Stompers came out when I turned 9 years old. These little plastic trucks with big foam tires ran off a single AA battery that powered headlights and all the wheels.
They were noisy and kind of brittle, but I loved mine – despite the fact that one of these caused me a fair amount of anguish. You know how awkward or painful memories sear into the noggin for the long haul?
Here’s the scene: Everyone is over at my grandmas. Adults were playing cards in the kitchen, couches were filled in the living room with the tv on, and I’m in the laundry room laying on the floor with an ear on the low pile carpet and one eye closed.
I would fire up the little monster truck and watch it go by my field of vision like a movie. Again and and again, piling up obstacles to mimic off-roading.
Until one time I let it get too close and it started crawling up my straight blond bowl-cut hair until it got lodged real good. I dart up screaming and run to my dad. He quickly figures out what is going on, but can’t easily access the TINY TINY off switch that is on the underside, snapping the top off to pull out the batter instead.
There I am with the plastic chassis of this thing sticking on the top of my head while mom tried to carefully unwind the hair.
I can’t remember all the details but I would fathom I wasn’t taking any of this incident with decorum so plan B quickly emerged.
After it was cut out I would go from a bowl cut to my first buzz cut the next day.
All this said and done? I still love thinking about that truck with the lights ablaze, crawling across the floor with one eye open like I was planning cinematography for an action movie. It might’ve been one of the first instances that inspired wanting to pick up a camera.