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About Max

Max has had to come a long way to his home on my desk. He's sailed across at least one ocean; travelled the countryside by truck and train. But he likely hasn't taken any more than the few steps I've coaxed out of him. See, Max is a replica of one of those mechanical robot toys that came to prominence in the heyday of B-movie-era America. You know the one: square head, mostly square body, all metal. Made in China is emblazoned across his nether regions, like so many of his kind.


And Max is only three inches tall. He has no flashing lights, no movements outside those controlled by a wind up key and the mechanical gears that have never really worked since since the day I picked him up at the local independent toy shop. But he fits nicely beneath the viewable area of the computer screen in my office, taking a place of honour alongside the Statue of Liberty and the Red Angry Bird.


I never had a toy like Max growing up. The eighties, the period in which I was raised, were a time of GI Joe, Transformers and the emergence of the home video game console. I was more fascinated by the 8-bit plumber and several testosterone-driven action adventure cartoons than simple toys. Yet passing by the store window one day last fall, I was… enamored.


It helped that the owner of the store had created a clever front window display for election season; robots were jockeying for position on the campaign trail. Being a sucker for a well crafted, creative display had me coming in the door, but the simpleness of the robot toy itself is what had me picking a small white box off the shelf that morning.


But It's only now, months after depositing Max in his new home, that I think he might hold a deeper meaning. Realistically, I have a lot of totems and knick-knacks strewn across my office. So what special significance does Max hold? Am I being nostalgic for a childhood experience I never apparently had? At the age of 35, and on the precipice of fatherhood for the first time, am I longing for a childhood that I chose to ignore?


As someone who's had a lifelong interest in storytelling, and having spent a good bit of my adulthood looking at patterns, I'm left to wonder at what Max's story will be, and how it will intertwine with my own. In considering a future narrative, I wonder: at the end of his time, what stories will Max relate with what he's seen through those painted blue eyes? Will he speak of being loved and appreciated, paint flaking off from adventures in the great outdoors? Or will he lament missed opportunities while being chained to a desk, forced to endure a heartless master made to grind out another couple hours?


At the end of my time, what story will I have to tell?

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