Monday, January 19, 2004

better when i wondered

In the back pages of late 70's Marvel Comics, I would come across the marvelous advertisement that showed a happy family of Sea Monkeys (with the ladies complete with blonde hair).

Young and imaginative, I dreamed about providing a home for these wonderful creatures, thinking of all the time I could spend watching them express their own aquatic joie de vivre as they zoomed in and out of their underwater castle. I imagined their tiny lives, how they would fall in love, have a family and swim in utter happiness.

I never got to order them though. At that time, having comics was rare enough in itself; ordering something from the ads was an impossible dream. But dream I did.

Instead, I developed a love for tropical fish (switching to fresh water after the tragically heart-rending destruction of my salt water aquarium by my detergent-wielding cousin). They were easily accessible and relatively inexpensive (if you didn't need to possess the high profile fish - agressive Oscars, darting Rainbow Sharks, delicate kissing Gouramis). But it was a love that faded over time. I really wanted Sea Monkeys, but abandoned the notion of ever having them. I moved on with life.

Later, someone asked me if I would like to have some brine shrimp. Before I could decline, he told me that's what Sea Monkeys really were. Shocked, I could only nod in ecstasy. I couldn't wait until he delivered them.

When I got them, I raised the plastic container and searched for the likenesses emblazoned into my mind by four-color ink and the palette of dreams. But where I hoped to see happy faces, I found tiny things that darted around and bore no resemblance whatsoever to what I expected.

I gave them back to m friend.

Looking back now, I realize how a little ad can affect a person. I felt robbed and cheated, yes. But that little ad also contributed to how I think and imagine.

Yes, my hope was shattered when I finally saw the thing for what it was - ugly and inelegant, void of blonde hair.

And yes, perhaps a retroactive complaint can be made with the internation truth-in-advertising people.

But while I now have the truth, I can always look back to the lie and relive the joy of fantasy. To me, Sea Monkeys will always have little faces, swim in family groups and have dazzling smiles.

The truth is irrelevant - it has no power.

Wonder always wins, hands down.


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