There is a time when you’re young when your attention can be held by plastic figurines molded to look like Batman, or The Ninja Turtles, or any number of pop culture characters. This means that at Christmas time there’s nothing better than the toy catalogue.
The toy catalogue was the thing I looked forward to all year long. The second it arrived in the mail, my brother, sister, and I would pour over the catalogue in order to pick out the best stuff. There were pirate ships, and castles, race tracks, and bikes.
For a month out of the year, this books was my entire existence. It came with stickers so that you could put them on different toys, and signal to your parents which one you wanted. My mom would tell us to put one sticker on what we wanted most.
My brother and sister quickly picked their favorites, but I took my time. I wanted to make sure that I found the best use for the sticker. I flipped through the pages and carefully examined each of my options. My mom watched as I considered each of my choices.
It was then I realized the opportunity I had before me. This would mark my greatest accomplishment, and I would be able to get everything I ever wanted.
This was my 9th Symphony. My masterpiece. The scheme to end all schemes.
I smiled at my mom and I put the sticker on the cover of the book, which I thought I would signal that I wanted everything within the magazine. I triumphantly handed her the book and went to play outside.
Christmas came and I surveyed the gifts. There were several wrapped boxes, but not nearly the amount there should have been if my plan worked. The three of us sat down and mom handed us our gifts. My brother and sister got theirs but my mom handed me a shallow box. I heard my siblings tearing through their packages and their cheers of delight.
I ripped the paper off and I opened the box.
Inside, there was the toy catalogue with the sticker on the front.
“Well that’s what you wanted wasn’t it?” she asked.
I was ghostly white. I overplayed my hand, and my hubris was my downfall.
My dad started laughing, and my mom took the catalogue. “We’re just kidding. Your presents are one the other side of the tree.”
To that point. I had never been so relieved.