I’m surprised I survived the 1980’s. I was small and fragile and looking back at the toys…I can’t believe that at some point someone didn’t need my dental records and an eyewitness account to identify me. I was young and naïve and bleeding a good portion of the time. Yeah, mostly bleeding. I had a daunting sense of adventure; made worse by the fact that I was armed with some of the most dangerous toys in the history of time.
“Helmets? We don’t need no stinking helmets!”
Actually, we probably did…
Photo credit: thomasrdotorg, Flickr
10 Pogo Balls
Now these toys may seem innocuous and fairly safe, but that was only if you used them correctly. I know of maybe 3 people who actually did. They were pretty boring if you didn’t find clever new ways to play with them. In a time of skateboards their were ramps and in the time of pogo balls there were roofs (more on this later). When friends weren’t trying to find the maximum height they could jump from in which these things would stay intact, they were using them indoors. That was where the danger really stemmed from. Pogo Balling was only fun if you had an obstacle course and limited space; only indoor Pogo Balling seemed challenging.
Talk about a bull in a china shop? More like Courtney Love at the Waterford Crystal factory after a bottle of Stoli and a handful of Xanax. You could go one, maybe two rounds before breaking something expensive (like a vase or an arm), so you had to make those runs count. And when you did, you often counted out allowance money afterwords to help pay for the damages. Stupid Pogo Balls…
9 Lawn Darts
The most boring game in the world was only made interesting by the fact that someone could possibly die from playing it. And in my day, there had already been some injuries with the game so the darts weren’t very sharp, but were still very solid, very metal and flying through the air willy-nilly over your head. It was like blindly lobbing greased-up hammers into the air with little disregard for where they landed; as children ran under them trying to catch them to keep you from getting your points. That said, I’m one of the lucky morons that decided throwing darts in the air just wasn’t as fun as it could be.
And why would it? You throw the dart up in the air and you have to wait literally 3’s of seconds for the dart to succumb to gravity and land (hopefully) near it’s intended target. This is not a fun way to play so we blatantly ignored the warnings on the box and played our way. An hour later, with a possible concussion, I tearfully explained to my cousin that I was no longer interested in Lawn Darts. That was the day I learned that it’s people like me that ruin the harmless fun of others by sometimes becoming a statistic for the lawyers to use.
8 BB Guns
You’ll shoot your eye out. Or someone else’s. Or the eye of a neighborhood cat. At the end of the day someone was going to be wearing an eye patch. I don’t know one person who had a B.B. gun that doesn’t have a story of getting injured by said gun. Mostly boys were armed with these and the thinking of a 10 year old boy is usually murky as best.
I remember we used to shoot each other with these things. This is where the situation would go terribly wrong; everyone was supposed to abide by the “one pump” rule when going Lee Harvey on their neighborhood friends, but that’s when over-thinking in the trenches of war ended up getting someone hurt. “One pump, but what if it doesn‘t get there? Two pumps is for pussies. Probably should go at least three unless this was made in Taiwan; wait, yep, made in Taiwan–that means probably add another two pumps.” And before you know it you’re at the emergency room and your buddy looks like Captain Ron.
I’ve seen a lot of dumb people get hurt in my day and most of the worst, most severe injuries came on this bouncy middle finger to gravity. Well, not necessarily on the trampoline, but mostly on the ground somewhere within a ten foot radius of said trampoline. Black eyes, arms that went in the complete wrong direction, various sprains, bruises and lots of lost blood. These things should be banned from use by anyone under the age of twenty one. The days I remember on them were as if Cirque Du Soleil had downed two bottles of Jack Daniels all got on the trampoline at once. Arms and legs flailing in all directions, while people shot of the thing in all directions like a landmine went off underneath us.
And remember the Pogo Ball I talked about before? I once saw a buddy get on a Pogo Ball on top of the shed in his backyard, then jump off the shed onto the trampoline–sending him wildly careening 15 feet into the corner of a backyard where he miraculously landed the Pogo Ball on a pile of rocks where it then exploded in way that would have made the Manhattan Project jealous. My knees still hurt from watching that. I’ve seen less buckle on the waists of rodeo champions. Kids today don’t know anything about the type of reckless ingenuity it takes to really get a doctor to raise his eyebrows when you tell him the story of how you got your injury these days.
