Even adults show childish side

Sometimes I feel sorry for my wife. She is a bright, responsible, beautiful, young businesswoman full of ambition and a wide-open future of opportunities…. Who seems, at times, to have married an 8-year-old.

Don?t get me wrong; I?m not saying I?m a child. I am fully capable of tying my own shoes, blowing my own nose and operating the toaster with minimal supervision.

I can, however, be childish.

When we go grocery shopping, I give the shopping cart one big push and ride it all the way to the car.

For best results, load the front end with a few dozen cans of ham-n-inappropriately-used-apostrophe-beans.

And when we visit the Igloo, I order the fuzzy navel flavor because I think it sounds funny. Meanwhile, Hanna picks a more refined snow cone, like Silverfox or Retirementfund.

But I?m at my best (worst?) when we go out to eat. Hanna orders a sirloin steak with steamed vegetables and salad with dressing on the side. I order mac-n-inappropriately-used-apostrophe-cheese and chicken strips.

Several weeks ago, we visited Kansas City to celebrate a personal achievement, and out of the hundreds of restaurant choices available to me, I picked T-Rex Cafe: a spectacle of pre-historic (but post-Paleozoic) spangles. There were colored lights, waterfalls, fires, life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, dozens of young children. And me.

I only mention this because?in addition to taking up the first half of my word count?it effectively introduces the real topic of this column: By the end of the week I will revisit perhaps one of the greatest experiences of my childhood. That?s right. McDonald?s Teenie Beanie Babies are back.

When most men talk about their toys, they?re referring to something with either internal combustion or surfaces that could potentially remove any given bodily limb.

My toys, however, fit the more traditional definition.

Collecting Beanie Babies was a major part of my growing up years. There?s Speedy the turtle, Freckles the leopard, Garcia the tie-died bear and, by Hanna?s estimate, at least a thousand others that currently live in plastic tubs in our spare bedroom.

So when, in the height of the late-1990s craze, Beanie Babies began appearing in Happy Meal bags, I practically lived at McDonald?s, sleeping at night with a cheeseburger under my head.

In the summer 1998 my parents, brother and I walked to McDonald?s every single day to check which Teenie Beanies they had. I fondly remember one cloudy Saturday afternoon Dad drove to every McDonald?s in Wichita looking for Spunky the Cocker Spaniel.

But, as a great philosopher said, all good things come to an end.

The international Beanie Baby market withered, and I went off to college, got married and started to act, at least comparatively, grown-up.

But a few weeks ago I caught the news that Teenie Beanies were coming back to McDonald?s July 4. It was as if that little, round-headed kid with the glasses came home.

It?s foolish, I know. And yet I don?t expect to feel any kind of shame when I walk up to that counter, Hanna standing a safe distance behind, and ask the cashier that warm, fuzzy question: Which Teenie Beanie do you have today?

Just like the good ol-finally-correctly-used-apostrophe days.