If you instantly recognize these, then you’re probably in your thirties and had no friends as a child. To those of us who know, they’re simply iconic. They’re like Ray-Bans and the Rubik’s cube, Tab soda and MTV. They’re the orange handcuffs from My Pet Monster, whom we’ll get to in a minute. My Pet Monster was awesome enough, but, but them orange handcuffs. Them orange handcuffs.
They had plastic links that broke apart when you pulled them. This feature alone put them on a pedestal well above the crappy plastic pair that came in my police toy kit. I didn’t pretend to be King Kong. I didn’t pretend to be the strongest human alive. No, I just sat on the floor handcuffing myself and breaking the chains apart over and over and over. Or occasionally, I switched it up by handcuffing the dog. Who looked at me, sighed deeply, and tried her best to fall back asleep.
Alright, and then there was the My Pet Monster doll that they came with.
Let me see if I can explain this thing. It was the Reagan years of two-income families and latchkey kids, so perhaps there was a collective guilt. It was the era of “friend dolls.” Toys such as Teddy Ruxpin, My Buddy, and Kid Sister weren’t just dolls. They were friends. They were hefty in size, weighing almost ten pounds and reaching two feet in length. They read you stories, shared your bike seat, and patted you gently on the back as you sobbed yourself to sleep over not having any real friends.
He was released by American Greetings in 1986, so basically, a stuffed animal released by a greeting card company. But like everything in the 1980s, it spawned a cartoon series, a direct-to-video movie, and the full smorgasbord of merchandise. But My Pet Monster was the coolest of the friend dolls. He was like that friend that shows up to your house with a six-pack of craft brews to share. A cool guy, not that like My Buddy. My Buddy was like the friend who comes over to hang out but when he takes his shoes off it smells bad and you suddenly become painfully aware there’s still two hours left of the movie you guys agreed to watch.
My Pet Monster came with those handcuffs to share. Which I promptly ran off with and never returned. Eventually, I gunked up the Velcro straps with dog hair and lint balls. Then I lost one half of the cuffs. I’m sorry, My Pet Monster. As a friend, I was scum. I left you slumped over in the corner of my bedroom for years until one day my mother asked if she could throw you in the yard sale pile, and I just shrugged coldly. You tried to make eye contact with me, but I just fiddled with my Game Gear and looked away.
Like an ex that gets fabulous while you just get fat, My Pet Monster showed me. Now he regularly sells in the hundreds to two-hundreds on eBay. But maybe somewhere, my old friend is still looking out for me, because I recently found a pair of them orange handcuffs at the thrift store. Excitedly, I showed the wife but she had no idea what they were. She had real, living, human friends growing up, whom she now disgruntledly follows on Facebook, while I follow mine on eBay.
Since every kid basically did the same thing with the handcuffs as me, they’re actually quite rare to come by. A pair of the handcuffs alone recently sold on eBay for $72. Which is insane. And since I found them for thirty cents, I basically have bragging rights for life. So thanks, old pal, where ever you are. And if you happen to see My Buddy, do me a favor and punch him in the face.
Now for old time’s sake, I’m going to go sit on the floor and break the cuffs apart forty-five times, handcuff the dog, chug a Hi-C juice box, and stare open-mouthed at the television drooling for five hours after that.