Monday, July 24, 2006

My Island Of Misfit Toys

Think back to the Christmastime of your childhood and recall a favorite film – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Among many of the classic lines (ie., “Let’s be independent together!”) falls one of the more classic locations in the make believe world – The Island of Misfit Toys. An island filled with toys that no one wants or no one understands. An island with no visitors but plenty of full-time residents united in their own idiosyncracies of behavior, usage, and design.

In search of more information on this imaginary island, I looked to the internet. The island itself, though location remains undisclosed, is only described as an island sanctuary where defective and unwanted toys are sent. Residents include trains, elephants, boats, and birds, all with defects or features rendering them undesirable or useless. My favorite is the Misfit Cowboy, who confused finds himself riding an ostrich rather than a horse. Most interestingly, the Misfit Doll’s presence on the island is never explained and rumor has it that her problem was more psychological than physical. Apparently the island embraces all kinds.

I’d like to have my own island of misfit toys, remote and distant adrift in one of the oceans blue. However, on my island, I would not send toys. Instead, I would exile the increasingly growing number of misfits and oddballs that frequently surround my little suburban world.

I’ve been keeping a list and I’ve been checking it more than twice. Naughty or nice? Not relevant here. It’s more a question of did you respond to the green light and how quickly? My criteria is complicated, my attitude ambivalent, and judgments grossly out of control. But keep your own list for a week and you’ll find it quickly fills with people that just tend to irk you, jab you, get under your skin little by little until you realize your skin is filled with an uncontrollable itchiness of the irritability of these misfits.

And now I will unveil my list. My apologies if you find yourself fitting into any one of these categories. Rest assured, you’d probably find me on someone else’s island, sitting under a coconut tree in a skirt made of grass writing a message in a bottle to my husband, send coffee soon…

• If you slow down in the I-Pass lane. Why. Why do you do this. Your I-Pass will beep no matter how fast you go. To test this theory, my co-worker blew through the lane going over 100 mph. The transponder beeped. Go faster. You are turning the governor’s one attempt at tollway efficiency into a crowded mess. Please stop that. And pick it up.

• If you live in Wheaton, drive a tan-colored Lexus SUV, and have hurled profanities at me while I was riding along County Farm Road. What did you gain by yelling at me? Or were you just trying to tell me that you and your 2000 lbs of steel were bigger and better than me and my 19 lbs of aluminum framing?

• If you are that guy that buzzed me a few weeks ago heading up Warrenville Road. First of all, I was doing an easy, recovery ride. Second of all, I passed you because you were going too slow. Third, you only passed me because I passed you and when you did pass you had to get into your big ring, stomping up the hill only to explode at the top and swerve into traffic. Hope you enjoyed the buzz, buster.

• If you drink decaf anything. Why do you hurt coffee’s feelings this way? Have you no compassion for letting coffee do what it was intended to do?

• If you honked at me while I was running down Warrenville Road at 5 am. What gives? Was I really in your way as I ran on the 3 inches of shoulder? Was it not enough that you had two whole lanes of traffic to yourself that you had to honk at me while I was relaxing with my run? Should I pull into your driveway tonight and blow my horn like a maniac while you relax and watch t.v.?

• If you tell me that I’m over 30 now and need to be having kids. Oh really? Have you been talking with my ovaries?

• If you called me the other day at work to ask if the mosquitoes would be out that day. As if I knew. As if I could call up the commander of the mosquito military and ask if they would be invading that day. Alternatively, if you call me in the autumn to ask when the leaves change color. As if the trees tell me. As if we turn a switch and the color comes on. Go back to grade school science and you tell me when the color will turn.

• If you are that guy in the pool that has been swimming in the lane next to me for about 3 years now that does something that is not even remotely close to freestyle and does not wear goggles and wipes their eyes after every stroke. It hurts my eyes to watch you. Please – buy goggles! My eyes! My eyes!

• If you were that kid driving the Toyota Echo early in the morning out of Lisle and you honked at me and cut me off. I bet you didn’t think I would chase you down Yackley, stop at the light, and flip you the bird. Well I did. So take that.

• If you were that woman that moved my bike at the track, without asking me as I stood right there, so you could get to your towel. Did I come up to you and touch you and your belongings? Did you want me to impale you with my aerobars?


If you were in the Home Depot self-checkout line the other night and you were tapping the credit card machine with the plastic pen to make it go faster. Why would that make it go faster? How about you tap your own head and get it right - it would have gone faster if you had just followed directions and pressed the ‘finish and pay’ button in the first place. And when I pointed that out to you, politely, you said ‘I hate these things’. Then don’t get into that line in the first place.

This list is by no means exhaustive. It’s a work in progress, it’s ever-changing. One day you might find yourself on my island while the next day Hermey the Misfit Elf is pulling up a fancy yacht to come and set you free as he pours on your shoulder, “I wanted to be an orthodontist.” But take no offense, I’m sure I fit in nicely on your own island of misfit toys or whatever you happen to be harboring that day.

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