When I was little, maybe eight or nine, I was given a small blue remote-control truck. It had a hard, plastic top with sleek curves, chunky rubber tires on silly plastic axles and a mysterious clear, plastic rectangle on the undercarriage. The antenna came off the roof about eight inches and fed a bodacious remote—snake skinned and fanged with a clunky red button on top.
The remote filled my hand and propped up my thumbs. Left for throttle, right for steering. Although it was heavy from the double “A” batteries inside, I held the remote for the excruciatingly long five hours until the main battery pack was charged. Always the shtick—batteries sold separately and remember, forget to charge it before you give it to the kids.
Once the pack was in place, I hit the throttle and the tiny wheels started to squeal with gleeful rage, “Put me down, you son of a so-and-so!”
I yell to my dad, “Put it down! Put it down!”
But no, he was cooler than that. He was always cooler than that. He didn’t say a word, but he flipped the truck over, popped the little mysterious clear plastic square off and away from the undercarriage. It was now an even more mysterious clear plastic rectangle he was holding in his hand.
With one swift move, he’s at the kitchen sink. The water is a slow and steady, a pencil thin stream into the heart of the rectangle. Truck in one hand, water in the other—my tiny mind rejected the notion of their union, but he did it anyway.
A small click rings through the air and the rectangle fits back into the monster truck; my dad puts the vehicle down. I hit the gas and the plastic vessel shoots directly into a wall. I try to back it up, but just end up smashing into my toes with the chunky tires. Worried about his paint, my dad decided to move our party outside.
We had a deck on the back of the house that at the time seemed huge, and at least twelve feet off the ground. The last time I was in Grande Prairie, I drove by. Seems like half the human equaled twice the deck; it's actually pretty small and maybe only three feet off the grass.
We whipped the car around the yard at break neck speeds, being flipped by rocks and rolling for days. My dad was a much better driver than me, but to be fair—he had been driving for three times longer than I had been alive. I couldn't keep it going in a straight line, always veering to the left or right, and when I wanted to turn, it was never quick enough. That's when I remembered the clunky red button.
My trembling finger reached for the sharp corner on the button and squeezed. The truck in front of me gave a leap and transformed into something that actually earned the name, "monster truck."
A red bellied cobra with eyes of fire and a mouth full of nozzle emerged in a snap of spring loaded glory from the back of my little blue toy. With each joyous squeeze of the trigger, the beast vomited water from the crystal tank deep within its belly onto the targets ahead, seconds before taking them over with the chunky rubber of the tires. It was like Mad Max meets Clash of the Titans in my backyard.
I probably squealed with joy, I was that type of kid. I soaked my dad's ankles, and he soaked mine with the proficiency of Jeff Gordon, if he were a mobile sniper. The beast lived inside and soaked many sisters over the weeks; it terrorized the drywall and annoyed anyone in the house for an appreciable amount of time, until the day I decided that I needed to prove my driving proficiency.
With my little sister as my witness, I gathered the beast and wrestled it back into its earthly cage. The blue truck shone in the sun as we weathered the breeze on the deck. I placed the four chunky wheels on the narrow ledge of the guard rail. The goal was simple: prove my worth by imitating the commercial. I'd drive in a perfectly straight line at a slow speed and when I reached the midway point, I'd release the cobra and his venom before zooming away off the other side. It was simple. A cakewalk.
My thumb pressed the throttle forward and the truck began to move, a little fast for my liking, but I had this licked. There was a small veer to the right and I corrected just enough at the halfway mark to feel comfortable about it. I reached for the clunky red button and unleashed the monster. With a triumphant leap, my prized possession sailed through air as it transformed—unsheathing at the perfect moment to slam shut again when the truck landed on its back.
The crack was sickening. I rushed down the steps into the grass and flipped the toy. I try the joysticks, but the truck just sits there clicking. My finger trembles again as I reach for the clunky button, like the first time all over and I excitedly squeeze the sharp edges down into the remote.
The beast has been sealed in its tomb. Never again did I look into it’s eyes. I never got to spit venom one last time onto my mother's kitchen floor. Never again could I think of my little blue monster truck. #melodrama
Luckily, kids aren't sentimental and shortly after chucking that shit out, I got a Sega Game Gear. Full colour screen, bro.
Writer, performer, producer and musician from Alberta.