As the holiday season marches inexorably forward, folks attending this Sunday’s game at FedExField are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Toys For Tots. With that in mind, I figured I’d ask around the locker room for some toy suggestions. (What the heck, it worked out with children’s books — twice.)
I made it as far as Fred Smoot and Chris Wilson. Once those two got revved up and going, it didn’t matter who tried to interject … as Devin Thomas discovered.
“My favorite toy as a kid,” Smoot began, “had to go between the Big Wheel — I had this Dukes Of Hazzard Big Wheel with the brake on the back, right? [NOTE: That's it pictured to the right.] I would go fast as I could, hit the brake, spin around. So the Big Wheel was one of my greatest, but I also loved the Etch-A-Sketch. I couldn’t draw a lick, but with that Etch-A-Sketch, I could make a million, just goin’ around, making my cousin mad [by] paintin’ ugly pictures of her. You know, Etch-A-Sketch is a powerful toy.”
Wilson was getting dressed at his nearby locker and overheard the end of the conversation, asked, “Etch-A-Sketch?”
“He asked me the favorite Christmas present I ever got,” Smoot said. “I told him my favorite was my Dukes of Hazzard Big Wheel.”
Wilson was thrilled by this. “I was ’bout to say the Big Wheel!”
“Yep,” Smoot said, “I’m ’bout to tell you why the Big Wheel is essential.”
Devin Thomas had heard enough. “Man,” he said, “not the Big Wheel. Power Wheel!”
Wilson and Smoot were appalled, Wilson nearly shouting, “No, no!” and Smoot adding “[Forget] the Power Wheel,” only, you know, not actually “forget”.
“Big Wheel would kill the Power Wheel!,” Wilson said.
Smoot said, “This is as fast you could in the Power Wheel,” and made a noise that roughly approximated an electric shaver. “Let me catch that Big Wheel going downhill!”
Wilson was shaking his head at Thomas. “Man,” he said, “I’ll catch that Power Wheel from the side, you be fallin’ down the hill.”
“That Big Wheel actually felt like you was ridin’ a motorcycle,” Smoot said.
Thomas tried to interject. “I had a Jeep Wrangler –”
Wilson cut him off. “First of all,” he said, “the Big Wheel don’t get no flat tire, I don’t care what you do. You can stab it with a knife, nail, rock, it’ll still ride. Ride through the water, ride on the grass, it’s the all-around vehicle. And you’re not gonna fall off a Big Wheel. And that Big Wheel’ll run through anything.”
Because I didn’t have the luxury of the video link above, I finally managed to stammer that I couldn’t picture a Power Wheel.
“Power Wheel’s the thing where you gotta press the button,” Wilson said dismissively.
“Power Wheel’s the one you haveta get in there with the battery,” Smoot added.
“Yeah,” Thomas began, with some enthusiasm, “you gotta charge the battery–”
This time Smoot cut him off. “You know Bigfoot? That’s a Power Wheel.”
“That’s for girls,” Wilson said. “Power Wheel is for girls.” (NOTE: This appears to have been pretty much true, at least in some cases.)
“You’re tellin’ me you’d rather paddle your feet?” Thomas asked.
“Yes I would,” Smoot shouted. “That’s why I’m in the NFL! My cousin jumped on a Power Wheel, I jumped on a Big Wheel. That’s why I can run fast!”
“And you was goin’ faster than them on that little Power Wheel,” Wilson added.
“Right,” Smoot said. “I shot past ‘em.”
“See, that Power Wheel,” Wilson explained, “that was a stunt toy, like, ‘Look what I got for Christmas.’ But when it was time to go outside and play? That Power Wheel’d be way down the block; we gone. Big Wheels and two-wheelers would be gone.”
Thomas was unrepentant. “I’m sorry, I’m a Power Wheel guy. My little boy got one, I promise it go like crazy.”
“Well,” Smoot explained patiently, “we’re talking about a 1980′s Power Wheel compared to a millennium Power Wheel.”
“It don’t matter what Power Wheel,” Wilson said, “I’m going with the Big Wheel. How old is your son?”
“Two,” Thomas said.
“I’ll take my sixteen-month-old daughter over your two-year-old son,” Wilson said, “give her the Big Wheel, and she gonna run that Power Wheel off the street.”
Thomas shrugged. “She’s got a little four-wheeler, and that thing–” he made an uptempo zipping noise. “She rides that thing.”
“I’m sure It’s a lot of fun,” Wilson said, “but we’re talking about performance.”
“What,” Thomas asked, “you’re talkin’ ’bout popping wheelies or something?”
“Nah,” Smoot said, “I’m talkin’ ’bout speed. Quickness. Agility.”
“Goin’ down hills?” Thomas said.
“Oh,” Smoot said, “you don’t wanna do no hills! You’ll tear your ACL on a Big Wheel! That [monster-trucker]‘s goin’ like this –” he mimed furious pedalling — “you can’t stop that. I’m movin’ my feet out of the way!” And with that, he left the locker room.
Thomas had one last defense: “Think about it,” he said. “That was the first time you could pull up on the girl next door.”
“I never had a Power Wheel, first of all,” Wilson said.
“Man, I had one,” Thomas said. “I used to go ’round the block in that thing. I used to get my candy cigarettes, my root beer, and go next door to the girl, go beep beep [on the horn].”
“Power Wheels would’ve gotten stolen in my neighborhood,” Wilson said.
“You got no neighborhood love, then,” Thomas said. “Everybody knows that’s your Power Wheel, that [stuff] shouldn’t get touched.”
“Man,” Wilson explained, “somebody’ll take your Power Wheel and go to a completely different area–”
“Well, you ain’t keepin’ track of your car,” Thomas said.
And that’s pretty much where they left it.
So let’s review what we’ve learned from all this:
1) Bring a toy for Toys For Tots on Sunday.
2) Some people will prefer Power Wheels, but Big Wheels make future NFL Players.
3) You’ll tear your ACL on a Big Wheel.
4) Also, as you’ll see below, commercials in the 1970′s could suggest much riskier stunts than commercials today.
Dukes of Hazzard Big Wheel photo from here.
Tags: big wheels, BigWheels, Chris Wilson, ChrisWilson, Devin Thomas, DevinThomas, Fred Smoot, FredSmoot, toys for tots, ToysForTots
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