Weekend Vignette #2: The Beachball

July 25, 2006

A heat wave over the weekend compelled us to the lake last Saturday. We first stopped off at Walgreens to buy a beach umbrella for me and a beachball for my son. Once I got back into the steaming car, I pulled the beachball out to inflate. Before my lips touched the valve, my eyes suddenly fixated on a sticker that was glued to the plastic package. It read:

WARNING: This product contains lead, a chemical known to the state of Califonria to cause cancer, and birth defects or other reproductive harm. Wash your hands after handling.

Furthermore, on the ball itself was printed the warning “Keep away from heat and prolonged sunlight.”

Seriously, WTF is wrong with this picture? Why would anyone want to sell beachballs that you must keep out of the sun and avoid touching due to lead exposure? Why would anyone want to buy such a thing? Labeling laws are always, always under fire, yet they are such crucial guides to us parents trying to navigate the aisles of plastic crap from China.

Some days, I don’t know whether to shake my fist in the air or just sigh, heavily. We can land a man on the moon but we can’t make a safe and durable beachball for kids? Jesus!

We had fun at the lake, regardless of my little fit. Remember when Ralph Nader was the king of consumer advocates, before his ego ate his credibility? We need a new mascot.