6 Big Wheels
I was the Evel Knievel of Big Wheel riders in my neighborhood. And by that I mean I never backed down from a jump (no matter how bone shatteringly stupid it was). And I carried a gun. You know, because of ruffians and the roving bands of 18th century Spaniards that were always brandishing swords and causing trouble in the cul-de-sac. Alas, that is a whole other story.
The Big Wheel was the safety bar set by your parents and the people at the Darwin Awards to see when a young man or woman was mature enough to handle riding a bicycle. I had a big wheel till I was 14. And boy did I go through them. I must have had 10 different big wheels because of controlled slides, curb jumping, ramp jumping, racing on grass, asphalt and once tried to jump a creek at the bottom of a huge hill near my neighborhood. It was my Snake River Canyon. And it also heeded the same results. There was blood, crashing, rocks and to add insult to various injury, I ended up soaking wet. I’m pretty sure most people reading this who lived in the 80’s have a similar story. Or maybe I’m just “that guy.”
See, I rode bikes a lot, but never suffered severe injuries from them until I got to 15 or so. But, I had a scooter when I was like 8 or 9 and I’ve never had a toy that seemed to always have such a complexly different agenda than I did. Later on I would discover “girlfriends” and the circle would be complete, but scooters were my first foray into learning that gravity and inertia would never want to do what I thought we were going to be doing that day.
I was the Carl Lewis of scooter riders. I flew over the handle bars with the grace and speed of someone twice my size. My friends didn’t have scooters, so they rode mine. They also knew the pain of having the front tire stop and the back tire swing around to clock you in the back of the head at 15 mph. At one point, we just all agreed to leave this thing alone. I mean, we ALWAYS got hurt riding it. It gave you the thrill of skateboarding mixed with the false sense of security a bike gives you. It was dark red and we referred to it as the “devil scooter.” The brakes on the thing lasted like 2 weeks, tops. And when the tires finally went flat, we left them that way. Like an alcoholic Step-Daddy, we didn’t want it hurting anyone else.
Even attempting to stand on a skateboard can lead a child with a poor equilibrium to a serious concussion. Let alone attempting anything more advanced.
Need I say more?
3 Giant Styrofoam Airplanes
You’d have to be the Werner Von Braun of Styrofoam aeronautics to get these damn things to fly more than 10 feet. Or move to a place with a wind tunnel.
That or you’d have to climb up on the roof of your house and get a running start. I did the latter and that was why these things were massively dangerous. Airplanes gave me my first taste of the fickle pain in the ass that was gravity, wind direction, and gave me a wicked fear of heights.
2 Sit and Spin
The only thing more dangerous than Dean Martin’s “All-Liquid Diet” is ol’ Deano’s equilibrium. But that’s exactly what a child experiences when they sit and take this horrible idea for a spin. It’s a personalized merry-go-round with all of the fun side effects: vomiting, insane dizziness, vertigo, massive head trama and more vomiting.
Who thought this was a good idea to give this to children? Who likes feeling like this? Just because I’m “10,” doesn’t mean I want to feel like Dudley Moore on a bender.
Anyone else have to read that book “Ethan Frome”? Where the main character and his lover get on a sled and slam head-first into a tree in an attempt to end their lives? Welcome to every winter of my life since I was 5 years old. I’ve been gearing up and the sled and slamming head-first into trees every winter just at the off-chance that I’ll forget ever reading that book. So far, no dice.
Sledding is one of the activities that often flies under the radar of the dangerous children’s activities. Because snow is soft; until you’re falling recklessly into it froma ten foot ramp you and your buddies built. Or maybe, let’s say the roof of a neighbor or other snow enthusiast, such as yourself. And throw in the possibility of concussions, frostbite and the fact that you may very well slide into an oncoming Ford Taurus; sledding is often a recipe for an exciting screeching disaster.