solar powered me (not a new year’s resolution)

On my bulletin board, off a clear, shiny pin, hangs a green rubber bean pod. Gracefully portioned into three sections, it even comes with its own leaf-like placard, printed with place of make and maker (China and Bandai, incidentally). When you give any section a gentle squeeze, an impossibly delicious looking plastic soybean will rear its roundness and beam. It’s so inexplicably stupid delightful, you beam back, thinking, “how stupid delightful!” and then you squeeze upon the one rogue bean marked with a silly face, and the stupidity delight becomes absolute.

mine is old man face, i mean, bean

This is an example of a the kind of gag toy which graces convenience stores East Asia-wide and which members of my family find irresistible. True story: during a visit a few years ago, my grandmother walked into her nephew’s 7eleven in Taiwan and walked out with 2 tea eggs and 5 of these (I’m pretty sure the store’s entire stock). One hangs off a designer bag she carries from time to time.

This is to say, it should have been no surprise to any of us when she returned from her last trip with a monkey-formed flip flap solar toy she no doubt swiped politely asked for and obtained from one of our relatives’ cars. They even threw in the no-slip pad they put under it to keep it from sliding off the dashboard. Needless to say, it now sits upon the dashboard of my mom’s car, bringing the passenger seat passenger endless hours of (stupid) daytime car ride delight. Mainly my grandmother.

I actually love that my grandmother has always seemed to find joy in silly, delightful things. She doesn’t realize it, but her favorite Ghibli movie–heck, one of her personal favorites period–is Totoro. The sight of that furry who-knows-what (In the Taiwan version, Totoro is called “dragon cat,” which hardly provides any insight…well, Mokona is Mokona, as the saying goes) soaring through the sky, eyes blown, teeth bared, beings of various sizes ridiculously clinging to the fluffy expanse of its chest always draws her to the TV–like, two feet in front of it.  “Ohhh, ho ho ho. Look at it fly!” she’ll point out, clinging to her apron with her other hand. And then, later, when May similarly grips the front of her summer dress, “Oh, ho ho. Look at her crying!”  =.=”

During a recent car ride, she was pointing out similar 2-feet-away phenomenon regarding the monkey: “Ohh, ho ho! Look at it go!” A moment’s consideration, followed by: “Doesn’t he get tired?”

“Well,” I venture, “he gets to rest when the sun goes down.”

“That’s true.”

Indeed. A novel idea, one might even say. Like plastic peas who trick you into trying a bite and then give you silly face.

This monkey is powered by day and rests by night.

Reflecting on the sad, sad life habits I have developed as a life-long student (life is so long, huh, Imagase), I was struck by the revelatory nature of this revelation, more so as my feelings for said monkey suddenly developed into awe. Surely, if I were to take my rest by night, I could also feel empowered by my days! Yeah…live in sunlight, jiggle to the click of my mechanics, bring my grandmother some fresh silly delight. The leap towards gag’s comedy of nonsense from crack’s open despair is but a sound, well-timed sleep away!

Then I, too, could be a solar powered monkey–I mean, being.

go ‘head, monkey dude.

rock yo’ self to sleep.


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