I read a lot of comic books when I was a kid -- Superman was My Hero, Archie was my Potential High School Boyfriend, Little Lulu was the Kid I Wanted To Play With. I identified with Lois Lane, although I could never understand how she didn't cop to the fact that Clark was Superman. I rooted for Betty, because she was more like me -- Veronica was too snobby and popular and didn't deserve Archie. And Little Lulu has a friend (Oona) who was a witch! How cool would that be?
But aside from the comics themselves, I was completely enamored of the ads in the back.
You know the ones -- the X-Ray Specs, the Whoopee Cushions, the Joy Buzzers -- the gags.
Oh my God, I wanted them all. I remember one time when my Pop's best friend gave him the Exploding Can of Peanut Brittle gag one Christmas. Pop totally fooled me with it. He handed me the perfectly innocuous can and said, "Want some peanut brittle?" and I quite naturally said, "Yes!" and proceeded to open the can, only to have the coil-spring "snakes" explode out of the can. I loved it. I proceeded to take the can and ask everyone if they wanted some peanut brittle, too.
Come to think of it, maybe that's one of the reasons for the whole clown gig.
You see, I have never, ever lost this love of gags. When SonnyeBoy was about eight, I joyfully helped him pick out a selection from the back of his beloved Punisher comic book, steering him away from the obvious duds (X-Rays Specs: a promise unfulfilled) and the cheesiest merchandise, but allowing him to select the fake dog poop, the fake throw-up, the joy buzzer, the black eye telescope, and the squirting flower.
I mean, come on. Every house needs a rubber chicken and a whoopee cushion. I once gave whoopee cushions -- the quintessential gag -- to all my young adult nephews and nieces for Christmas, and the air was filled with the joyous sound of holiday farts all afternoon.
Really, now; nothing says "Christmas" quite like fart noises. Nothing spreads cheer and good will like a hearty handshake with a Joy Buzzer. Nothing brings a family closer together than a nice pack of pepper gum or hand soap that turns your hands black.
So, imagine my joy when I found, in a Washington Post article on "Of the Month"- type gifts, the Gag-of-the-Month Club.
May I offer you some peanut brittle?