Growing up we were not a wealthy family. Our fun as children came from the odd mud puddle and various sticks, rocks, broken glass, and wild animals (living or dead) we might come across. Games like "Grab the rattle snake" and "How long has this been dead?" were the common games of my youth.
That is until a social worker brought us MONKEY AUTO RACING!
Originally the thought of monkey navigated automobiles stirred something, dare I say, primal in us? The size of the box, and the lack of movement from inside, left us wondering if "how long has this been dead?" might actually be our game for the day.
Removing the outer plastic wrap (and carefully saving it for use as a diaper for the baby) my father of the week handed us the game and gave us all a loving backhanding to send us outside.
With great glee we opened the box to find...no monkeys? Not a single simian dead, alive, or navigating any automobile in the box? Instead four brightly colored vehicles were enclosed along with 4 small hammer like "mini head sticks." Not a monkey to be found anywhere? My brother seeing the weird hammer like mini-sticks swiftly took a blue colored one and rapped me soundly about the head with it!
If you have not seen 2001 a Space Odyssey, there is an opening scene wherein monkey like creatures discover that a bone may be used as a weapon. Then they beat to death, out of new found glory, a fellow monkey. That shining moment (with more natural lighting, no slow motion, and a soundtrack provided by the rumble of 18 wheelers on the interstate) replayed itself thanks to discovery of the mini head stick.
A stunned moment of silence followed as we realized what great fortune we were given. Swiftly removing all the head sticks from the box we proceeded to run around and beat each other senseless. At this point, a mental image of Mint Valley Primary Schools 2003 production of William Golding's "Lord of the Flies" is an appropriate visual.
The neighbor seeing the boyish romp beginning to turn serious called us over during his mid-afternoon respite from auto repair in his front yard. We brought over our new treasure and with oil encrusted hands he made sense of the wiggly lines, angles, and circles we now know as letters and words! By strapping the small hammers to our heads, rather than the original vogue of the right hand, we could push the small cars through a flag lined obstacle course.
At this point, he unstrapped the hammer (mini stick) from my right hand (Mjolnir my friend we savaged many, wait for me in Valhalla!)and wrapped it about my head. Placing a plastic car from the box onto the ground he bade me push it with the mini stick on my head. Dropping to my knees I placed the hammer behind the car ready to see what sort of game this might be. A sharp kick to my hind quarters sent the car and myself flying. The rough guffaws of the neighbor and my brethren from that moment echo through time and haunt me to this day.
Standing, covered in axle grease and grass stains, I slowly removed the mini stick from my head. I then wrapped it around my right hand as nature intended. The Mighty Mjolnir had returned! With a Thor like barbaric YAWP from my eight year old lungs I proceeded to savage the laughing throng.
Whether it was the noble power of Mini-Mjolnir in my tiny right fist, the weight of my foot and the physical might of it striking my neighbor in the nether regions, or the power granted by the burning rage of discovering not one simian navigating the tiny vehicles withing the game, I will leave for my biographer to sort out. Regardless, the neighbor crawled like a dog back into his house writhing with pain. The field of battle emptied quickly I was left alone victorious with only one causality that day...Mjolnir, though mighty in the victory had given its all and broken in the day's combat.
Wistfully those days comeback to me now and though a lingering ache remains at finding no monkeys in the game, I can think of no finer game for instilling in youth today the lessons I learned playing it in my wilder days of yesteryear!