Jimmy Wormley thought it would be different this time.
Last week at Skate ‘N Shake, the Edwardsville resident unwrapped a shiny, new Slinky toy from his friend Stanley Stalegrass as they celebrated Jimmy’s tenth birthday. As the cool metal met his hands, he made a silent promise to himself. He closed his eyes, cradled the toy to his chest, and mouthed the words “This Slinky will last forever.”
Unfortunately, the Slinky was a tangled mess within 45 seconds.
Of course, this wasn’t the first time Jimmy has been devastated by the tangle-prone toy. He received a plastic, rainbow-colored Slinky from Grandma and Grandpa Wormley last year. It lasted all of 27 seconds.
“I fiddled with that damn thing for an hour last year,” said Joe, Jimmy’s father. “Those things can’t be fixed. Even if you do get ‘em untangled they’re all bent to hell. This year I just tossed it in the trash.”
When asked how Jimmy handled the ruined toy this year, Joe became agitated.
“Oh jeez, you should of seen him. He cried and cried right there in front of all ‘is friends and even that little girl he likes–what’s her name?–Jill,” Joe said, spit running down his chin. “I wanted to give him a good smack on the head, but I didn’t. I mean, not until we got home. The boy don’t deserve no working Slinky acting like a little whiny baby.”
According the the famous 1989 National Tangled Slinky Study, conducted by Maxine Styway, Ph.D., the popular toy, invented in the early 1940s, is not known for being sturdy enough to, say, be handed down from father to son.
I examined close to ten thousand Slinky toys over a ten year period and found that in the hands of male children they lasted, on average, 19 seconds before tangling. In the hands of female children, it’s a little higher, where they lasted up to 24 seconds. I found that children enjoy stretching the toy beyond its capabilities. Also, children (both boys and girls) tend to fight over toys. The Slinky toy, unfortunately, does not stand up to yanking this way and that.
A follow-up call yesterday to the Wormley home revealed that Joe had purchased a Paddle Ball toy for Jimmy “to shut him up.”
According to Jimmy’s distraught mom, Sally, the elastic string broke even before they made it back to their car at the nearby Glen Carbon Wal-Mart. At home, Joe tied the string back together. Twelve seconds later, the string came loose from the staple on the paddle. Seven seconds after Joe reattached the string to the paddle, the string became detached from the ball. At that point, Joe repeatedly whipped his son on the a– with the cheap paddle until it broke.