Does anyone remember talkboys? They weren’t anything special, just a nifty looking tape recorder. They came out roughly around the same time at Christmas that Home Alone 2 was released, there was a whole load of hype over them, remember the trailer where Kevin plays back his hotel order down the phone after recording it? He uses the function that let’s you slow down the voice, posing as his dad. I thought that was awesome, I figured if I had one of those I’d be able to fool adults with ease, calling people up and ordering a new TV and stuff for the house…maybe my dad would even keep it, he’s pretty forgetful—you never know!
I never got one that Christmas, never really knew why but the huge collection of presents that Santa did bring me were enough to distract me from its absence, I was pretty happy with my new bike, that was the obsession of the moment. I forgot all about asking for it, actually, although I do remember seeing the ads on TV for a while. Instead I just let the snow clear and spent the next few months obsessing over the toys and games that I was given.
My birthday came in November much later the next year, I remember turning eight and having a party thrown for me at the house. Thankfully, the talkboy came too—along with Home Alone 2 on video of course. It was great unwrapping it, I mean I was never selfish and I didn’t really demand much as a kid but getting what you’ve asked for is a fantastic feeling. I ripped it out of the box straight away, tore off the packaging and carefully lifted it out in front of my friends. I was so pleased with it, it even looked cool. The microphone was extended towards you and it was so easy to hold, I grinned and laughed and pressed the record button.
“Hello!” I yelled into it before rewinding and playing it back.
My voice sounded so odd, I’d never actually heard myself speaking before, it was such a strange sensation to hear how different it seemed. I looked at my dad, puzzled, and he laughed. Everybody laughed and I eventually joined in. I remember that Andrew reached over and tried to take it off me, demanding a chance to play with it but I pushed him away and shook my head.
“Nuh uh, I’m not done yet.” I lifted the receiver again and spoke into it:
He huffed and folded his arms, pouting and looking angry with me but I wasn’t fazed, this was why I’d wanted it so badly in the first place. I rewound quickly, flicked that little black switch to make the talkboy repeat what I had said in the slow, deep voice like in the movie, I held it up so that everybody could hear me insulting Andrew in slow motion.
The talkboy emitted a low, rasping laugh.