapid swoop, crashed into a wall, bounced back, wobbled, and then dove straight into my wife's favourite house plant.

Shredded leaves, flower petals and bits of branch exploded upward until the exhausted little machine groaned and died.

I swept up the shredded plant before my wife got back home and took the helicopter back to the vendor for repairs.

He chuckled. "Had a crash, did you?" he asked. In about an hour he had the helicopter working again and I was heading gratefully out of the store when I saw it.

Its fuselage was a gleaming cobalt blue, the undercarriage was reinforced to protect it from hard landings, the battery pack was twice as big as mine so that it could fly longer. The vendor grinned slyly. "It's the latest model," he said.

So now this is my problem. How am I going to explain to my wife why I now have two toy helicopters? And worse, what am I going to say when she sees the house plant?

David Lavoie is a retired Canadian teacher who has made his home in Malaysia for the past four years

Mechanical thing fascinates men..hahaha..big boys toys...the toys are also getting bigger i.e real cars compared to models before..

I'm eyeing on one RC helicopter...huhuhu..tapi duit takdak lagi

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