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Monday, January 30, 2017

Slinky Made Me Do It: Christmas 1946 or 1947

My guess is that I was four. The Slinky had appeared on the mass market for Christmas in 1946. Assuming we missed the first wave, It would have been Christmas of 1947 when a Slinky appeared on top of my sister Judy's stack of (unwrapped) presents under the tree. As was usual in those years, I was first awake, went quietly down the stairs, turned on the lights in the living room to see the five neat stacks of presents from Santa under the tree. It was always obvious which stack was whose—even among my four sisters. We always got some of the practical things we needed--like socks and clothes. Perhaps it was those that made the recipient of each stack obvious. I don't remember what I got that year, but I am sure my presents were well chosen and should have thrilled me.

However, even before I explored my pile I saw that Judy's pile was topped with a Slinky in its box. Envy and desire consumed me. I had to open her Slinky. Nobody else was awake. The box could easily be opened and closed without any signs of tampering. I could play with her Slinky and put it carefully back in its box. She and everybody would never discover my Christmas crime.

And so it went. I took it immediately to the lower, longer flight of carpeted stairs. Slinky makes some noise as it steps down stairs; I didn't risk waking others up by playing with it on the top flight. Great fun, until—until it came down wrong(ly) and got slightly tangled with itself. “Surely I can untangle it and ... .” But, no. A seeming devil-miracle had happened. Slinky's tangle seemed to be impossible to undue without running the interlocking ring of the coil all the way through to the end. But, “I'll try this, and this, and this,” and when nothing worked I laboriously worked the unwanted tangle through to the end. Of course, by the time I had freed the offending coil, Slinky's beautifully machined and uniform coils were distorted. It would no longer return to form. It would no longer do what Slinky does. The gravity of my crime now overwhelmed me. Not only had I opened and played with my sister's present, I had destroyed it.

What was I to do? What any coward would do--I stuffed it back into its box. Then, my eldest sister, Barbara, appeared on the stairs ordering me back to bed. She said I had gotten up way too early. Little did she know that I was glad to take my terrible guilt to bed.

When I heard my sisters begin to go downstairs, I got up and (pardon the pun) slinked down. I had no choice. As Judy excitedly opened her slinky box I had to admit my crime. I don't really remember what happened then, other than I know she was terribly disappointed and quietly angry with me. Whatever happened, my guilt was so immense that any punishment was mild in comparison. The guilt lives till this day. Though Judy seems to have forgiven me, I can't forgive myself.

(c) from date of posting, by Bob Komives, Fort Collins 

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