“I don’t know why she wanted that Jaws game for Christmas,” Mom said to my aunt and uncle as I pulled it out of the box. “We haven’t even let her see the movie.”
“It’s the coolest game ever,” I told them. “You have to pull stuff out of his mouth before he eats you.”
“I’d rather eat the Christmas dinner than be the Christmas dinner,” Uncle Wayne said with a laugh.
My brother grabbed the box. “‘Some assembly required,’” he read to me and my cousins. “That figures. Let’s take it to the kitchen table.” After they put the fins on, we started loading his mouth with all the stuff he ate.
“He swallowed a whole tire, but it’s not even rubber,” my Cousin Dave said, holding it up. “It’s plastic.”
“He swallowed a plastic boot, too,” my brother added, showing us.
I searched for something to impress them: “Here’s a skull and a fish skeleton.”
“It’s all just little plastic stuff,” my brother said as he examined the rest of the goods, “and there aren’t even bite marks on anything.”
“Well his teeth are too small,” Cousin Jeff informed us. He got World Book Encyclopedia volume S off the shelf and showed us picture after picture of real-life sharks. “See?” he said, pointing to great whites, and tiger sharks, and hammer heads. “Their teeth are like a mouthful of Ginsu knives.”
“More than one row,” my brother pointed out.
Dave ran his finger over the edge of Jaws’ teeth. “These aren’t even sharp.”
“Wait,” I said. “What happens when his jaws snap shut? I bet that’s cool.”
Jeff nudged the bottom jaw, but nothing happened. Dave whacked it with the plastic fish hook meant to snag the junk out of Jaws’ mouth. Still nothing. My brother grabbed Jaws and shook him, but the shark’s mouth didn’t slam together with the undeniable force of a true great white. It struggled to close at all, with just a weak rattle as the mouthful of junk slowly slid into his gut.
“Man,” Jeff said, shaking his head. “Jaws is slower than Tim Conway when he plays the oldest man.”
“How come there aren’t any built-in screams?” Dave wanted to know. “I mean, where’s the horror in this Jaws?”
“This game is officially lame,” my brother said as he and my cousins got up to ditch me.
“Wait a minute,” I blurted. “I know how we can make this cool.”
I had to keep the interest of this trio of teenagers. All my other 7-year-old friends were stuck at the mercy of their own Christmas presents.
“Angie Lynn!” Mom exclaimed a couple hours later as she froze on her way past the kitchen table. “Is that my rouge you’re using on that shark?”
“We’re not using it on Jaws,” I assured her. “We’re just using it on his victims.”
“What victims?” she demanded. “The box didn’t say anything about victims. Is that Malibu Barbie hanging out of his mouth?”
“Well, she was already an amputee,” my brother explained as the rest of the adults joined us in the kitchen.
“There’s that poor Sunshine Family baby that Angie got a couple Christmases ago,” Aunt Evangeline said. “Didn’t it get run over on the electric race track?”
Dad leaned down for a closer look.
“Is that your Ken doll’s head in there?” he asked. “I thought I glued that on for good.”
“Not for good, Uncle Jack. Remember when you taught us about solvents?” Jeff said and held up a bottle of nail-polish remover he found in the bathroom.
“I also told you all to use catsup for blood, not your mother’s makeup,” Dad reminded us.
“Is this any way to celebrate Christmas?” Mom said, snatching her rouge jar as Jeff and Dave tried to wipe their red fingers on each other’s pants.
My brother started moving Jaws’ mouth, shaking his victims from side to side.
“I’m not a shark, ma’am,” he said. “I’m just a dolphin.”
The adults looked puzzled, but the kids all burst out laughing.
“Sorry Mom,” I said with a grin, “but this is the best Christmas we’ve ever had.”
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