Beside the microwave, in a dark, sullen corner where no one
ever goes except maybe the midnight mice, sits Chloe, the tragic Furby.
I don’t have any idea what it was that she did wrong, but it
must have been something pretty major. You don’t just get rejected straight
away after two weeks or so of hot lovin’ without some kind of huge misstep
somewhere in the story, you know?
Violet, my 4-year-old daughter, first laid eyes on a Furby
on Thanksgiving morning when a cousin of hers popped in to say, "Hi." She was
carrying something that looked like a Gremlin in her arms. I didn’t think much
about it. I still like Lincoln Logs and Viewmasters; everything after that is lost
But not Violet. Her cousin generously let her carry the
Furby around the house for a while, and I’m not exaggerating to you when I say,
point blank, my kid was all twitchy and glassy-eyed when it came time for the
Furby to split.
“Hmph,” I thought, as I jammed more stuffing inside the
still icy bird carcass under my fingers, ”I guess I’m shelling out for one of
those things for Christmas.”
And so it was.
In the beginning, our Furby’s story was a magical one, an
enchanted tale of holiday magic, if you will. And it seemed like it was all so
meant to be. Alas, you know how "meant to be" ends up most of the time, though,
Exactly: divorced, lonely and living in a Häagen Dazs tub or
a hooch jug, wishing they were dead, just like everyone else.
Violet talked about getting one of the furry critters every
chance she got leading up to Christmas. In her letter to Claus, and when she
sat on the big guy’s lap down at the mall, all she could really tell him that
she wanted under our tree this year was a damn Furby, a pink one. This made
things easy on the one hand, because I knew perfectly well that, ughhhh,
surprise: she wanted a Furby for
Christmas. I got that part, loud and clear. I got the picture.
One thing led to another, and, by a series of odd mishaps and
weird instances (the likes of which seem to pepper my days and season my years,
but would add very little to this particular vignette), let me just tell you
that a pink Furby arrived in the St. Nick of time, on Christmas Eve, on
the backs of a galloping Amazon Prime.
I was so proud of myself.
Things went exactly as we planned them, and Christmas morning was followed closely by two weeks of Furby madness.
What a guy, I
whispered to the wind. I knew you’d make
this Christmas wish come true.
Then, after the kids were asleep and I had had six glasses a nice glass of Rioja, my wife placed the pink Furby,
unwrapped, in all of its creepy-ish glory, on the very tip-top of the stacks of
gifts beneath our tree, sure to be the first thing our little girl spotted when
she and her younger brother came barreling into the room bright and early next
Things went exactly as we planned them, and Christmas morning was followed closely by
two weeks of Furby madness. Not a waking moment went by when Violet wasn’t
holding on to that toy, talking to it and petting it and jacking popcorn into
its freaking beak thing, as if it were Orville Redenbacher, himself, over to watch
a little football on the tube.
She slept with it, made sure it had its own pillow. She
brushed her teeth with it. Its whiny incessant voice was a constant in the
house, and it got to the point, for me at least, where I found myself in the
same territory of the soul as when the FBI uses hideously loud Michael Bolton
music to torture the sad bastards on the wrong end of a siege.
And then, poof. Just
like that, the honeymoon ended.
Not ended the way they mostly all do, the years slowly
giving way to an autopilot little groove you come to tolerate.
It ended in the way they end when the crazy-ass bride pushes
the groom off a honeymoon cliff on the third morning of their marriage.
Violet abandoned Chloe with everything she had.
She didn’t break up slowly. She didn’t get progressively bored
with the toy as the days went by. She was kissing and hugging and
talking to the toy one minute on one day, and as far as I can tell, the next
minute, she made me slam it back next to the microwave in a bizarre Guantanamo
of a cell, far from anywhere good in the house.
That’s where Chloe is still. I tried to get her out one day
after a couple of weeks of exile had gone by, but that was met with Napoleonic
outbursts from my daughter, who screamed at me, dead seriously, to put her
Chloe back into the darkness.
I have no idea what the hell happened. Maybe Chloe went all
Steven King on my kid, and she’s just too freaked out to tell me that it bit her
and hissed, “I AM THE DEVIL!” in a hail of hot spittle.
I’ll never probably know.
Kids are weird.
Next Christmas: dollar store kaleidoscopes and peppermint