Like many parents of video-addicted kids I thought, "At last! A chance for the kids to get some exercise." However, with a $250 price tag, I was thinking that maybe they weren't really too big for the backyard swingset after all.
Then I heard that the really hot new console, the PlayStation 3, is about $600. Suddenly, the Wii was looking like a bargain.
You see how insidious this whole thing is?
So okay. I decided I would get this for both boys, and it would be their one big Chanukah gift this year. Then, of course, there was the whole issue of actually buying it.
Days before it was due to hit stores, I noticed people sleeping in tents outside Target and Circuit City. I am not kidding. People were camping out. I knew I was in trouble.
Most of these folks were lining up for the PlayStation, which was reported to be in very short supply. But I got wind that only a very limited number of Wii's was being distributed. Ugh.
Thinking it was a long shot, I showed up at Circuit City the first morning the Wii was to go on sale. Bad news. They only got 11 units and they were gone.
"But the truck is still here," the sales clerk said.
"What does that mean?"
He shrugged. "There could be another box of them."
"How long before you know?"
I decided to park myself at the counter and wait. Within minutes, other people arrived looking for the Wii. I was not budging. If one unit came off that truck it was mine, goddamnit.
Sure enough, an hour later one Wii was brought up from the loading dock. I leered at the people behind me, lest anyone think they had a prayer of snatching it.
I emerged triumphant from Circuit City. Everything was falling into place. Chanukah would be saved. And if I was able to get the Wii, how hard could it be to the Nintendo DS in coral pink my daughter wanted?
Ha! The DS, a handheld current generation Gameboy, has proven to be the most elusive product of the year. In pink at least. I was calling stores every day and no one had it. Finally, with Chanukah approaching, I was forced to give up and get the darned thing in another color. But guess what? By that point, it was sold out in every color.
Then, yesterday, I hit pay dirt. Toys R Us had it in stock. Not in pink, so black would have to do. By that point I was so desperate I didn't even balk when they told me the Nintendo DS was only being sold as a "bundle." That means you're forced to buy all this extra crap you don't need with it. The cashier, who had a slight accent, asked me, "What color chair do you want?"
"Excuse me?" I said.
"What color chair do you want?"
"Yes. It comes in blue and pink."
"I'm sorry," I said. "I'm not understanding you. It sounded like you said, 'What color chair do you want.'"
"I did. It comes with a chair."
"The videogame comes with a chair. Like a chair that you sit on?"
I was utterly confused. And I felt bad for the cashier, whose accent really wasn't that thick after all. I was the thick one. Apparently there's a chair you plug your game system into and ... something happens. Like you go into another dimension or something. I'm not exactly clear on this.
Anyway, the kids went berserk when they opened their gifts last night, so I guess all is well. And meanwhile, I leave you a poem I wrote a few years ago, which appeared in Light Magazine:
A Mother's Chilling Post-Holiday Tale
By Ellen Meister
Once upon an evening dreary, while I toiled, weak and weary
Over many a desperate dirty dishrag and forgotten chore,
While I leaned down limply lugging toys from off the carpet rugging
Suddenly there came a tugging, tugging at the skirt I wore.
"'Tis some little kid," I muttered, smoothing out the skirt I wore,
"Only this and nothing more."
Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
Action dolls not yet dismembered lay across the playroom floor.
Each new toy was still unbroken, yet the child still was pokin'
And the only word there spoken was the whining more, "S'more.
"This he whispered then his sister murmured back the word, "S'more."
Only this they did implore.
Then the silly, sad, incessant clangor of the season's presents
Chilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now to still the beating of my heart I stood repeating,
"Darling children, I am pleading, let's return some to the store--
Darling children, I'm entreating, let us give some to the poor."
Still they said, "We want s'more."
"You still want more?" I blurted feeling slightly dizzy, my head reeling,
"Get thee back into the playroom where your playthings line the floor!
Go before I need to yank you! Go before I want to spank you!
Leave my kitchen and I'll thank you not to ask for any more.
Take thy sighs from out my sight and thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the child, "I want more."
And the child, so demanding, still is standing, still is standing
Near a portion of my pantry just beside the kitchen door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming
Sights of toys and trinkets gleaming on the shelves of every store.
Unaffected with respect to his demands for even more,
Quoth I, the mother, "Never more!"
Last but not least, if you're in the New York area, check out Newsday tomorrow (Sunday). There's supposed to be a pretty cool article about a certain minivan-driving suburban PTA mom who also happens to be an author.