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Mick Jagger’s Adventures in Toyland

12 August 2009 One Million Watts 42,082 views 29 CommentsPrint This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post

When I moved to Seattle in the mid-’90s, two months AC (After Cobain), I worked downtown at a large boutique toy store. It was an impressive place, two floors, multiple rooms and secret passages full of toy overstock that extended out under the street. To get the job I had to talk to a stuffed gorilla and endure the humiliation of being referred to as one the “Elves” that worked there. Even the break room had a sign that said, “Elf Break Room.” Being 6′ 5″ tall and called an elf added an extra schmear of humiliation on the bagel of hopelessness that was my life at the time.

One of the nice parts of the job was getting to meet the celebrities that shopped there. The biggest of those was Mick Jagger. It was during the Stones’ Voodoo Lounge tour, not that I had any idea they were in town or that they had an album out called Voodoo Lounge. I was a young snot at the time, unimpressed with the Rolling Stones. They were nothing compared to The Pixies or Guided By Voices, why should I be impressed with Mick Jagger? Hell, he’s not even a Beatle.

I was alone in that opinion at the toy store. The other staff scattered, terrified to talk to him, in awe of his fame, whispering about him behind piles of stuffed bears and shelves full of puzzles. I volunteered to help him because no one else would. I introduced myself and he indicated that I should make myself available to him while he shopped. He did this not through speech, but through a series of minute facial changes that wealthy British people have developed over centuries of colonization and oppression of the lower class. One twitch of his famously over-sized lips and I knew my place.

The female owner of the store approached him and I thought her head was going to split in half from the size of her smile. “Mr. Jagger,” she said, “I just have to tell you how much your music means to me. I lost my virginity to one of your songs in the back of a 1965 Chevy convertible. ‘Jumping Jack Flash!’”

“That’s very sweet of you,” he muttered, indicating with a slight flare of his right nostril that the conversation was over and that she should leave him alone. But, to her it was as if he had swooped her off her feet, carried her out side and made love to her. That simple sentence flushed her cheeks and made her eyes roll back in ecstasy.

Then he began to shop. At first, I didn’t understand his method of shopping. As he entered each new room of the store, he would begin taking things off the shelf and stacking them in the middle of the room. As he left, I would start putting them back, cursing at him under my breath for making a mess. Then, it dawned on me I was supposed to be carrying these items to the register for him.

Three times during this process women stopped him and described a sexual experience they had had that somehow connected to his music. I imagined that this must be his life — middle-aged women describing sex to him as he went about his daily business. To him, it must be like the sun shining or gravity, an unavoidable part of the landscape. I wondered if he even heard them anymore or if it was just a staticy buzz that surrounded him like the low hum of a swarm of mosquitoes.

Only once did I feel that he broke through this cloud and spoke to me not as a sales clerk but just a human. In the book room he turned to me and said, “Is this the latest Magic Eye book? I love them, but I can’t remember if I have this one.” Magic Eye, if you don’t remember, was a series of books with pictures of a seeming series of random lines and dots that if you stared at them in a particular way formed a three dimensional picture of an object.

I told him it was.

“Don’t you love these books?”

I had to admit that I couldn’t see the pictures in the abstract mess on the page, and he looked at me in a very concerned way.

“You just need to relax your eyes and not stare directly at it. Let them unfocus. Yes, that’s it, just like that.”

He held the book open and I looked, following his instruction. There, in full three dimensions, stood a unicorn.

I told him I saw the unicorn and he smiled and shut the book. He went back to his aloof manner.

I checked him out and he wrote a check. (Oh, I don’t need to see ID from you, Mr. Jagger!) As soon as he stepped away from the counter the owner grabbed the almost $1000 check and said that she would never cash it, she would have it framed and hang it in her office as art.

My eyes turned to the sidewalk. A chubby 45-year-old tourist in a track suit had stopped him. Her face was flushed under her overly-moused hairstyle. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, but I imagined she was telling him about heavy petting to “Mother’s Little Helper” in the back of a pickup truck on her parent’s farm.

If I met Mick Jagger now, I wouldn’t relate a sexual experience to him. I would tell him that he is the person who taught me how to see the picture in the Magic Eye.

- David Wahl

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29 Comments »

  1. Great article! Thank The Sneeze for sending me here!

  2. Not only do I remember the Magic Eye books, I remember well the feeling of superiority it gave when you could see the image and others couldn’t. Thanks to Mick Jagger, I no longer have that power over you.

  3. great story. great writing.

