I’ll never forget that feeling I got, as I ripped open my birthday present and saw a little nugget of fur with two giant doughy eyes staring back at me. I was so overjoyed- I almost cried.
“What is that? Is that supposed to be a hamster or something?” my grandmother asked, staring at my gift as if it were a diseased rat.
“I think it’s an owl, Darling,” my grandfather said.
I looked at them, offended by their ignorance.
“No, no, it’s a FURBY!” I exclaimed.
That’s right, I had a Furby. And my grandparents we’re right- it did look like a hamster/owl/gizmo from the movie “Gremlins.” I had spent months begging for one of my own. Furbies were the must-have toy of the 90s. These little furry robots with beaks started off speaking “furbish,” but if you nurtured them and gave them lots of love, they would develop language skills and eventually speak broken English. These little electronic fur-balls even blinked and could sense when you entered the room or were nearby. Their intelligence made them the coolest toy around, and it didn’t take long for the Furby Fever to spread like wild fire.
I brought my Furby everywhere- to school, to the grocery store, and I even brought him on family vacations, since I considered it part of the family. I remember crying when I found out that my school banned Furbies. Turns out, every kid with one would bring it to school, and during class all the backpacks would start talking in furbish. If one Furby started speaking, it would set off all the others, and it was hard to stop a Furby social.
The Furby craze only got crazier, and people were a little extreme. I heard a story about one couple going through a divorce, and they actually fought over custody of their Furby. I heard another story about how this guy’s Furby died and he actually had someone perform an autopsy to declare its cause of death (FYI: every Furby has a reset button that brings them back to life). But people were going loony for their Furbies.
For the first 3 months, I was a proud mama of a Furby; but then I quickly learned why these toys were just a temporary fad. The more my Furby matured, the more needy and annoying this stupid toy became. During the night, I was awakened by my Furby crying and whining in furbish. It wouldn’t stop until I held it and rocked it back to sleep. This would happen at least 3-4 times a night. At just 9 years old, I was spending sleepless nights taking care of my Furby, who had more needs than a newborn infant. I could have easily taken the AA batteries out and be done with it, but according kid’s law, it would be murder.
Soon, my Furby experience became something out of a scary science fiction movie. My Furby wasn’t a cute and cuddly creature anymore; instead, it was this creepy evil gremlin that would stare at me when its eyes were supposed to be closed (according to the instruction manual). I began to struggle with the idea that my Furby was no longer battery-operated, but rather it had taken on a life of its own. My Furby started having mood swings. Its voice got deeper and at times, it sounded demonic. There were nights I woke up in a cold sweat from nightmares about those big buggy evil eyes turning firey red and sharp fangs suddenly growing from that weird orange beak. Yes, I had developed a Furby Phobia. Before long, I made my mother throw away my Furby.
To this day, I still feel uneasy when I see pictures of Furbies, and even thinking about that fur-ball with a small beak and big bulging eyes gives me the eebie jeebies. I am grateful this freaky toy is a fad of the past. All I can say is that when I have kids, the only toys they’re getting are good old-fashion Barbie dolls and G.I. Joes.