A very good evening to all my present and future friends and enemies. My name is Jason Chirevas. To date, some of you know me as JJJason or, if we’ve been accquainted long enough, as The Commissioner. I don’t believe it too wild a guess to say, in many ways, I’m nothing like anyone who reads these words. However, I feel it is no guess at all to say, in one way, I’m exactly like each and every one of you.
I collect action figures. Lots of them. And so do you.
I turned 30 late last year and immediately fell ill for the next two months. I guessed that was just the way of things. You turn 30, you hit the wall. Not much to look forward to from here, not physically, anyway. Just one slow burn for a body that was highly flammable to start. All those years of non-exercise and Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese had, strangely, not prepared me for the official onset of adulthood and the flu-like symptoms accompanying it. I was 30, sick, and feeling 65.
Except for the toys.
One day on the couch, in the midst of body aches and swallowing snot, I had occasion to glance around the living room while Dr. Phil was on a commercial. It hit me then, as it never had before, just how many action figures surrounded me. The top of the entertainment center, toys. On top of the twin DVD storage units, toys. On top of the bright read retail store shelf I swiped from Tower Video during my five-year odyssey in their employ, toys. On the floor, boxes of toys. On other areas of the floor, toys without benefit of box. The coffee table, piles of toys. My desktop, toys. My monitor, toys. My bookcase, toys. The window sill? Yes, toys there too (but they’re part of a really cool Toy Story display, I promise you.). I suddenly felt very closed in…and very immature. I was newly 30, sick, felt 65, alone at home, Dr. Phil was on commercial, and little plastic men, women, monsters and robots surrounded me.
And that was just the living room. I won’t even address the bedroom. Closet space? Nonexistent.
What’s the meaning of all this? What am I doing? What is the point of all this buying, all this storing, this displaying, this selling to make room for more? There was no point I could see from my position on the couch. I coughed and swallowed some more mucus, but the toys didn’t move away. Toys. They’re not alive, but they sure can crowd a guy when he’s sick and feeling vulnerable.
About a month later, I was on the mend. My 30th year no longer felt like it would be my last and, somehow, my action figure largess wasn’t a burden. I doubt I even thought of how they’d haunted me as I manned the couch for Dr. Phil.
Oh, it’s about parents who enter their kids in pageants. I love being annoyed by this.
By now, you must have realized there’s something missing. When the hell does this jackass go to work? They answer is I don’t. At least, not in the traditional sense. About, let’s see now, six years ago, I stopped working to fulfill my dream since the first grade; writing for a living. Since leaving college after a year that saw my major transition from literature to driving to school and sleeping in my car in the parking lot, I’d worked as a retail supervisor, movie theater manager, undercover investigator for a management consulting firm, back to retail (this time as an assistant manager) then, finally, as a reporter for a courthouse-based news service. In 1999, my wife (then my fiance) and I thought she was making enough money as an administrative assistant for us to pay all our bills and allow me to sit home and write.
I’ll wait until you stop laughing before I go on.
Yeah, it didn’t really, how you say….? Ah yes. Work out.
It took a good five years before I produced anything of merit. In the interim, we had no money, periodically fought like caged animals, and barely a keystroke was struck. Chasing my dream turned out to be a great deal harder than I thought it would be, for it was in much better shape than I. I’ve broken through a bit in the last year, even signed a few contracts, however fruitless. But, for about five years there, I was a Class A Zero.
But somehow, some way, through all the procrastination and outright nothingness, the toys continued to arrive. I’m 30, it’s taken me five years to feel like I’m worth a damn, my wife’s put herself through massage therapy school in the meantime, and our home is choking with toys.
Where does it end? Does it end?
My wife and I are planning to have a baby soon. Later this year, we will attempt to conceive our first child. You see, while I was doing not but buying toys, my wife has earned more and more money, been promoted several times, been laid off, gotten a better job with a better company and become a licensed massage therapist in her nonexistent spare time. Now, we actually do have enough money for me to stay at home and write, and I’ve actually done that, more or less. Much to my own surprise, I’m ready to be a father now. I don’t know how it happened, but it happened late last year, perhaps while Dr. Phil was on a commercial. If you’d asked me a year ago today when I wanted to have kids, I’d have given you an answer, but it would have been a petrified lie. The prospect of having a child absolutely terrified me. And now it doesn’t. Now, I’m 30, a writer in the strictest sense, my wife’s a massage therapist with a lucrative 9 to 5, there’s a kid in the planning stages and there are two dozen action figures in any direction.
Grave’s Disease. My wife was diagnosed with it a month ago. For those who may not know, Grave’s Disease is not as literal as the name implies. Basically, it means the inconvenience of taking a handful of pills several times a day and the knowledge you got away without it being something more serious. This time. It also means the baby making won’t commence until my wife’s hormone levels stabilize. It’s not fun when the person you love most on earth is sick with something that has a proper name. Even though it’s nothing debilitating, I’ve thought of little but what I’d do if the name of some other disease had passed a doctor’s lips.
What if I end up alone?
And so, here I am. I’m 30, still feeling guilty calling myself a writer, my wife, the successful corporate project manager/licensed massage therapist, has Grave’s Disease, we’re supposed to have a baby and, as I sit here writing these words, I have 19 wrestling figures, Big Guy & Rusty The Boy Robot, and a Wyatt Earp figurine staring at me.
What do I do now?
Because the above description is not just who I am, it’s who I want to be.
And that’s what we’ll talk about here. Who I am, who you are and how these little plastic men, women, monsters and robots got to be such a part of our lives.
I collect action figures. Lots of them. And so do you.
Got a comment? Send me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!