Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Flarp

Three months ago it was Christmas. Now, from this first sentence you may think that this story is going to have something to do with Christmas, and you wouldn't be entirely wrong, but you're not right either. This story in fact, is only tenuously connected to all the holiday cheer, presents, Christmas parties... So maybe I should choose a different opening sentence, but I've already made it this far so I am going to stick with it.

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                                                               "Lihya, that was a toot."

Three months ago we opened our larger than average stockings and were not surprised to find our traditional, crackers, cheese, and sausage in addition to about a quart of peanut butter cups at the the toe. I was however, surprised and delighted to find a small cylinder of gooey pink Flarp. I was sent into a fit of laughter and tears even began to squeeze out of my eyes. I couldn't contain myself. My face turned red from lack of air as I immediately opened up the little putty toy and began playing with it. I made such a spectacle of myself that my mother began laughing uncontrollably and the tears came squeezing out of her eyes too.

Why in the world would such a silly play thing, you may ask, invoke such an outrageous reaction? I don't rightly know but let me tell you a story about Flarp.


One day back in Missouri when I was eleven years old, my Mom, my siblings, and I were at Dollar General. Mom went to do her shopping and we wandered around the toy section looking at puzzles and little trinkets. After exhausting the toy aisle I went to find Mom and on my way I ran across a container of Flarp. The seal was already broken so I saw no harm in opening the container and trying it out. I thought it was the coolest toy ever! I brought it to Mom and showed her and begged her to buy it for me. Normally she wouldn't buy us little things like this and normally we wouldn't ask but this time I did and this time she did. I was delighted! I brought that Flarp all over the place with me, specifically to my brothers soccer practice.

At my brothers soccer practice there were a few things I would do to entertain myself. I remember sitting in the front seat of the suburban, feet sticking out the window, (Cause that's how all the cool teenagers sit right?) listening to jazz music and playing with my Flarp. The soothing sounds of jazz enveloped me and a light breeze blew through the open windows pulling me into a peaceful world of my own. The scratchy voice of an old man serenaded me and the swinging rhythm made my heart skip a beat; it was that day that I fell in love with jazz music. I decided then and there that someday I would learn to play the saxophone. Eventually the jazz program was over and I got out of the suburban bringing my little container of Flarp with me.

I went over to the soccer field where my brother was playing and got on the running track that went around it. I would jog some of the time and walk some of the time. The field was a small one so it wouldn't take me long to make a full circuit. Round and round I went, I passed sweaty joggers and a lady walking her dog. She wore a grey T-shirt, a headband across her brow and her brown hair in a high ponytail. Her dog was a white poodle. On the far side of the track there was a river. I stopped and looked down the steep bank below. It was odd for me because growing up in South Carolina all the creeks I had been exposed to were gentle, calm little brooks (except the mountain streams) but this one obviously made a regular habit of tearing through the earth. I continued on and sat on a wooden platform nearby to play with my Flarp. Beyond that were the bleachers where my mom and other parents sat to watch their children. There were some boys there too, playing and being loud and periodically being shushed by their mothers. I got up from the platform and prepared my gooey green putty to make the biggest fart sound that I could. When I got within earshot I let it rip and the boys jerked their heads around to look at me. I smirked and continued to "pass gas" as I slowly sauntered by. I was quite proud of myself for impressing those boys with my tom-boyish play toy.

I don't know what happened to that Flarp from eight years ago but the goo that I got last Christmas resides on my bedside table. I like to sit on my bed and play with it and my little brothers often come in and ask to have a turn. They laugh and giggle, "Eww! Stinky!" and wave their hands in front of their nose. There is hardly a time that I get out this toy that I don't think about my brothers soccer practice, and subsequently the games I played with my siblings while we waited, the expedition down the dirt bike trails nearby and most importantly, listening to that enchanting old man and falling in love with jazz.

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