e pops the cap on the plastic garbage can and dumps the contents on the carpet. Several small plastic figurines tumble out like dead bodies. They’re pink. The kind of pink that toy companies always associate with the colour of human flesh, only it’s more like the Pepto-Bismol his mom used to force down his throat when he got tummy aches.
He examines each one carefully, between thumb and forefinger, lining them up on the carpet like little soldiers. To the uninitiated, they might look identical. The same strange fins on their head, the same clown-like lips and wrestling underpants. But each one has minute differences. A cocked elbow, a change in texture around the pectorals, a particular slant to one eye.
He remembers the trips to Woolworth’s to buy them. Wading downtown through snow to get there. Holding each garbage can container up to the light, trying to peer through the opaque material and see what treasures lurked inside. Daydreaming all the walk home, holding mom’s hand, about what new figurines he might find.
He pulls a glass jar out of the closet. One by one he takes the old figurines out, holding them next to the new ones, comparing. They are mostly repeats, but he does find one he hasn’t seen before. Four arms, one with a shield, another with a sword.
He puts this one in the jar with the rest. The extras he’ll bring down to the basement later and toss in the Rubbermaid container with all the other repeats.
He holds the jar up. He has two hundred and thirty-two originals now. Only four left to get the whole set. His mom used to buy them for a few bucks. Now he sifts through online auctions for hours, paying fifty bucks a pop for unopened containers to be mailed to him delicately from all over the world. He doesn’t know what he’ll do when he has them all.
He tried to get the kids to play with them. The way he used to for hours. The things scattered all over the house, turning up in every cupboard and cranny, his mother yelling at him to just put them away for chrissakes. Going out into the neighbourhood to dump them on humpbacked asphalt driveways and trade with his friends.
But his kids aren’t interested. What do they do, they ask. What are they good for?
And he has no answers. They don’t do anything. They don’t have any vehicles. Their limbs aren’t poseable. You can’t dress them. There are no epic storylines. They were just a bunch of unusually small creatures. They just were. He has no answers. Maybe the world has run out of imagination.
Remember when you were a minipop, and you saw that film, you know, the one you loved that never had a sequel? Well, let's say it did. And it was just like you imagined it, only a little bit worse.