20 most worthless pieces of junk: #16 -- Hobby kits

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balloon bouquetWhen someone gives you a hobby kit, grit your teeth and look out: Either your initial novelty with the pursuit is going to wear off, or the item itself is bound to wear out. Ideally, both things will happen at the same time.

This cycles back to the most essential quandary of gift giving, that most people give you things that THEY like, but that you probably don't. Still, when I received the balloon-animal kit, I had an open mind (even though the fear of pasty-faced clowns scarred me for life as a kid). "If I get good at this, I could make a tyrannosaurus rex for my preschool daughter," I thought. (She likes dinosaurs more than teddy bears, OK? Her favorite is the diplodocus.)But before I could even get started pumping tubes of air into those twisty, twiggy balloons, the flimsy-as-cardboard pump cracked like a stick of stale gum. This to me demonstrated yet another example of how toys made overseas perform inferior to those made in America just a generation ago. Going back to the store for an exchange seemed useless: How long until the next one broke, too? But least this item lived on in a more mischievous incarnation. The kiddos and I filled the balloons with water and chased each other around the back yard.

As for the pump, it got stashed in a junk drawer, which every house has. You don't just stow useless items there, but naïve hopes: Put something in the junk drawer long enough, and it might just magically repair or regenerate itself. Though if the pump starts working again, I'm checking under my bed for visitations from workmanlike, evil circus clowns. Brrrrrrrr!
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