Memories of a Marshmallow Man
The movie Ghostbusters was released the year before I was born, but I had reached age four by the time the sequel came around. I was still to young to see and understand the movie, but not the toys. I loved the toys. Little men whose eyes popped out of their heads when you squeeze them, or that small plastic toilet that housed a monster. What's not to love?
There is one toy, however, that sticks out in my mind a lot more than the others. The iconic monster from the first movie; a huge Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. At least it felt huge to me anyway, I was only 4 years old at the time.
My memory of Stay Puft is very fuzzy, but he is knocking around in there. I can remember the physical sensation of holding him, tight to my chest the way kids hold big toys. He had a big round head, doe-eyes and a dumb smile on his face. His once bright white and rotund body carried all the scuffs you'd expect on a four year old's toy. If Stay Puft were a person he would have to be Lenny from Of Mice and Men. A gentle misunderstood giant that just wants a hug... but might kill you with said hug.
The memory of losing him is also there. I have a vague recollection of me throwing him over the wall at the end of the garden. Beyond that wall would have been an unkept patch of land, overgrown with nettles, weeds and bushes. I've no idea why I would have thrown him in there. In fact I'm not even sure if it actually happened... this was 29 years ago. I kind of remember being sad, though I don't know why I wouldn't have gotten my parents to go get him back.
It's a ghost of a memory. A slight recollection of loss and sadness. Isn't it strange the things that engrain themselves into our minds? Why do I remember Stay Puft and why do I still recall that feeling of sadness whenever I think about him? Was this my first cognisant experience of loss? A childhood emotional template for the rest of my life?
I have searched around online and it is pretty easy to find people selling that old Stay Puft toy and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to buy one (and probably pay 10x what was paid for my one back in the day). But it wouldn't be the same. He wouldn't be the monster I loved as a child. And what would it achieve anyway? It wouldn't take away the feeling of sadness I felt then and wouldn't bring back the same joy it once brought me.
All is not lost, however. Stay Puft was made of plastic, which means he's probably still out there. He might be buried under a mountain of rubbish in a land fill, or laying hidden in the overgrowth where I lost him. Whereever he is, he's still smiling and his soft plastic body will outlive us all.