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Elmo refuses to go down without a fight

Submitted by on Monday, 29 December 2008 One Comment

As annoying companions go, it could have been much worse than Elmo. It could have been Barney, whose “need adenoid surgery” voice drove me nuts long before I had kids.

As obnoxious toys go, it couldn’t touch the possessed police or ranting robot.  For that matter, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the average Crappy Meal trinket.

The only drawback to the Elmo Sing and Giggle Tool Bench — which now goes for $299, and I guarantee you I didn’t pay a fifth of that for it — was its habit of bursting into song as you talked past. “Elmo’s working at the toy bench and building with his friends — like you!” to the tune of “Working on the Railroad.” It scared the crap out of me en route to many a 2 a.m. refrigerator run.

But it had outgrown its usefulness and had the footprint of a small armchair. So it had to go. Little did I know, though, the extent of the racket it would raise on his way out — a ruckus that left me with a dead car as Dad rushed to get to work.

The course toward automotive destruction was set about a year ago, when the bench migrated to Big Guy’s room. That’s our version of the Island of Misfit Toys — playthings exiled from living room prime real estate because the guys no longer are that interested, but they’re not ready to give them up.

The bench foundered in a corner while a dancing Elmo, YMCA edition, sank in the toy box. Too wiry to be huggable and its one bit too boring to keep Boots amused for long, it was forgotten not long after Christmas Day last year.

The guys never played with either but refused to let go. Toy purge after toy purge — through two birthdays and pre-Christmas — they clung stubbornly.

But Friday, the guys were gone and the big people had free reign.

The tool bench was easy,  but I swear the dancer’s eyes pleaded with me as I stuffed him into a garbage bag.

“Mom! It’s me, E-L-M-O. How can you do this to me after all we’ve been through? Remember the year the costume me road in the stroller when Big Guy refused to wear it on Halloween? How about all those times my DVDs kept Big Guy amused long enough for you to feed That Baby Who Ruined His Life? And don’t forget the online game that helped both guys learn how to go potty like big boys. Doesn’t any of that mean anything to  you?

Yes, Elmo. It means a lot. It means another remnant of my babies is leaving.  But it’s time.

Dad took the bag and the bench to my car. Looking back, I should have put the monster in a strait jacket.

Two days later, I went out to start the car for the Good Will run. My first clue was an electronic clicker that wouldn’t click. I opened the door manually — how primitive — and there was no dome light. Tried the key in the ignition, though I’m not sure why, and didn’t even get a grind.

I got out, planning to pop the hood. Then I noticed the trunk already was popped. Dang Elmo had tried to escape. I’m sure the light inside the trunk didn’t last long before draining my battery.

I had lost my jumper cables two cars ago, so we asked the neighborhood grease monkey for help. He bought over a portable charger, no dice. He checked the battery with a meter and shook his head. “I hardly ever see anything below 12 come back.”

I could see a tow bill, a garage bill and the cost of a new battery, all because of one red monster bent on mischief.

Eventually, we got the car going with a jump from Dad’s. I stood in the cold and watched it run while he got ready for work. I hoped it would charge enough to hold before he had to leave.

As I shivered, I cursed the recalcitrant red monster.

If I have to let them go,  you do, too, Elmo.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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