Everybody knows girls aren’t attracted to guys who collect action figures, or any other “toy” in the traditional sense of the word. Toys remain the preoccupation of lonely man-children who inhabit a world wholly without meaningful female companionship apart from, perhaps, a healthy (or unhealthy) relationship with their mothers. This is the stereotype and the commonly held belief. And we see it reinforced in movies like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” and in TV shows like “The Big Bang Theory.” It was this belief that was key in my giving up collecting for a number of years and in my shifting my attentions to areas and activities that weren’t so absolutely devoid of esteem from the opposite sex. Most toys from my youth were thrown out or sold, and whatever interest I had was quelled with the understanding that this was for the best (translation: getting laid moved to top priority and anything that could potentially hinder that was thrown in a Hefty bag.) Fortunately, and amazingly, I would go on to meet and fall in love with a girl who helps me to defy this stereotype.
Faith, known on The Fwoosh as Canongirl, and I met at a club in Denver in the fall of 2005, the details of which should probably be taken to our graves. I was living alone at the time and working as a club DJ and as a student teacher in a public high school in the Denver area while earning my Masters degree. I was not actively collecting toys at the time, but I did have a few I had randomly picked up, mostly at Target, sitting on shelves throughout my apartment. This did not bother her and, in fact, I was soon to discover that she also had a small collection of toys displayed on a shelf in her own apartment. She called it her “fun shelf” and when I saw it, particularly her Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Donatello action figure, I felt an excitement in the knowledge that she was cool with this stuff and it wasn’t something I needed to hide, or, worse yet, apologize for.
Whenever we went shopping, we made sure to take a detour through the toy aisle, just for fun. We’d look at this and that, point out what we liked to one another, and then move on. We never bought anything. Neither one of us had the most stable of incomes at the time, so that was probably a factor in our admiring what we saw from afar. That pattern was not going to hold, however, as I finally broke down and bought a Marvel Legends Wolverine, and then we were given a crash course in Marvel Legends at a local con. I bought a few more, and that was it; I, no – WE – were hooked. Uh oh…
The following weekend I suggested we hit a few Targets and I had one thing in mind – Marvel Legends. We made the rounds, I bought a few more figures, and in the parking lot of one of the stores I turned to her and told her she was a good sport for putting up with me while running from store-to-store checking out the toy aisles. Her reaction? “Tomorrow, let’s hit FIVE stores!” What did I do to deserve this? How did I get so lucky? This was amazing. Not only would she tolerate the fact that I liked to collect toys, but she was downright encouraging. It’s not supposed to work out like this, right? But it did. I looked at myself in my bathroom mirror the following morning, and was reminded of Peter Parker’s first encounter with Mary Jane – “Face it, Tiger – You just hit the jackpot.” Darn right I did.
Now CG frequently accompanies me on my toy runs. Even when she can’t, she likes to hear if my trips were productive or not. To be honest, though, toy runs are better with her because she gets as excited as I do when we find something, and she has a habit of spotting things before I do while we stand side by side in the aisle. And I love seeing her get all excited when she spots something; it’s endearing in ways I can’t even say. It’s the best.
I know how lucky I am. Most guys don’t have someone to share this with. It’s often relegated to a back room or a basement or treated as something that doesn’t really exist. In my case, this is something the two of us share and have fun with. When I was a kid, this was a daydream, but something I believed to be truly impossible. The reality of it still blows me away every day, and now I wish I hadn’t stuffed those Hefty bags as full as I did way back when. Because I didn’t have to.