I still have no adequate explanation for why I spent almost $15 at the General Store in Oyster Bay, Long Island last weekend on a Gumby and Pokey figurine set, instead of buying something useful. To repeat. Reading Les Misérables at work was supposed to be weaning me from trivialities. But there they sit, green astride orange with big eyeballs, across my living room. Gumby and Pokey: maybe also a little like how Jean Valjean is carrying Marius unconscious with a broken collarbone through the (so far rag-free) Paris sewer system. But it's a stretch. A stretch!
I remember thinking I would pose them on my desk at work, in the underutilized World Financial Center space beneath my two flat-screen computer monitors. I'll admit, I pictured the picturesque ways I put them exciting co-workers to manual interactions (always healthy). But when I yanked them out of their packaging--and I am such an ass, I'd spent extra to get the "1960's Editions"--the sad fact appeared, plain as Play-Doh: Gumbies and Pokies are not what they were. God knows what Play-Doh is now; I don't want to. Oh, all right, Wikipedia: "Its 2004 United States patent indicates it is composed of water, a starch-based binder, a retrogradation inhibitor, salt, lubricant, surfactant, preservative, hardener, humectant, fragrance, and color. A petroleum additive gives the compound a smooth feel, and borax prevents mold from developing."
Of course I had a Gumby way back when I was eating Play-Doh (always in moderation) and I think I liked my Gumby, but not that much. Or maybe it was very much indeed and I was scarred somehow--I really can't recall. I don't remember ever owning a Pokey before, either. For that matter. What is clear in my mind is that Gumby's legs would bend up to the back of his head; Gumby did backbends; Gumby could almost come to seem woven. Gumby, now, no. A disappointment; but, so far as it was mine, quite trivial**. I only pity the poor kids trying to figure out how to have fun with it, because the toy of Today is stacked against them.
* "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by NBC Universal."
** Come to think of it, I believe I might have had a Pokey with a wire exposed.