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Mail-Order Friends?

September 22, 2011

Today’s post started out to be about the things I ordered as a kid (or, more often, wished I could’ve ordered) from cereal boxes and magazines.  But I’ll save that post for another day.  Another day when I can find a picture of the exact same I’m Cuckoo For Cocoa Puffs!  nightgown I sported in 4th grade.


What happened is, I got a bit sidetracked when I started reflecting on my unrelenting desire to order Sea-Monkeys.  And then I decided that my quest for Sea-Monkeys went far beyond all my others quests for mail-in-order-allow-six-to-ten-weeks-for-delivery-thing-a-ma-jigs.  No, with Sea-Monkeys I was hoping for something beyond just a super-ball that bounced 50 feet in the air.  A friend maybe?  Yes!

But, more specifically, a friend who might resemble a Muppet. 

Now I have an embarrassing confession to make.  I actually believed the Sea-Monkeys drawing in the advertisement I saw on the inside back cover of my Archie comic books.  And I’m not talking about believing this at age four.  This was more like at age seven or eight.  I was certain if I ordered Sea Monkeys, I would get some companion creatures in the mail resembling these guys:

“Always clowning around.”  “So eager to please, they can even be trained.”  “The most adorable pets ever to bring smiles, laughter and fun into your home.”  And they’re not just random strangers crammed in a jar – no, LOOK!  They’re a family.  One of them even wears a little bow in her hair and has the exact blond flip ‘do of Charlie Brown’s sister Sally.  That’s how you can tell which one is the mom.

Unfortunately, my mom (who by the way never wore a bow in her hair, much to my disappointment) was not in favor of giving me the $1.25 to bring this family home to live with us.  Fine print:  please include $9.95 shipping & handling.  Probably something to do with the fact that I didn’t keep my fishbowl clean.  And that I had at least five other pets in our house to love.  But Sea-Monkeys were different!  They were exotic.  And they were practically human.  Here, take another look.

Maybe it was the word “monkey” that threw me for a loop.  I read “monkey” and I thought “primate.”  And we all know what a fantastic friend Clyde was in the movie Every Which Way But Loose.  Maybe my Sea-Monkeys would pal around with me like Clyde, ride along on a road trip or two.  Even volunteer to take the center hump so I could have the window seat.  (“Right turn, Clyde!”)  What a pal, that Clyde.

And there were other “unusual friends” that inspired my quest for Sea-Monkeys as well.  Thanks to TV and movies, I got a sense that having unusual friends was the cat’s pajamas!   All the cool kids were doing it!

Like E.T., I probably hoped my Sea-Monkeys would enjoy eating Reese’s Pieces with me after trick-or-treating on Halloween.  Or, even better, would ride in my bike basket.

But in a kind, compassionate “let me give you a lift” sort of way.  Not in a da-duh-da-duh-da-DA-DA-scary-kidnapping-witch kind of way.  No, I would treat them like equals. 

(For the love of Benji, this is the scariest movie scene ever filmed.) 

Truly.  Equals.  I wasn’t looking for something I’d keep in a cage or an aquarium.  I was looking for creatures who would effortlessly blend into my family.  Such as this guy:

And this one:

Although, they certainly didn’t have to be otherworldly.  I’d even accept a zoo animal friend.  For example, I’d gladly welcome Elsa the Lion to come live with us.  (Throwing a bone to you old-timers here.)

They didn’t even have to be living, breathing creatures.  (I’d like to point out, Number 5 is alive!  Ally Sheedy said so.)

I’d even accept a human unusual friend.  The stress would have to be on “unusual.”  Although, I can’t imagine Amnesty International would allow anyone to send away for a human friend.  Certainly not one who would be delivered to your door.  Not shipped in a box on a UPS truck anyway.  No, that would be cruel.  But perhaps by train?

If we were very good friends, maybe it would turn into something else.  Something, dare I say it, romantic.  Maybe I could later (gasp!) marry one of them (I believe that love overcomes all obstacles):

Sadly, one day, and it was bound to happen eventually, my dream of Sea-Monkeys died.  Yes, just like that, the bubble burst!  (No, don’t worry, not the bubble on the Sea-Monkeys’ aquarium.  Because I never did get my Sea-Monkeys.)

What I mean is, I eventually learned that Sea-Monkeys lacked the complex neural fibers to be my friend.  Much less the opposable thumbs to tie a bow in their own hair.  Much less to have hair.  I learned they were not at all creatures I could bike ride with, road trip with or much less wed on national television.  No, they weren’t monkey-like or even Muppet-like.  Because Sea-Monkeys are really just this:

Outrageous, huh?

You know, now that I think of it, if you sort of squint and blur your eyes and look at them with your head cocked to one side . . . they don’t look too far off from being these beloved guys (who happen to be Muppets – yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, uh-huh, uh-huh):

In that case, maybe I should’ve given Sea-Monkeys a chance.  Because I still believe that love overcomes all obstacles.  Which includes segmented eyes.

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