Off-label use. The phrase actually refers to medications that are prescribed by doctors for reasons other than the ones they are FDA approved for. But to me it means that phenomenon of childhood, when a kid finds a fabulous use for a toy that the designers never intended.
When Tre was three, he had this plastic ring toss game. I don’t think he ever used it as a ring toss. He also never called it a ring toss. He called it a “Gak.” This is a literary reference from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, by Dr. Seuss. Look it up. Anyhow, he would often take the base of the Gak and fit the pieces together to make a long, narrow rectangle. The posts and rings were discarded and the resulting item was his guitar. He would hold it all wrong, both hands reaching up over the top of his guitar, and strum it enthusiastically. And sing loudly. And gyrate. He loved his guitar, and we loved him playing his guitar. Ring toss games are stupid and lame, but that guitar rocked.
Today Raphael was playing with a plastic bone. It went with this incredibly stupid toy, a battery powered dog that was supposed to pick up the bone in its mouth. Never worked right. I don’t know why I never threw away the bone. The dog is long gone. I guess the bone was just the right size to sift down between toys to the bottom of the toy box, escaping notice during toy-pitching frenzies. Well, Raphael was carrying it around in his mouth this afternoon, being a dog. He was barking and panting, and drooling around this bone. “What ‘cha got there?” I asked. He spit it out and answered, “Iss mah tookle.”
I had to think about it for a minute. Then I put it together. A friend of mine has a daughter, who is just 12 days younger than Raphael. Poor Iona. She’s suffered mightily at the hands of Raphi. Anyhow, Iona uses a pacifier. And her family nickname is Tookle (all together now, awwwww). So now this bone has become a pacifier, and taken the nickname of the girl that pacifiers evoke to Raphael.
He chewed on his tookle all afternoon. I call that a fine off-label use.
Um…as an aside here, does anyone know why my email program is inserting “I’VE” in the place of “I” in all my outgoing emails? I’m somewhat baffled. Anyone? Anyone? Josh? I need to fix this because my emails sound like this:
Gosh, I’VE am such a doofus. I’VE can’t even construct a normal sentence. Maybe I’VE need help.