When I was 7 years old if you cornered me and forced me to answer the question who was my best friend, assuming I answered at all, I would tell you Optimus Prime. I had a Power Master version of the popular toy so I knew he would always protect me. I would never give a human name.
I kept that same answer well into my teen years. My best friend growing up was a toy. My mom would have given you different answers. At 7 she might have said that kid Marvin. To her I went to his house and bonded every day. To me he was a gateway to a boat load of Gobots toys. I picked all my friends growing up solely on the toys they had. I wasn’t interested in the person, people didn’t register in my brain. I wanted their toys, video games or comic books.
As a teenager I started to get overwhelmed with hormones and lectures on being a true friend. I had a desire to make friends, but I kept falling into the same trap. My friends were people who had toys I wanted to play with. Israel was into breakdancing as was I so he became the first friend I had with a shared interest rather than object, but he also had a GameCube so there is that.
Then there were the dark times. By the time I was in my twenties my friends had learned what I was doing. They began to shun me. We’d hang out sometimes and they’d laugh about how weird I was. I was a form of entertainment for them. An oddity they kept around because it amused them.
A couple of years ago I looked back on my life and realized I never connected with any of the. Ask me their names I can answers you. Ask me any details about them and you’ll here which one had a Sega, an Xbox or a Playstation. Who had the iPod and who had a PSP. I can tell you the movies they had on their book shelf. I can tell you what car they drove. Which alcoholic beverage was their preferred poison. Ask me a personal detail like their favorite color, their mothers name, how many siblings they had, or even their birthday and I draw a blank. I don’t connect with people. I connect with things.
This is why I collect toys. I can relate to toys. They are oddities people put on a shelf and only bring out when it amuses them to do so. Toys are caricatures of people, sometimes represented by anthropomorphic animals or robots. That sums me up. But they are things. I relate to things. I don’t relate to people.
Earlier this year was the first time in 38 years of living I truly connected with another person. I can tell you few details about my sister Robin. I connected with her toys before I connected with her but she understood and kept working with me. I am growing because of her. I still have a ways to go though.
I used to day dream about winning the lottery then moving into a house in the woods on top of a mountain in Montana where I could live, alone, with my toys, comic books, video games, trading cards and other things. I didn’t ever imagine there would be other people there. I never fantasized about getting married. I day dreamed at what age would I introduce my kids if I ever had any to Nintendo. Would I give them a Sega first or let them pick between the two? Would I buy them Transformers or force them to try Gobots before moving on? Even when I tried to picture a romantic partner I didn’t imagine what vacations would we take, what our wedding would be like or how we would raise the kids, it was all superficial things. Toys. How many pets would we have. Would we have a swimming pool. Would we have a wet bar and a pool table or a study?
Even now as I slowly begin to develop an intense relationship with a woman I am falling deeply in love with, I still struggle. I wish I could be better. I wish I could get closer to her, my sister or any of my other friends. I just don’t connect well with people. I connect with things.
The woman I love is not a thing to me. She is the first human, no offense Robin, that has broken through the barrier I placed over my heart. And let me tell you that was a solid 12 foot tall adamantium barrier. That’s how much she’s melted my heart. It might take me longer to get there than she wants but I am trying. I wish I new why I couldn’t connect with people. Why toys are more real to me than my own friends. But until then all I know is I am grateful I found at least one person who broke through to me. I also know why I have a hard time letting go of my toys. They aren’t things to me, they are my friends.