Today I was having dinner at Chipotle with two friends and this mother and her little son sat down on the table next to us. The boy was probably around 4-5 years old, and he had extremely adorable unruly curly hair. His mother bought him some foodstuff, but he was barely even looking as she noisily opened the brown paper bag full of textured, processed nacho chips.
That's because he was staring intently at a colorful box sitting in front of him. It was adorned with tantalizing pictures of a giant, loopy race track, and it depicted sleek, modernistic cars zipping through the impossible curves of the structure. He tilted his head a little bit and gazed at it in infinite wonder. Irresistible. He looked at his mother, who delicately opened the box as he held on to the edges, perhaps afraid it would crumble.
Out it came - bright yellow pieces of plastic, four tiny cars with microfeatures carved on them. He was smiling now. She assembled the thing, pieces satisfactorily clicking into place. And the 5-year old boy had his first grand prix, right in Westwood in the middle of a bustling restaurant.
But the main reason I wrote this is the toy reminded me, all of a sudden, of this very similar penguin roller coaster I used to own as a kid. Basically, there were these little penguins on tiny wheels that would climb on a motorized escalator, and once at the top they would roll down on a bunch of loops.
(To my incredible surprise, I googled "penguin roller coaster toy" and this amazing video popped up. It shows how this great toy worked)
That little boy made my evening.