Like we were seven years old, we fought over toys. At the Lash Toy Drive Benefit, generous donors showered Lash with unwrapped toys to be given to children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It is among the poorest areas of the country, just hours from my hometown.
The hardest job was keeping the adults away from the pile of twinkly toys. After all, the presents were supposed to be new. The door person fended off the touchy-feely with a toy light saber that looked real enough to back everyone off.
So what toy was the most coveted? You'd think it would be a Wii or a Guitar Hero controller at the middle of the fight. But the Epicenter of Gimme was a two-feet tall, fat, fuzzy stuffed penguin. Mickey the bartender (not me—one of the other two Mickeys who work there) fell in love with it. Perhaps it reminded him of… actually, I don't want to imagine it. Mickey wrapped his arms tight around the little dude and wouldn't let it go. Sorry if your drinks were slow in coming.
The rest of the staff scrunched up for a hug turn, tugging at his little flipper. (The penguin's, I mean.) I trust we were infusing love into the poor saggy thing (again, the bird), but it looked more like we were wringing it out.
I don't know about the other two participating venues, but this year at Mick's we avoided the unfortunate toy choices of the past: the bow-and-arrow, Little House on The Prairie figurines, the Treaty Kit with Magic Disappearing-Ink Pen, wool blankets, and the General Custer Action Figure with Replaceable Hair.
I contributed a few copies of My Little Golden Book of Property Law.
The gift that fits all sizes—cash—will be used to buy more toys. I told Lash to bring a woman with him this time when he goes shopping, so he doesn't only buy a bunch of Li'l Rustler cap guns, red cowboy hats with the chin strings on them, and those horse-head-on-a-stick toys that look like fun until you get on one.
It's not over yet. You can still drop off toys or cash donations at Mick's until Lash leaves for the Rez, and we still have the radio telethon next Sunday Dec. 15 during Rick Galusha's show on 89.7 The River. Me, Lash, a bunch of musicians and an live open microphone—what could possibly go wrong?