Thursday, September 20, 2007
Lead in Toys
When I was growing up, there was lead in the paint on the walls which surrounded me in my house and in school. For jollies, we shot bent paperclips into the acoustic tile and practically ate the asbestos which fell from the ceiling. After school, us boys would ride our bikes home and run out onto the freeway construction zone and play among all the backhoes and heavy machines. It was great. It was paradise. When we got tired of playing in the dirty work area, we'd go back and play with our Major Matt Mason figures. We relished in the way things worked, so we would bend the limbs back and forth rapidly to get them to snap-off, exposing a hard and lethal wire frame -- a metal armature running through the Major kept him heroically stiff and action pliable. With good hard play, the Major would lose his paint detailing. Where that lead paint went I never knew. I know I did not put the Major in my mouth. Even then, I knew that was gay. And as far as I knew then, I wasn't gay, though I had gay friends. Look, it was Catholic school, where many boys discover such things. I liked girls -- and I was pretty sure that putting Major Matt Mason in my mouth would not lure girls my way. Truthfully, I probably tasted some lead toys at a much earlier age and decided it wasn't very smart to do so. Perhaps I lost a brain cell or two. But somehow, I knew that Communion wafers were okay and that lead painted toys were not okay. Why can't kids learn that today? Where have we failed? We have raised boys who are afraid to play on the freeway as it's being built. As I think back on when this trend started, it was shortly after society started acknowledging and condemning promiscuous behavior at the same time. Kids today are mixed up: they don't know if they are coming or going. They are taught to say no to drugs, but then see their parents or teachers indulging in them. I suggest we simply let our kids explore the wilderness of youth -- it teaches them all kinds of subtle stuff and weeds the herd along the way. I remember being taught "caveat emptor" at an early age. Heck, I remember being able to buy caustic chemicals for my chemistry set at the local drugstore -- by myself! Now as an adult I can't even buy an antihistamine without having to go to the counter to ask the pharmacist, show my driver's license and leave a thumbprint. I say, let the lead toys in. China needs to reduce their cost of goods to give our market a fair price. If that means a few lead toys make it into the playroom, so what? What's a little lead in our diet? Honestly. Some folk act like eating lead will make you gay. As I said, I have friends who are gay -- and lead in their toys had nothing to do with it. Next thing you know they'll be regulating plastics because it makes girls more fertile. Incidentally, that much is true. I left an Arrowhead bottle on my wife's nightstand and five weeks later she was pregnant.