First of all, I apologize for my pathetic last post. To make-up for it, I am prepared to divulge information about one of the darkest times in my life. That’s right, the mid-nineties.
I was a lucky kid growing up. I was able to partake in the majority of toy crazes. I had a pretty awesome collection of Beanie Babies, pogs, and Pokemon cards. I took special care of my Furby and Tamigotchi (although they did get thrown in the closet when they wouldn’t shut up). I assumed these toys were the result of honest work and steady paychecks. Boy was I wrong.
One day, I was getting off the bus when I saw my mom surrounded by a bunch of our neighbors. She was holding a backpack and taking money from the other women. I approached cautiously, unsure that I wanted to discover my mom’s secret life as a drug dealer. What I found was worse.
She was a toy dealer.
The popularity of these 90’s toys had driven demand much higher than supply. Toy stores fielded calls from desperate parents demanding to know when the next shipment would be. Families lined up hours before opening just for the chance to get their hands on Garcia the Beanie Baby bear.
My mom was among those parents. Now, I don’t think I ever demanded any of these toys. I was the kind of kid who was happy with a cardboard box. But mom still got caught up in the craze.
Somewhere between wrestling over the last pink Furby and buying tag protectors for every single one of our Beanie Babies, my mom snapped. I think it was a combination of the false speculation that the value of these collectibles would one day be through the roof and the fact that she had not yet gone back to work. My brother and I were both finally in school full-time and suburbia can do crazy things to a person.
She had started out slow: picking up an extra pack of Pokemon cards or two when she was out shopping. She’d sell these to her friends who had been unable to find any for their own kids. But then it got more serious.
Soon my mom was leaving the house before we even got on the bus to stand in line at Toys’R’Us. She would scoop up as many Tamigotchis as possible and then sell them for a couple bucks above market price to make a profit.
She’d fill my old Jansport backpack with her wares and troll around all the moms at the bus stop. Word quickly spread that my mom had the goods and she was soon getting calls from friends of friends searching for Peanut the Elephant.
We amassed a collection of toys in our garage that we were not allowed to even touch. Things got especially crazy around the holidays: people would drive their minivans into our driveway in the middle of the night for secret transactions they would eventually attribute to Santa on Christmas morning.
My mom’s been out of the game for awhile, but I still catch her staring wistfully at our collection of Beanie Babies collecting dust in the basement. We’ve donated quite a few of them, but my mom still hangs on to the majority. I think she’s waiting for the day that the US suffers an economic collapse and Beanie Babies are the only viable form of currency.