I turn 23 in three days' time, an only slightly less terrifying prospect than turning 22 was. The blow of having to add an essentially meaningless digit onto the end of my age is softened somewhat by the knowledge that I have a TOP NEW JOB lined up, and the financial depredations of the past few months will soon be a hazy memory which will be noted in the histories as "The Age Of Not Affording Shit". And the job isn't even a horrible one! It's actually very nicely located directly across the street from the British Museum, so I can pop in there on my lunch break and marvel at the product of three hundred totally rockin' centuries of the British Empire beating up everyone else and filching their religious artefacts. Haha, fuck everyone that isn't us!
Now, when I near a birthday, two things happen. One, I begin to labour under the apprehension that I am getting Old and feel self-conscious about the aspects of my personality which are ostensibly rather childish (like for instance, most of them). Two, I completely forget all the stuff that I've wanted for ages and am now in a position to ask for as gifts. The simple question "so, what do you want for your birthday?" suddenly assumes a dreadful aspect, as I realise that my mind has been wiped clean, (possibly by the malevolent ghost of Hitler) of the mental checklist of crap wot I want.
What I never forget, however, is the stupendously extravagant stuff that I'd never ask anyone for, on account of its exorbitant price, impractical size or plain old uselessness. Here are three of those things. Of course, if you're an eccentric millionaire with a generous streak, I'd gladly accept any of these as compensation for getting older. There's still time left.
ITEM: Headcrab Hat
WHY I WANT IT: It's a cute little head-humper! A plush friend for (half) life, who doubles up as a fetching headpiece for cold winter days! Once I have a headcrab, all I need is a ripped shirt, white lab coat and a few capsules of fake blood and hey, ladies - say hello to Zombie Scientist Benneth! Lurching blindly down the dank hallways of your local secret underground research facility or shopping centre. I'm not sure where to find the lab coat, maybe there's a Science warehouse shop tucked away somewhere, a place like Builder Centre but with more beakers and antimass spectrometers. And crowbars. They must get all that stuff from somewhere. Besides the marvellous opportunities for fancy dress and Halowe'en shenanigans, a zombie scientist outfit would also be great for staging cruel practical jokes on people who habitually play Half-Life in the dark for hours. So, people exactly like myself. Actually I'm working on my blood-curdling 'skinless zombie' scream as we speak!
REALITY CHECK: It's thirty fucking quid for a bit of stuffed fabric! And that's before you factor in the stupendous cost of shipping things from America, which is where the little darling would be coming from. The headcrab farms of West Texas, I believe. Besides this, I would look like I had a dead chicken on my head to anyone who doesn't have an intimate understanding of the Half-Life universe, and I understand this is a group which counts "most normal people" amongst its members. And within that group exists a small but vocal substrate known as "people who beat up people that look hilarious".
WHY I WANT IT: You're shitting me, right? It's a person-sized hamster ball. That you can get inside and roll around in. How could anyone NOT want it? It'd have a thousand everyday applications - rolling down hills, rolling up hills, rolling to the shops, rolling to work, rolling to criminal court to stand trial for rolling over all those pedestrians... not to mention its limitless potential as a crimefighting tool. I'm no physics expert, but I'm fairly sure that a person ensconced in this ball would be completely impervious to all damage. I'd be confident in rolling it down a mountainside into a tank with nary a bruise. Criminals would learn to fear the inexorable approach of Human Hamster, or at the very least think twice before conducting their criminal activities on sharply inclined planes. If taken to a very hilly location such as the Welsh valleys, it is very possible that one could position oneself at the top of a hill, start rolling, and never, ever stop.
REALITY CHECK: Besides the fact it's a thousand quid, where would I keep it? That is, if I could ever get the damn thing inflated. I'm not sure if you have to do that yourself, but I think I'd go through several foot pumps trying to get my ball erect. And while I don't normally suffer from motion sickness, I can think of nothing more horrible than being entombed inside an uncontrollably spinning, bouncing translucent ball that's full to bursting with litre upon litre of your own putrid, yellow-brown chuck. Well, besides being forced to share a single bed with John McRirrick.
ITEM: Aliens pulse rifle
WHY I WANT IT: Because I got nukes, I got knives, sharp sticks... and this would be a nice addition to the arsenal. It comes in kit form so you have to build it yourself, but in my years of experience as a sad, sad model-building spod, I have accrued the requisite skills to make this a moot point. The pulse rifle is without a doubt my favourite science fiction dingus. Solid, reliable and distinctly more macho than fiddly lightsabers or those emasculated little phasers that emit a hypo-allergenic beam of yellow energy and go "weeeeee". It's an example of why I prefer 'ARD sci-fi - if you point this at a gibbering, ravenous xenomorph and pull the trigger, does the offending party politely go "arrgh" and fall backwards with no visible wounding? Christ no, the bastard erupts into a shrieking, bleeding orgy of corrosive acid blood and shards of splintered exoskeleton, and job's a good'un. It's a classic piece of production design work, and I'd love to have one lying around, set against the day my house is colonised by imaginary gribblies. Or gypsies.
REALITY CHECK: The fact that I might actually end up buying and building this if I should happen across the required disposable income bespeaks my status as a huge, flaming nerd of the basest order. However, I like being a huge flaming nerd, so shut it. At least I don't go around stabbing people. Lately. Anyway, I am sure the initial novelty of owning one would be quickly be dampened by the fact I couldn't actually spray explosive caseless ammunition at stuff with it. And it wouldn't make that fantastic "b'doop-b'doop" sound effect. I suppose it could be converted to shoot little plastic BBs, but that would make me an Airsofter, which is truly the lowest genus of nerd.