What is left of my collection of action figures is mostly stashed away in boxes in the basement. A couple of years ago I went on an Ebay selling spree and drastically reduced my holdings, but I kept my prized pieces, like Cobra Commander, and the lovely, red-headed intelligence agent, Scarlet. Then Revenge of the Sith came out, and I just had to get some of the new toys (you can read about it all in the Milk Archives). I've been careful to collect only the toys that really seem worth the investment (they're expensive!) but yesterday at Wal Mart I bought a figure even though I didn't really want it, just to get that "new toy" feeling.
No ants were harmed in the making of this photo.
Part of the appeal of my toys is that they bring back happy memories of childhood, of playing in the garden or basement and creating my own miniature world of fantasy and adventure, of transforming the couch or the flower garden into a volcano or tropical jungle, and just generally having a good time. Another part of the appeal of these toys is that they have aesthetical design elements that are pleasurable to behold in their own right.
But I've also long suspected that my toys could be something of an entanglement or distraction--at least when they start receiving too much of my attention and creative energies. For instance, there are the dreams--likely common to compulsive collectors in general--of stumbling into an enchanted grotto, garage sale or discount store, finding an untold wealth of rare and exotic, endlessly fascinating, toys, and wanting to take home more and more and more of them. I've had many variations of this dream over the years.
Last night I dreampt the following:
I am in a room that looks much like my childhood bedroom. There are a couple of boxes stacked on the counter, full of my toys, and a colony of ants has made a nest in them. There is a hole in the top of the top box, and the ants are carrying my G.I.Joe figures (just the bad guys) in and out of the nest in a strange and amusing kind of pantomime. The insects go through a certain routine several times, bringing the different action figures into their nest in certain combinations, and I am trying to discern some sort of meaning in the pattern. Then I pick up one of the toys to find it is covered in a thin, sticky film. I find this even more startling and amusing than the dance, and I go to show my friend. He looks concerned, and says, "It looks like you've got an infestation of Prairie Ants." We go together into the room and jostle the boxes, which causes the ants to swarm out of their nest. There is now a cloud of them flying around and my friend and I are scurrying to get out of the room, but the door has closed.
How fascinating, Mr. Flatlander. Now tell me about your father.