13 April 2009

The Beautiful, Tragic Life of Mossman

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."


Funnyrunner said...

LLOL. That is hysterical.

Heather Cherry said...

This post had a decidedly "Red Violin"-esque feel to it. But don't you think the Magical Staff of Magical Powers is a bit repetitively redundant?

Winky Twinky said...

Maybe he can start a new chapter as a Chia pet... too funny...

alantru said...

There's still hope. But he needs to bottom out more. I'm thinking a really big sex scandal, several drug incidents (ala Amy Winehouse), one or ten physical attacks on papparazi (he should be following them, by the way) some prison time and then -- redemption. Everyone loves a shrub comeback story. Or so I'm told...

Unknown said...

awww poor Mossman.. the torture he endured. I hope he has found a good therapist in the midst of the trunk he is now stored

Unknown said...

Wow Mossman has certainly been through a lot. Dates with the Purple Pieman really made me laugh.

Shawn said...

Funnyrunner: TThx!

Heather: I guess it's a little redundant. I guess it's a little redundant.

Winky: You don't want to see what happens when you add water to Mossman.

Alan: I tend to agree. If he lost his millions with frivolous spending, it would probably have a bigger impact. But to do that, he would have had to make millions, so it's a tricky situation.

Dizz: We can all hope.

Kat: I wouldn't want to trade places with him, that's for sure.

Tina said...

Mossman deserves a Sat kids cartoon! His expression is kind of creepy though.

Jeff Tompkins said...

When Mossman was in Choi's possession, where the hell was the Red Cross and/or Amnesty International? That's what I'd like to know.

Brilliant piece of writing. Excellent work.

Marissa said...

It's a shame he never had a Moss-Lady and they could've had little algae together. *wipes tears*

Revel said...

Leo was the champ? NO wonder that fed folded. Everybody knows he's the botch master and hates to job to upcoming talent.

He's like a green version Hulk Hogan and Drunken Scott Hall(which means, normal Scott Hall) combined.

Dalton J. Fox said...

This makes me wonder what Skunkor is up to nowadays.

And it's too bad he was relegated to curtain-jerker status in the TWF. I thought he had real potential, at least an upper carder. I've got a feeling that there might've been some behind-the-scenes politics from Leo and the rest of TMNT that resulted in Mossman's lack of a push.

Shawn said...

Tina: I don't know about "creepy". He's just very intense.

Jeff: Very good question. Unfortunately, without mainstream media attention, these kinds of things are still happening all around the world.

Marissa: I know. It would have been a beautiful thing.

C.B.: Very true, but I think he came in with a big contract, and they had no choice but to put the belt on him.

Dalton: Skunkor! I always found his aroma rather pleasant. And you're undoubtedly right about the politics. There were always questions about whether Mossman could work "TWF Main Event" style.

Helen said...

eh... is he in anyway related to "the swamp thing" ???


Mystery Man said...

lol My Mossman was in an ongoing feud with his rival Stinkor for the longest, then as his career was coming to an end he found himself feuding with Visionaries, Silver Hawks, membes of C.O.P.s, Monster Machines, and M.A.S.K., until he was ultimately defeated by the dreaded collector's box, which is where now rests. Perhaps one day he'll come out of retirememnt...lol

Dalton J. Fox said...

Back to the subject of Skunkor ... I thought all these years that his name was Skunkor, but Mystery Man mentioning "Stinkor" made me rethink that. And sure enough, according to wikipedia, it's Stinkor. Why the hell did I think his name was Skunkor all this time?

Chris said...

Wait just one second. Someone ... somewhere ... seriously came up with the idea of a "Moss man" ?!

I mean I know I can see the pictures but ... odd.

Unknown said...

Shawn- By the power of Greyskull, you've come up with a clever post here. :) (PS- I feel like I've just reexperienced my childhood... well, the good parts, anyway.)

Wendy said...

After reading this story I have to up my dosage of meds so I don't fall into a coma of despair for Mossman. Good grief... we need to launch a rescue mission for him! SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!

Somebody said...

Okay. What?

Shawn said...

Helen: No, I don't believe so. Nor is he related to the Toxic Avenger.

Mystery Man: I'm disappointed to see that I don't recognize a single entity you mentioned there.

Dalton: Stinkor, Skunkor. He was a skunk man who smelled weird, that's all people need to know.

Chris: Well, it was the 80s, you know.

Jenn: I can't take full credit. Cringer helped.

Wendy: It is a really sad situation.

Somebody: Wow, when you're called, you really jump on it!

Mystery Man said...

lol they were mid 80s toys. stuff that came after tramnsformers and he-man went away and before the turtles and power rangers took over