Issue 51

Two Possessions


                Skylar has recently become a very rich little boy: he now has two possessions.

                Being able to have two toys to play with at any time has changed his life tremendously.  Back in the days of toys in the mouth, Skylar could only have one possession at a time, and that was the one he was currently slobbering over.  When he got tired of it, he would have to lay it aside to pick up another toy.  But two toys. That changes everything.  He can put one in his mouth while he holds the other toy ready.  Or he can put the other toy in his mouth and hold the first in reserve.  Or he can just hold both of them while he decides which one he wants.  Two. The possibilities are endless.

                Of course, along with the joy of any great discovery comes the realization of consequences, of the price you have to pay for success.  For example, when Skylar had only one possession and he wanted a different one, the exchange was simple.  Throw the current toy and grab the next one.  With two possessions, however, Skylar now faces a very difficult choice: Which of the two toys he currently possesses – the red block or the blue block – will he discard to pick up the green block?  Green and red go very well together but then again, so do green and blue.  Or should he stay with red and blue?  One can lose valuable sucking time having to make important considerations like this, but it’s much better than dropping the wrong toy and regretting it later.

                Another consequence of being so rich is that Skylar has seen his ability to get around reduced.  Crawling with a block in each hand is a sign of great affluence, but it does cut down on speed.  There’s also the problem of when the slippery surface of a block meets with the slick surface of a throw rug.  Suddenly the possession slips out in front of him and down he goes, chin to the floor.  There’s no crying over an accident like this.  The rich have more important things to worry about.

                For a short while, so Skylar has learned, he can postpone his decision of which two toys he will limit his possessions to by sitting and playing in same area.  Then he can have many, many possessions, all in a huge mound.  He can also upgrade to megapossessions – possessions even adults can’t carry around – like sandboxes or wooden train sets.  You wouldn’t want to carry toys like this anyway.  Except, of course, if you want to play with the blocks in the sandbox.  The megacollection of blocks is in the bedroom and the sandbox is outside.  Moving the blocks can be done, two at a time.

                I can hardly imagine Skylar’s delight when he discovers that he can store possessions in his plastic push car.  The seat comes off and has room for at least four blocks.  The push car is also faster than crawling. And that’s just the start of things to come.  I used to have a toy chest I dragged around when I was young so that I could dump my blocks anywhere I wanted.  But it wasn’t until I was eighteen and got my first truck that things really changed. I could carry everything I owned, even all my megapossessions like my bed and refrigerator.  And then there was my first apartment that had a storage space down in the garage.  I could pack and pack and pack until I could hardly remember what possessions I had.

                The most satisfying leap was when I bought my first house.  I laid a plywood floor in the attic and suddenly I never had to choose between possessions again.  I could keep them all, from old college textbooks to the National Geographic Society magazine legacy started by my great grandfather (missing only the March 1962 issue which the dog ate).  Cardboard boxes, I have come to realize, are the toy chests of the truly rich adult.

                I smile when I look at my little boy and daydream about all of the things he will be able to accumulate in his lifetime, about how soon his life will be filled with so much more than two.  Skylar, two possessions in hand, looks up at me.  Then he returns his focus back the red block and green block he holds, locked in a difficult decision.

                Because even for all his cleverness, he can still only suck on one of them at a time.


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