Oh for the Love of Nerf

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I found a Nerf dart the other day.

This doesn’t sound particularly notable but it is because, you see, no more Nerf guns lurk in the house. Not a single one. No. 3, now a full-on, legit teenager, decided it was time. Time to get rid of them and clear out space — on the custom storage rack he and his dad built in his closet specifically for the toys — instead for his shoe collection, which now takes up all the room in his closet and his heart.

But boy once upon a time that kid loved Nerf stuff.

“Oh Mom, you have to see how cool this Nerf gun is,” was a frequent comment as No. 3 online window-shopped.

For years, his Christmas lists were full of them. He asked for the Nerf Zombie Strike ZED Squad Longshot CS-12 Blaster, a bargain at $34.99, which boasted a long-range targeting scope to better zap zombies (or a poor mom caught in the crossfire of a Nerf war). He really wanted, but held out little hope for, the no-longer made Nerf Vulcan, which was only, like, the greatest, most amazeballs Nerf EVER and worked like a machine gun. True story: The vintage toy cost more than $300 when you could find it on collector’s sites. How can something made of  colored plastic and foam cost more than a Kia Soul? Anyway, one Christmas, that is what this kid so desperately wanted and his dad, ever the frugal one up for a challenge, set out to find all the parts and recreated this impressive piece of machinery. In the end, he probably shelled out $300, which included a four-hour round-trip drive to get one of the pieces, purchased on eBay — local pickup only. That is love. Or stubbornness. Sometimes they’re hard to tease apart.

More than once, I was working away at my desk in the middle of the house when a Nerf war would break out around me. More than once, a forgotten piece of Nerf ammo jacked up the vacuum. More than once, I plucked foam out of the littlest dog’s mouth. The darts make for very good chewing, and I would guess the hard plastic piece on the end would also make an excellent bowel obstruction that would cost a pretty penny for a vet to surgically remove. Amazingly, thankfully, we never found out for sure.

I’d find darts in the couch cushions, behind the washing machine, in the car, they were everywhere. It drove me insane. So weird how I could spot them immediately, but No. 3 seemed to develop Nerf dart blindness to all the blue and orange pieces littering the floor.

Now Nerf is no more. No. 3 has moved on. Moved on from them like he did the Bakugans and Hexbugs and like his sisters abandoned My Little Pony and Pokemon.

The other day, I was pulling out one of my shoe boxes when what happened to be stuck behind it? Something very familiar — a cylindrical blue dart topped with an orange tip. I leaned over to pick it up. I rolled the dart over in my hand, marveling at its unmarred foamness, no bite marks anywhere, as I walked over to the trash can. I popped the lid open, then closed it and instead moseyed over to my desk, dropping the dart in the top drawer. For safe keeping.

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