On our recent brief trip to Phoenix (look for a post on that later), we went to a mall in Chandler to get out of the heat and look for some shorts for me. In the food court of the mall, they were having a small baseball card/comic/collectibles show, with various vendors set up with folding tables, displaying their wares. I used to collect baseball cards when I was a kid, so I was mildly interested but didn't break stride as we walked by the various displays. But then....I spotted something. On a table manned by a yellow-toothed, trucker cap wearing, baseball card "aficionado" were three boxes of original, series 3.....Garbage Pail Kids. Now Garbage Pail Kids were a staple of my youth. I collected them and traded them with the voracity of a frenzied llama. My brother and I would compare collections and see who had the weirdest/best/rarest etc. We even forced our dad to videotape us discussing the merits of our collections.So imagine my delight when I saw the classic GPK wrapper staring back at me. Deanne knew what she was in for when I was heard to exclaim "oooooooo Garbage Pail Kids, remember these?!?" I immediately picked up one of the packets and looked at the back - Copyright Topps 1986. 1986, I was 7 years old. The stallkeep piped up "two fer two dollars, six fer ten, and the whole box fer sixty five." I squealed in delight. "I'll be back, I need to get some cash." So I went off and found an ATM and withdrew the requisite amount of cash. Before I could turn around back towards my childhood, Deanne said "Oh look, this place has shorts," in a desparate attempt to distract me from my purchase. So we tramped around looking at shorts and shirts and various other....crap. But I knew that we would have to pass by the Garbage Pail Kids on the way out of the mall, so I sallied forth. Eventually, we drew nearer and I fumbled in my pocket for the $20 bills I had withdrawn earlier. "How many are you going to get?" inquired my wife. "10," I said. "10?! What are you going to do with 10 packs of Garbage Pail Kids, frame them?!?" she asked, knowing her husband all too well. Frame them...that's not a bad idea - and I think she knew I was thinking that because she immediately said "Don't even think about it." We eventually agreed on 5 packs but I got 6 due to the stallkeep's generosity. I pocketed the wax packs and went on my way.
As soon as we got home I tore open one of the packets. The smell was what hit me first, you don't forget that smell. It was a combination of cardboard, wax packaging and gum. Ahh the gum, I pulled out the 20 year old piece of gum and examined it. After all these years it was still hard enough to shatter into lethal shards that could cut through frozen vegetables. Good times. I started sifting through the cards and immediately recognized all the faces I saw - Karate Kate, Target Margaret, Fowl Raoul, they were all there. As I pulled open the remaining packets, I was greeted by all the old characters. I had forgotten about the goodies they have on the back of each card - the puzzle pieces, the wanted posters, the checklists.
I suddenly have the desire to become a Garbage Pail Kids "afficionado."