When you go out to buy toys for people, it’s often assumed that the recipients will be somewhere between the ages of two and seventeen and that they have a habit of playing with stuff. There is also a penchant for folks of older ages to have ‘toys’ in the form of motor boats, SUVs, high-end stereo systems and plasma televisions. While this is all well and good (and, if you succumb to the need to help me satisfy my own middle-aged urges for a cool toy, feel free to buy me a Miata), old people need toys too. Thus, after much deliberation and consideration, not to mention some small experience as an up-and-coming fogey myself, here are my top ten toys for old farts as delivered in the tradition of David Letterman, who is himself an old fart and has enough money to buy all these toys, plus a Miata, for us both.
10. The Clapper
This wonder of the 1980s is still one of the most useful items for your beloved geezer. What if they’re too feeble to effectively clap their hands in a way that activates that all too sensitive sound sensor? Well, it’s a known fact that, no matter how much a person ages, the ability to throw things never goes away. In fact, research has shown that a geezer can nail a smart-mouthed kid in the back of the head with a shoe as easily as Anderson Garcia fires a fastball over home plate. So, if grandma can’t clap for the Clapper, give them an old shoe to throw at a nearby door – or, perhaps, at grandpa.
9. Rubik’s Cube
Remember working on this thing until either your fingers bled or you simply gave up in frustration? Well, the curmudgeons in your life will absolutely LOVE the cube, provided you give them a simple clue – teach them to cheat! Show them how the colored stickers come right off, allowing them to ‘sneak’ a move now and then to help them along. I guarantee, this will be all it takes to turn your solitaire-addicted old fart into a self-perceived master of both logic and subterfuge. Why deny an old person their dreams?
8. The Motorized Wheelchair
Don’t think of those 400 pound jalopies found at nursing homes or hospitals – your old bags want to cruise the mall in style! Give them the cute little battery-operated ones with the tight turning radius and the bright red seats. Light enough for one of their kids to put into the trunk for them, they’ll have hours of fun wheeling around at speeds three or even four miles an hour faster than they’ve self-locomoted in decades.
7. The RV
Was there ever a vehicle developed for old folks like the RV? No! It has all the comforts of home – a cramped living space, a portable bathroom, a bed that folds up into a wall and sliding, lockable windows. Let’s not forget the really large steering wheel and the cute little folding stair by the ‘front’ door! Before they hit the road to spend the rest of your inheritance, make sure they’re dressed in appropriate RV style – plaid pants and a cap with a fluffy ball on top for grandpa, while grandma can relax in something sensible to make grandpa’s outfit stand out all the more (don’t forget the over-sized goggle-sunglasses)
6. Easy-Bake Oven
Still available after all these years, the Easy-Bake Oven is just the thing for the aging female in your life who isn’t strong enough to carry the turkey out of the oven themselves. You know they love to cook – why not let them cook in a way that’s so safe, a nine year old could handle it? True, the term ‘home cooking’ might undergo a few changes (brownies baked under a light bulb, anyone?), but the safety of your most loved fogey should come first.
5. Blow-Up Love Doll
Not so fast! We’re talking about the geriatric, remember? There’ll be no taking this thing up to the bedroom for a night of hot vinyl passion. Recommended uses for this item include dressing it up and sitting it in the passenger seat so they can careen down the MOV lanes on their way to the doctor’s office, plopping it in front of the television so they have the illusion of not being in the house alone, or – why not? – a night of hot vinyl passion. A bottle of blue pills and the latest copy of Maxim isn’t enough, though – they’ll also need their medical alert button and a copy of their last will and testament, just in case things go awry.
4. Video-Game Console
You might not consider this much of a gift for someone who hasn’t the motor skills to pilot the car down the driveway safely after dark, but don’t be fooled; old people love the chance to sound like they’re hip, and what better way to get them up to speed than an X-Box and a copy of Grand Theft Auto. Who knows, maybe Old Leadfoot can even gain some much-needed hand-eye coordination, assuming he has a car that operates via a hand-held controller. It’s also possible this game might be as close as grandpa ever gets to a hooker, a street gang or a chance to run some arrogant commuter off the road without facing bodily harm, so let the old guy have his fun.
3. Cable Television
Remember the good old days of a limitless thirteen channels to choose from? The times of black and white programming, hand-drawn animated cartoons and shows like ‘Houdy Doody’ or ‘My Mother the Car’? Thankfully, those days are gone forever – but grandma and grandpa can now relax in the light of their 21st century wide-screen plasma entertainment wonder, where shows like ‘The Price Is Right’ and ‘The Days of Our Lives’ don’t look one bit better except in their own imaginations. Imagine the excitement as they sift through, not thirteen, but hundreds of channels looking for something to watch, finally settling on either ‘One Life to Live’ or a ball game to sleep through, depending on who figures out how the remote works first.
2. The Sports Car
Nothing says ‘cool old person’ like a hot convertible with more horsepower than a small Iraqi army and enough red paint to scare an epileptic into fits. Imagine the geezer of your choice zooming along at a screaming 40 mph on the freeway, what little hair they have blowing in the wind as he or she peers out at the world from behind the aforementioned goggle-sunglasses that they all wear to the beach. While the right-hand directional blithely flickers away mile after mile, that Lawrence Welk CD the kids gave for Christmas is blaring at full volume – not because the stereo is a wonder of modern acoustical engineering, but because the coot can’t hear squat with the top down.
1. The Computer
This is the number one cool toy for the geriatric. Not only does Gramps get to logon and look at all the free porn he can stand before having a heart attack, grandma can sit and play solitaire all day without the fuss and bother of leaving the house and hanging out with a bunch of biddies who are just as cantankerous as she is. The computer is also useful for ordering expensive medications from Canada, finding all the ways Medicare has screwed them over this past year, and reading their kid’s web sites. Hmm, maybe this item wasn’t such a hot idea after all.