INT. PLYMOUTH VOYAGER ON THE WAY HOME FROM KINDERGARTEN - 23 YEARS AGO
Me: Hmm. I was kind of hoping you were going to say El Pollo Loco. Predictable, sure. Yet so satisfying. I know what I'm getting into there. Particularly enjoy those beans. And the fact that it's this guilty visceral pleasure I can tell makes you so happy too... it, it just makes me feel so... connected to you. But I do like toys. And you seem excited about taking me. So, okay, I'm intrigued here. What are we talking details-wise?
Mom: Well, they have a new special program where they invite kids to come over and play with toys to test them. You just tell the Mattel people what you think. And you get a free toy at the end!
Me: Hmm. I do like that I'd be getting a new toy. That's indisputably appealing. But that Mattel building is so tall. Imposing is the word. What floor are we talking? And then there's these Mattel inquisitors you mentioned. Are we thinking male or female? If male, beards could be a deal breaker. They're fundamentally scary objects -- beards. Maybe I could just tell YOU what I think about the toys. Oh, but then the Mattel people are the least of my problems. There's also the reality of interacting with these other tester children... will the other kids be taller than me? Perhaps overpoweringly brash? Lastly, and forgive me for being crass but, ultimately, you know, all toys are sort of free to me on a pretty basic level. Though I do see how you not paying and me getting a toy represents a sort of win-win for the family. Oh, fuck it. Life's short. Carpe Diem. FINE. Deep breath. Let's go to Mattel!
INT. MATTEL CORPORATION CONFERENCE ROOM - 73rd Floor - Later
Bearded Mattel Exec: And okay, kids! You just finished watching a not yet released commercial for our cool new Hot Wheels toy that CHANGES COLORS after you dunk it in water! Radical, huh? Now go ahead and grab your own car and put it in the bucket of water provided. Really play with it! And tell us what you think! But be honest!
Tall philistine child: Whoa! Mine turned green!
Tall biracial girl: Cowabunga! They really do change colors!
Tall kid in a fireman outfit: I want one! I want one!
Bearded Mattel Exec: And what do you think, young man...
Me: Oh, uhh, they seem to yeah, sort of a toy car and there is I guess kind of a limited color change there so...
Tall chorus: Speak up!
Bearded Mattel Exec: I think someone 's got marbles in their mouth!
Tall chorus: hahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!
Bearded Mattel Exec: Sorry, go ahead...please continue...
Me: Yeah, just, again, thanks for the invitation here, very nice office park, like all you fun kids too, umm, yeah, I really was pretty jazzed about the car based on the commercial. The color change is so extreme in the ad! Red to blue. Instantly! Truly vivid hues! I mean that sense of transformation is really there. And I guess, sort of with the actual product, it takes really quite a bit of time to notice a difference. And I think time is critical here. Really of the essence. And I guess, there is sort of a color modification ultimately. But it's just the car seems to become only slightly lighter upon soaking up the water. Goes from like a deep royal blue to a mild but not even quite baby blue. And I guess maybe the fact that the commercial was so impressive made the actual toy -- which may have been perfectly adequate had I not been predisposed to think it was going to be extraordinary -- seem disappointing. It, this may sound like projection or something, but, honestly, playing with that real toy actually made me feel a little depressed.
Bearded Mattel Exec: Alrighty. Anyone else feel this way? Be honest, kids.
Tall biracial girl: No! That kid's just weird!
Tall kid in a fireman outfit: Yeah, he's dumb. It's the coolest car! Normal kids will love this toy!
Tall chorus: We love the toy! We love the toy! We love the toy!
Me (weakly giving in, though not without a deep sense of complicity and loss): We love the toy!
INT. PLYMOUTH VOYAGER - MATTEL PARKING LOT
Mom: So how was it?!
Me: It was good. Oh yeah. It was fun. Lots of toys. And kids. I got this, uhh, they gave me one of the Hot Wheels tester cars we played with as my free toy. It changes colors. Sort of.
Mom: Ready to go home?
Mom: Do you want to stop at El Pollo Loco first?
Me: More than anything.