Last week, Buzz Lightyear looked more dejected than he did when Andy left for college. There he lay, on a crowded shelf of used toys at a local thrift shop, just waiting for someone to switch him on and push his buttons to initiate some amazing intergalactic conversation. Take heart, Ranger. Captain Googie to the rescue.
It didn't require the activation of too many systems before I realized that this was no ordinary Buzz. Push a red button on his chest and his wings pop out, complete with flashing lights, red on the starboard side and green on the port. Push the red button on his sleeve and his laser flashes into action. Open his helmet and you get an interplanetary tongue-lashing: "How dare you open a spaceman's helmet in uncharted space!" Several other buttons located here and there on his space suit provide the impetus for an unbelievable number of other Buzzisms, including the famous "To infinity--and beyond!" He even emits "flying" sound effects when moving in a horizontal position.
With one cursory glance at the $5 price scrawled on the bottom of his boot, I knew that my mission was to buy this Buzz for Pooh. A later check online confirmed that I had gotten a great deal, with the new version of this same toy going for over $50. The fact that his batteries still seemed to be going strong made him even more valuable. Pooh's response when I gave Buzz to him a couple days ago made him priceless.
It was a day like Andy's birthday in the first Toy Story movie, a day that was all about Buzz. At one point that afternoon, I had just wrangled 16-month-old Bootsie to the floor for a much-needed diaper change. As I was rather immersed in this project, I heard a familiar voice from somewhere just behind me. It was Buzz. Apparently, Pooh had lifted his helmet, prompting him to say, quite emphatically and appropriately, "I SMELL EVIL." Well put, Buzz old buddy. Don't we all.
Funny as this was, however, it didn't come close to what I will refer to here, with apologies to Kmarts everywhere, as "The Blue Light Special." Our Buzz has a blue button on his dropped-waist belt about where the buckle should be. Somehow, Pooh got the idea that this must be--uh--how Buzz potties. So at random times during the day, Buzz would lean over, Pooh would push the blue button, and you would hear something like, "Wheesh. Whoosh. Zappa-zappa-zap. Wheeew."
I tell you, I laughed until tears streamed down my face and the kids asked me why I was crying. I either have an oddly perverse sense of humor, or I have lived a rather sheltered life. It's just that I'd never before seen anyone, male or female, go to the bathroom accompanied by flashing blue lights and precisely these kinds of sound effects.
If Pooh's thrift-store Buzz should suddenly stop working forever, he will still be worth the $5 I paid for him many times over. If he never gives us more than this one full, unforgettable day of imagination and laughter, he will still be the most valuable piece of space junk I have ever encountered.
Thanks, Buzz. You lit up our day. Your mission is accomplished.