Sooooo. Two things remain eternal, I see. You're still single, and the holidays are here again.
Another fair-sized percentage of your single friends have coupled up and made kids over the course of the year, and you, my friend, are invited to share the blessings of the season at some point during the month of December. By "share the blessings of the season," of course, I mean "bring presents for their progeny." After all, you're still single. You've got all the money in the world, not to mention endless spare time for shopping.
Well, screw that. And screw those Prius-driving NPR-listening tofu-scarfing yuppie dickheads, too. You'll bring a gift for little Brianna, all right, but it won't be anything from the wish list her pansy-ass parents have painstakingly created at your local Discovery Channel Store.
No, my friend. When you go shopping, you're heading straight for Satan's toystore: your local Toys R Us.
There are five basic categories of Revenge Toys: Severe Property Damage, Big Can O'Worms, Annoy-O-Trons, Personal Injury Devices, and The Ones That Make You Vomit Into The Back Of Your Mouth Just a Little Bit. Here's the 30,000-foot view of each:
Severe Property Damage. Any toy which a) contains or dispenses liquid or semiliquid, or b) whose stated purpose is to leave a mark. No parent could possibly object to the Gift of Art; to really get this party started, admire the magnetically-affixed scribbles and daubs on their refrigerator, and talk about what a mature sense of form little Joshua seems to have developed. Paint, pencils, pens, and Play-Doh are classic examples; for best results, avoid anything with the word "washable" on the package. (Oh, and don't forget the cooking toys: nothing says lovin'--or stains leather upholstery, or reinforces sex-role stereotypes--like an artificially-flavored strawberry pie from an EasyBake oven.)
Big Can O'Worms. Here I'm talking about any toy with multiple parts that take longer for the parent to put back into the package than they do for the toddler to dump them out. In addition to their potiential for property damage, many art sets consist of dozens of pens and pencils that will only go back into the box in one out of eight quadrillion possible ways. But if you're feeling especially sadistic, try a plywood map of the United States. No responsible parent yet minted can leave a map of the good ol' USA undone.
Personal Injury Devices. Any toy with sharp corners or wheels. Here you should be aware of one of the corollaries to Murphy's Law: when left on the floor, wheeled vehicles will inevitably seek a smooth, hard surface, and the pointy little bastards will go hide in the rug. When dropped on carpet, a two-by-two Lego block will assume one of eight possible positions, each of which presents a sharp triangular point to the unsuspecting foot. (The tiny plywood Rhode Island I mentioned upstream in Big Can O'Worms will also serve nicely for the impromptu midnight heel-punch procedure.)
Annoy-O-Trons. Any toy that emits an audible sound has annoy-o-tronic potential; another corollary to Murphy's Law states that the shriller the bleep, the longer the batteries will last, and the harder they will be to dig out and toss. But one need not stray far from the classics: on a rainy day, that blue Fisher-Price xylophone/keyboard that every child seems to acquire at some point between the ages of zero to six becomes an instrument of torment that would warm Dick Cheney's raisin-sized heart. Bored rugrats seem to be able to home in on that mis-tuned D and bang it over and over and over and over and over and over until their caregivers start foaming at the mouth and confessing the location of the purloined microfilm. And if all else fails, remember this: karaoke microphone!
The Ones That Make You Vomit Into The Back Of Your Mouth Just a Little Bit. No, I'm not talking about gross-out toys, which will be quietly deep-sixed by the parents as soon as the kids are in bed. Truly gag-worthy toys are the ones you know no progressive family would ever own, but they're just too heavily marketed for their kids to have missed, even in a PBS-only household. It's all about brand awareness, gang: these toys teach kids to sit down, shut up, and be good little consumers, just like their parents swore they never would. Examples: My Little Pony. Hello Kitty. GI Joe. Barbie, and (dear Jesus help us) Ken. Once unwrapped, these toys become instant favorites which cannot ever, ever, ever be thrown away without permanent irreversable damage to their tender little psyches.
Permutations and Combinations.
I bet you saw this coming, you devious little thing. Yes, many Revenge Toys share several elements of evil, but--although I've been trying to persuade PBS to market a roller-skating Elmo doll that whistles while he paints abstract portraits and falls into tiny sharp pieces while dropped--none combine all five.
But hey: you're rich, remember? There's nothing restricting you from buying more than one present!
For Dylan, your ten-year-old "nephew" who might have Asperger's syndrome, I suggest you pack up three tubes of Bionicles, a pack or six of the collectible Bionicle Trading Card Game, and the latest straight-to-video Bionicle DVD--that'd be Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows, not Bionicle 2: Metru Nui or Bionicle: Mask of Light, you moron!--and cram 'em all into one big box. Bionicles, as you soon will know, are Legos crossed with Transformers and dipped in crack cocaine. After hours of painstaking assembly, each tiny robot warrior survives one brush with combat before falling into a thousand heel-puncturing pieces ... what fun!
For Kendall, your eight-year-old "niece" who won't eat anything that isn't white, you can't go wrong with a big vat of Bratz. Bratz, for the uninitiated, combine everything educators hate about Barbie with everything educators hate about MTV. Bratz are big-headed mutant proto-teenagers who spend most of their time shopping at Forver 21, Urban Outfitters, and Hot Topic, fretting about their hair and make-up, and creating instant smash-hit rap videos with their tiny little video cameras, sold separately. You'll want to include all five Bratz (Fianna, Yasmine, Jade, Chloe, and, um, "Eitan"), plus the Bratz Rock Angels Party Plane--Dylan's Bionicle crew will just love the Party Plane--at least one uber-creepy disembodied Bratz Ooh La Lah Funky Fashion Makeover Head, and (naturellement!) the Bratz Rock Angelz Guitar Play on TV Game.
Last but not least, a special note for the hard cases. You know who you are, you losers. You've spent the last decade and a half going through December Hell, and now you've got "nieces" and "nephews" bigger than you are. For you, my friend--quickly, now, before hints about college funds start to drop--I've got three special words: