1989: A tale of times past (The one about the tail-end of the Cold War, Stephen King’s son and my own grandmother)

If you believe the legends this one has that Stephen King’s son, a boy then, came up with the idea for this specific GI Joe action figure called Crystal Ball back in ‘87. Now do get to read CB’s cardback and it’s all there: deeply rooted in gypsy origin, only weapon is a shield-like appendage that hypnotizes people, has distinct evil-looking goatee and the works.
Not only that- and this is way for real- the civilian ID for the Sneak Peak action figure released around that time is indeed the boy’s own name. At least that one bit’s been verified and it’s henceforth true enough.

I wasn’t really aware of my father’s income when I was nine years old but in hindsight, especially considering he never really worked on a fixed wage, he had his bad months and his good months, thus the month or at least this one particular Friday evening in 1989 described in the ensuing lines must have been a great one.
When I was a small boy I’d sleep over at grandma’s every Friday night so my parents would go out. Depending (again, in hindsight) of that week’s financial result, my father would buy me either a comic book or toys. On this specific Friday, sometime during school period back in 1989 my father took me to the mall and bought me a sh*tload of GI Joe stuff. If I remember correctly my report card had arrived and it was pretty much all golden, top of my class (It would take me a couple of years to go on and become a lousy student, but that’s a story for another day).
Here’s a complete list of what I got that evening before going over to grandma’s: 01x Crystal Ball action figure (orig. rel. 1987), 01x Snake Eyes action figure (ver.II, orig. rel. 1985), the cool one with the wolf, and 01x Asp ground-to-air artillery (the Python Patrol variant, orig. rel. 1984).

A rhetorical question if there’s ever been one: Was it just me or were the Cobras really Soviet agents in secret? I mean, every damn time I’d lay my hands on my GI Joes it was always about Gorbachev sending out orders for Cobra Commander so that he’d blow up a nuclear power plant, steal precious military secrets for some brand-new invisible spacecraft, kill the US President and so on. Once again, blame it on the Kali Yuga and the color TV.
So this time around, this night around the Russians ordered for the Cobras to establish a hidden artillery base underneath the aerial corridor the Joes used to transport cargos in C-130s. Thus, Crystal Ball was stationed atop the centerpiece marble table in the living room at my grandmother’s, manning the Asp vehicle to shoot down the (fictional) passing aircraft and since the Asp was indeed mobile the Joes had a hard time finding it.
…Snake Eyes to the rescue… etc.

Now 1989 was the same year Sonny Crockett headed down that Miami Beach street after regaining his memory in the last season of Miami Vice and there was still a USSR on the map in our classroom.
Some dumb kid in class with his ears like Dumbo’s would ask the teacher whether that spot on Gorbachev’s forehead was indeed shaped like the map of Russia (it isn’t), and this guy D**** would swear to me that his dad really was a KGB agent (he wasn’t) and he got to ride the Soviet space shuttle out of Baikonur during Christmas break and would invite me to tag along next year (he never did).