The unexamined life is not worth living
They say that a man's life is but a collection of memories, to be treasured at a later time, and wholly misunderstood as they happen. If this is the case, then it is only in retrospect that we can appreciate not only our own lives, but the lives of others. If there are truly lessons to be learned in this life, those lessons will come not from the pages of a book or the images on a silver screen, but from examining the lives of brave men, of cowardly men, and of people who have lived and walked and dreamed. People like and unlike yourself. In that spirit, we present to you one such life. The life of Mossman.
The Early Years
Mossman hatched out of his plastic clamshell in Freehold, NJ in 1985. Not moments later, he was dropped on the floor by then 7-yr-old Billy Springer, thus acquiring the first piece of carpet lint on his otherwise green, pristine, mossy body. The young Springer rectified his mistake at once, retrieved Mossman from the lush carpeting, but failed to remove the lint from the upper right portion of Mossman's back. There it would stay for the next six months, until Springer's mom happened upon Mossman resting in the mop bucket underneath the kitchen sink. She took it upon herself to clean him and return him to the eclectic toybox which was his usual residence.
"That was the best time of my life," says Mossman, now 24 (equivalent to 147 in human years). "God, the times I had."
These times included fierce battles with Hordak, the evil overlord of the Netherrealm, as well as some shaky alliances with Yoda and a penguin named Burtok. Mossman found himself the victor more often than not, using his magical staff to lead his troops to their triumphs. However, it was the loss of that magical staff that ultimately led to a new chapter in Mossman's life.
The Great Emigration of 1989
Shortly after losing the Magical Staff of Magical Powers, Mossman found his life taking a decided turn for the worse.
"I didn't get called up as often for the really important missions," Mossman says. "I spent a lot of time in the toybox, becoming intimately familiar with some of One-Armed He-Man's more outlandish religious theories."
Mossman's decline in popularity culminated in late 1988, when he was extended a rare invite to join the newly formed TWF, or Toy Wrestling Federation. Having an extended background in hand-to-hand combat, Mossman thought the new career path would be his ticket out of the toybox and back into a productive life. He even had designs on the Federation's World Championship, held by Leonardo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Alas, it was not to be. Mossman found himself mired in a neverending feud with a minor character from the Smurfs, engaged in short but violent battles that typically opened the card, rather than being featured in the main event. During this time, his Mossy fur suffered more wear and tear than he would have liked, and dog hair began to accumulate on his body at an alarming rate.
The TWF folded after only six months. Shortly thereafter, Mossman was sold to a young Korean boy named Lin Kim for $3.50 at the Springer's annual yard sale.
"To me, it was an egregious breach of trust," Mossman says, unable to hide the bitterness that has festered inside for two decades. "A slap in the face."
Bill Springer, now an independent contractor for Direct TV, declined to be interviewed for this story.
The Lin Years
Though he felt betrayed, Mossman was determined to make the most out of this new opportunity. With a new owner in place, new figures surrounding him, he dreamed of spending more time out of the toybox and less time worrying that his prime years were being wasted in meaningless existential conversations.
Unfortunately, he describes his time in the Lin kingdom as the worst years of his life.
"Things weren't so bad at first," he admits. "There was no violence of any kind in this new kingdom, but I wasn't terribly disappointed. I had prided myself in developing my mind as well as my body, and looked forward to challenges that were not purely physical."
These challenges included extensive spelling bees and math decathlons with the Elite Squadron, a group of figures who were almost exclusively from the GI Joe universe. Mossman felt out of place from the very beginning. Not only was he twice as tall as his fellow academics, but he found himself disengaged from the endless practices. Still, nothing could have prepared him for what was to come.
"I knew she was bad news from the moment I laid eyes on her," Mossman says, staring wistfully into his own past. "I just didn't know how bad."
Mossman is speaking of Choi, Lin's 9 year old sister. Growing tired of waiting for Mossman to find his niche in the academic world, Lin traded Mossman to his sister for a Nintendo game called "Excitebike". Though Mossman had never been exposed to the female world in detail, he knew instinctively that he had no business in the pink-and-black land to which he was transported.
Gone, now, was any chance of reliving his past glory on the battlefield, or even retaining a modicum of dignity as a marathon speller. He was relegated to spending exactly three days on a windowsill, having the sun fade his mossy exterior, while waiting for some sort of horror to come out of Choi's dedicated time at the sewing machine. Though Mossman had often wished for a fine cloak or even a robe, the ruffled dress that he was forced to wear while in Choi's possession was not what he'd had in mind.
"I spent the next year and a half going on 'dates' with the Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak," Mossman laments. "It was beyond humiliating. It was emasculating."
The Interim and The Present
When the Kim siblings grew too old for action figures, Mossman once again found himself up for sale. He was purchased by rabid toy collector Hank Garrison of Santa Barbara, California for the princely sum of $.49. Though Garrison was an appreciator of the art that was modern day toymaking, and had more than a passing interest in the mythology behind the various cartoons and backstories that came with each character, at 38, Garrison was long past staging battles or even academic challenges with his toys. Mossman thus found himself alternatively displayed or "put away" for the next 20 years.
"I wouldn't say he's the prize piece of my collection by any means," Garrison, now 55, says. "The years have not been terribly kind to him. He's lost most of his refreshing pine scent. And, of course, any toy out of its original packaging is not nearly as valuable. Still, he's a decent example of the mid-80's Mattel workmanship."
"All I do is wish for death," Mossman says before returning to his current home in a box in Garrison's attic. "Sweet, merciful Plant Lord, take me now."
13 April 2009
The unexamined life is not worth living