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Featured Article

Birthday Or BUST!

By: vkimo

What grown up doesn't look back on their childhood fondly? Birthdays were especially awesome times. Unlike Christmas, this day was solely yours for reaping. No frantic sorting through wrapped up boxes searching for your name written on a sticker. No looking on enviously as your kid brother holds his new Nerf Bow & Arrow overhead triumphantly while you shyly cradle your Jr. Geologist Rock Kit. NO! This was your day and every present lame or cool was yours and no one else got JACK! Of course birthdays weren't always blissful binges of plasticky, electronickey, video gameticky goodness. Sometimes my friend, you rolled snake eyes and that's what I wanted to cover today. We'll look at 5 horrible presents that were so bad they went to the back of the closet faster than you can blow out your candle. So let's roll!

Shadow Games

That thing on the cover cost me thousands in therapy

I was actually surprised I found this online. I got this for what was probably my 6th or 7th birthday. I remember opening the flat wrapped present dreading a Doctor Seuss book or pack of color pencils. This was from my grandma so I didn't really have high hopes to begin with. It's basically a book that shows you various dexterous arrangements for making shadow puppets. It came with a small flashlight that interested me more than the book itself. I remember trying the book out that night with limited success but my hands were just too small to produce anything good. I did learn how to do a howling wolf which I still perform to this day when the opportunity presents itself.

The moose looked cool but at the tender age of 7 my mom wouldn't let me near forks

Moon Shoes

Also useful for reaching the cookie jar

Now this present was a Trojan horse. When I tore these bad boys out I was stoked. From the pictures on the box of a kid suspended 10 feet in the air to the commercials showcasing a herd of adolescents bouncing in a park, this was a cool gift. I got the Nickelodeon version which was essentially the same save for a Nick logo decal on the sides. I remember slipping these on and taking a few tentative bounces. Once I acclimated to the boots artificial gravity I decided it was time to fly. I started bouncing forward bunny style and crouched low and sprung with all the power my 9 year old legs could muster. The soaring through air and touching the clouds didn't last quite as long as I suspected and my crash landing didn't help either. I tried them a few more times but the risk of twisting my ankle was just too much. I remember leaving them out in the backyard and the rubber was cracking but decided to give them one last whirl which resulted in a teeth clattering crunch as the rubber broke and my feet slammed to the ground. And that was that.

Interesting picture as the manual strictly forbid any jump over 2" for liability reasons

Brunswick Bowling

If those were heads pictured instead of bowling balls, this game would have had promise

I knew what this was before opening it, sort of. A video game, any kid knew the shape, weight and feel of a boxed game. I was giddy as I opened it imagining something great like Street Fighter 2 Turbo or Metroid Prime...but it was Brunswick Bowling. This came from my oldest sisters husband. They're about 20 years older than me if you're thinking I must be off my rocker for getting a SNES game on my birthday from my brother in law, but I digress. The level of disappointment was ranking about flannel pjs on the lame present scale and I don't think I could have faked being excited. At least he had the decency to peel the clearance store off it when he pulled it out of the bargain bin at Toys R Us. I played this one time and that was it. Still have it to this day though, it being the only surviving game after my mom got rid of my SNES. Life just does you dirty that way sometimes.

The object of the game was to not get manically depressed playing.

Savings Bond

Judging by the current interest rates I'll be able to redeem this just in time to make a copay for my colonoscopy.

This was a curve ball. I have an aunt who lives out of state who used to send me cards with money on my birthday for years, even though we only met a handful of times. So this year was no different and when I got her card I excitedly knew I didn't have to fret over the contents. It was usually a greeting card with a crisp 10 dollar bill. But when I cranked this open my jaw dropped and I yelled to my mom, "Auntie sent me TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS!" That was a fortune to my young self. The euphoric fantasies of living the rest of my life in the Hamptons was soon dashed as my mom tried her best to explain what a savings bond was. It was money but I couldn't cash it for something like 10 years! What sorcery is this?! I lost the bond since then and can't say I'm still not just a tad bitter.

Now that's what I'm talking about. In Geoffrey We Trust.

Hand Me Downs

Don't do this to your siblings. Please.

On the rare occasions when my siblings would get me stuff, I never had high hopes to begin with. My brother would usually just give me his old clothing that either didn't fit or was threadbare. Even then I suspect my parents made them give me that junk. I really don't even know what else to say!

Couldn't wait to wear this on Monday, at least it went down to my knees so when the kids pushed me in the mud my pants would stay clean.

Well there you have it! I hope I didn't come off as a ungrateful little brat, but let's be real, we all had a little brat in us at some time. I got a lot of good stuff too but I wanted to pay homage to the stuff that just didn't ruffle my feathers. Hope you enjoyed reading and I'd love to hear some of your tales of bad presents!

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Journeygirl Posted on Oct 27, 2015 at 04:39 PM

I never had moon shoes but would love to try them...and more than likely fall flat on my face.

Vaporman87 Posted on Jan 07, 2015 at 05:23 AM

@cbf: I think I would have tried to work out a deal where you "re-exchanged" the gifts after the passage of a little time. LOL. Of course, you would want to hide those gifts from your moms. Unless you just said "Hey... he said I could borrow it."

comic_book_fan Posted on Jan 07, 2015 at 02:50 AM

i remember when i was in kindergarten we had one of those gift exchange things and my mom bought the present for me to give to him and his mom bought the present for him to give to me and it turned out the present my mom bought for him was a really cool spiderman action figure and i totally wanted to keep it and what his mom bought for him to give to me was a really cool cyborg arm thing that he wanted to keep but we had to exchange so it at the time we both thought it kind of sucked.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Jan 06, 2015 at 04:02 AM

Thanks for breaking the post-holiday article drought. This was a great read, as usual. I hated those learn a skill books with a passion. One year I got the Klutz Juggling book, I wanted to play, not learn to entertain at other kids birthdays. My Mom's boyfriend got me trilobite excavation kits or other science junk birthday presents for years. At the end of their relationship he finally wised up and got me an album full of 8x10 vintage KISS publicity photos, but it was too little too late for me to put in a good word for him. Should have been buying me comics, dude. Oh and loved seeing the Geoffrey cash, I miss that stuff. Now a Toys R Us savings bond, that would have been something to get excited about!

Vaporman87 Posted on Jan 05, 2015 at 02:54 PM

I've received some pretty disappointing gifts on my birthdays. Typically they were clothing items (which I DESPISED getting for any occasion outside of purposefully accompanying a parent into a store for that sole reason).

However, the most disappointment I ever remember feeling after having received a gift was an elementary school Christmas gift exchange. I remember seeing my friends opening gifts that I thought were pretty neat, and hoping I too got a good one. But the person who had drawn my name was one of the less fortunate students, and his gift was naturally that of a child in his predicament. Used and dirty. I think it was a Star Wars action figure (at least that was the scale of it, the Kenner 3 3/4" figs). Out of the package, terribly used, and in a plain brown box with tape keeping it closed.

Much as I tried to hold it back, the tears came forth. I felt embarrassment that I was the only one in my class with such a gift. As a child, it's difficult to understand why something better could not be afforded. I wish I could have a redo on that and just show some appreciation... rise above the embarrassment. But what's done is done.

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