Out of all of the gloom from last weekend’s Newtown horror and its outraged aftermath (it got to a point where I couldn’t bear to log on to Facebook for the wrathful posts and communal lamenting), one joyous piece of news emerged from toymaker Hasbro: following thirteen-year-old McKenna Pope’s petition of over forty thousand signatures, Easy-Bake Ovens will now be offered in gender-neutral colors.
That intro might seem flip, but in fact this turn of events is particularly significant for me: I have a vivid, upsetting memory of sitting on Santa’s lap over forty years ago at Macys in New York and asking for an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas. My parents gasped. The other kids waiting in line giggled. And Santa himself told me that it was an inappropriate toy for a boy to ask for.
Santa. Himself. Said. That.
My gift wish was immediately altered by my parents, probably to something Santa himself suggested—he was no doubt keen to get the budding homo off his lap. I was scolded afterwards—how could I ask for that when I had been “expressly told” that was not what I wanted because it wasn’t for boys? But it was what I wanted, and I was sure Santa himself would understand if I made a last-minute plea while sitting on his lap. My desperate bid for justice from the patron saint of children had been rebuked because, well, I was just weird and not like normal boys.