A little girl;
Some summer fun;
A marble on a racing run;
It starts out plain;
And ends transformed;
Look out, you men:
You have been WARNED!!
If you’re old enough, you were in love with Mousetrap:
(BTW, you can actually ORDER that teeny-tiny version above, and the makers claim it really works! How cool is THAT?!)
I was nuts about Mousetrap. When I was eleven, I decided to make my own Rube Goldberg device. The awesome, amazing “Man Trap“.
(Click drawings to enlarge, but Back Arrow to return or the post will close.)
The concept was simple. Simple and SO sexist.
An unsuspecting man would encounter a devious woman who, previously plain, had altered her appearance via the beauty products my eleven-year-old self was most familiar with. Then the man, helpless and enraptured in the face of so much beauty, would bow to the woman’s will and marry her.
Oh, my Golly, Miss “Feminine Plastique”1 Molly.
The base of the Man Trap was a TV dinner.
After all, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Who didn’t like TV dinners? I thought. (Could THIS be why I’m single now for so long 😉 )
The Marble Chute
Argh. Nothing I tried would curl into a lovely spiral without squeezing and slowing my marble. I had to go with half-tube ramps instead, made from short lengths of the top edge of our backyard pool, tacked to a backboard in a Z shape.
The ends of the tube ramps would have let my little marble leap out. I needed something springy to close them so that the marble would maintain its momentum when it hit them and changed direction.
Got it! I peeled the rubber tire off one of my brother’s toy cars. It fit perfectly into the end of a tube. So I denuded five more tyres off that and another car. Without asking, of course.
Oh: The marble began its journey being dropped into the bachelor’s life by way of a beer can (a painted turtle food container).
The backboard which held the marble ramps was covered by a Playboy magazine. (Sigh.)
On the backboard, between the ramps, I glued large letters: P-L-A-Y-T-E-X.
Speed limit signs at each “turn” of the marble ramp–there would be three–were to reflect the ideal woman’s measurements–from a man’s point of view. (I’m so ashamed.) So I asked my Dad what these would be. His answer is pretty revealing about HIS tastes:
“40 – 23 – 35”.
(Ouch. THAT poor woman felt the need to have her lower ribs removed.)
So: The plain marble travelled through the land of PLAYTEX–famous for squeezy girdles and pointy bras–and acquired the perfect figure, according to my Dad. How ill is THAT, for an eleven-year-old to believe that nature alone could never equip a woman to attract a man? (EXACTLY what we’re teaching ’em today.)
The marble was to start out plain, but end fancy. Hmmm…
Aha! I created a sign that said “Maybelline”. The beauteous marble would wait patiently at this sign, subtly, drawing no attention to herself. The plain marble would roll along rapidly, hit the sign with a THWACK!–magically acquiring makeup–and stop cold, transferring energy to the beauteous marble. She would then take off running. A magical transformation. Genius! (Well, that’s what I thought at the time.)
Here are the “before” and “after” marbles:
Now, stop laughing. YOU try painting a dang marble with the paints available from your brother’s Revell car kits and his chewed up brushes. Glue on some flocking for hair. Then age these a coupla’ decades and see how YOURS look!
The Payoff: The Engagement and Marriage
Okay, so now we have a sexy woman with a beautiful face and figure, all ready to entrap her man. First, he will offer her the engagement ring. The beautiful marble, after leaving Maybelline Land, dropped down a chute aimed squarely at said ring (a teensy one my Mom got from a wedding place-setting).
This yanked a thread tied to a hatpin at one end and a rolling pin at the other–no stereotypical women’s implements HERE!
The rolling pin propped up the trap door of a gallows.
This now dropped. The poor schlub bachelor then dropped, too.
You DO see he is hung by a wedding ring?
It took me forever to saw through that hard plastic troll body in order to make this mouse-man hybrid. I was proud I was able to succeed at this. My sister, the owner of that troll, was less proud.
He looks quite faithful to my original drawing:
Do you understand WHY he had to be half-man, half-mouse?
Because, in the answer to the question “Are you a man, or a mouse?”, obviously the man who allowed himself to be trapped into marriage was a mouse.
How proud am I, that I created such an amazing device, based upon such feminist principles?
Here is the Man Trap’s original explanation, showing how short this post SHOULD have been:
“The Feminine Mystique” is a 1963 book by Betty Friedan which is widely credited with sparking the beginning of second-wave feminism in the United States.” (Wikipedia)
What did I do with that troll’s head, you wonder (or not)? Well, gaw, isn’t it obvious? I poured a couple of drops of gravy on it, folded a chewed piece of bubble gum around it, scrunched it up in a piece of paper upon which I’d written N-A-V-Y, and gave the wad to my sister.
Stick your head in gra-vy,
Wrap it up in bub-ble gum,
And send it to the Na-vy!”