  4. I could never see the image in the magic eye books if I had my glasses on. The minute they were off though, I’d just relax my eyes for a few seconds and swoosh the image was there. I wonder if I would have the same problem seeing the images again if I had lasik done?

  5. That’s a funny story. Was that at Magic Mouse Toys? I bought my niece a life sized stuff dalmatian there last time I was in Seattle.

  6. “he indicated that I should make myself available to him while I shopped.”

    While he shopped.

  7. Loved this post!

    FWIW Mick Jagger lived for many years on Richmond Hill in West London. He popped into the tiny local video rental shop one night (mid 1990s IIRC) and was refused service because he’d forgotten his ID card and the lone teenager on duty had no clue who he was.

  8. I’ve only just noticed that the background behind Mick, above, is one of those Magic Eye things. Let me just unfocus my eyes .. ok, now I see .. TWO Mick Jaggers!

  9. Hey David,

    I just finished reading your story to Alan aloud. We both enjoyed the shopping excursion with Mick and our

    favorite Seattle guy, David Wahl. I especially like the reference of AC. Clever. I hope all these middle age women

    will read it as well and STOP with the sharing of their romancing to Stones songs. Poor Mick, but that does

    remind me of a time with Brown Sugar, but I will save that for another day. Amy

  10. [...] Mick Jagger im Spielzeugladen Three times during this process women stopped him and described a sexual experience they had had that somehow connected to his music. I imagined that this must be his life — middle-aged women describing sex to him as he went about his daily business. To him, it must be like the sun shining or gravity, an unavoidable part of the landscape. I wondered if he even heard them anymore or if it was just a staticy buzz that surrounded him like the low hum of a swarm of mosquitoes. [...]

  11. I still cannot see magic eye stuff. I could probably pick mmick jagger out of a line up, and never had sex to anything by the stones! I think it’s so funny how ga-ga people get over celebrities! Fun story! Especially the part about snobby english people’s facial expressions! I love seattle, spent 2 years stationed with my husband in everett and went whenever I could. Miss it very much. Loving the new monkey goggles.

  12. [...] @thesneeze Nice article by my friend David on selling Magic Eye books to Mick Jagger http://monkeygoggles.com/?p=128 [...]

  13. [...] a comment » *Anecdotes: Mick Jagger goes shopping at a toy store. [...]

  14. Terrific read. And I’m a huge Stones fan.

  15. I’m also here from The Sneeze. I think I would have been helplessly panicked once I realized he wanted me to be gathering the piles of things and ringing them up, trying desperately to remember everything that was in each pile. I guess I’m just not cut out to be an elf.

    Great story, well told!

  16. lol@the unicorn background. (hat tip jwz)

  17. great read.
    FYI, the 3d image above (in addition to a 2d jagger foto) is of an eagle…

  18. 3D image is not an eagle, – split tail wrong – and the bump on the head makes me think more like a Cockatiel

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cockatiel

  19. You’re a funny guy, David.

    They didn’t make you wear an elf suit, did they? *imagines Mick being followed around by a giant elf*

  20. [...] Mick Jagger’s Adventures in Toyland << Monkey Goggles (tags: RollingStones Toys) [...]

  21. [...] Mick Jagger’s Adventures in Toyland [...]

  22. [...] Mick Jagger’s Adventures in Toyland [...]

  23. love your writing.

  24. I know, it’s only rock n’ roll, but geez…Imagine living in THAT world…No wonder celebs live in the Altered States of Reality…

  25. [...] I didn’t even know that “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was a cover of a Rolling Stones song until my father told [...]

  26. In the day, the “Stones” provided my generation with a “Mystical Majesty Tour” by way of a diamond tip needle on black vinyl.

    We were able to participate in an underground sound experience via ingenious dark lyrics and psyche felt music.

    It comes to no surprise to me that kids of my generation connect these times to coming of age, or that Mick spends $1.000.00 in a toy store visit at any age and still alive to do it!

    Thanks for the fierce time travel.

  27. [...] now and again I re-read David Wahl’s Mick Jagger story, and it cracks me up every time. My own Jagger story isn’t nearly as good, but it is a fond [...]

  28. [...] one I ever read, and apparently it hits on all cylinders with a lot of people.  It is titled Mick Jagger’s Adventures is Toyland and is the 2nd most popular post of all time on Monkey [...]

  29. [...] to become the sum total of your daily news habit — why, this week alone we're presenting Mick Jagger's adventures in Toyland, an almost too-close look at the craptastic goods of PICO Novelties, a rant against the boring [...]

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