The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ★★

When I was a little kid, growing up solidly middle class, I had a lot of toys. But my parents, mindful of the expanding clutter that comes from the accumulation of “stuff,” presented me with an ultimatum: if I went long enough without playing with my toys then I’d have to get rid of them before I could get any new ones. They didn’t care what I did with them: throw them out, sell them at a yard sale, give them away to Goodwill… it didn’t matter to them. However the message was clear. Inactivity meant they were gone.

Now, there was an even far more insidious (sinister, even) option for my “unwanted” toys and that was to give them to my younger sister to play with. This struck me as supremely unfair. Why should I have to watch her benefit from something that was mine to begin with? It didn’t matter that the object of my obsession had lost most of its luster and that it had been providing diminishing returns for years. There was no way in hell I was going to just let her have it.

So every so often my parents would cast a suspicious glance at this particular toy and tell me, in essence, use it or lose it. So use it I would. Which was really getting quite pathetic as, having had the toy for over a decade, I’d run out of ideas about what to do with it. I’d slap a fresh coat of paint on it, attach some new decals to it and then devise an absurd and needlessly complex backstory to deceive myself into thinking it wasn’t all sadly familiar. I’d desperately try and convince myself that it was vital and new. But the harsh reality was I was wasting an enormous amount of time polishing a turd when really my energy would have been better spent just abandoning the played-out bauble and finding something new and original to devote myself to (because let’s face it: no matter what it was, it couldn’t *possibly* be any worse).

But the worst part about all of this was, while I was making a fool of myself, my sibling had accumulated some pretty cool toys of her own. And I couldn’t help but admire (marvel, even) at how she’d organically found a way to make all of her toys work together into something cohesive, breezy and fun (if not particularly substantive; we are talking, of course, about something meant for children) while I was being dour and living in the past. And really, if I were smart about it I would have just given her my toy as not only would it have fit in perfectly with her toys but we probably both could have benefited from it. But I refused and continued to sadly trot out this piece of shit (toy) approximately every two years. Because I was a child and that’s how fucking children behave.

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