I left the house this morning on a mission to find the season’s most coveted toy: the Squishmallow, which I had never even heard of prior to a couple weeks ago, when Nicole Zelniker wrote about them for the paper.

And I don’t even have kids! I mean, I do, but none of them are of an age where a Squishmallow would do them any good. The oldest wants cash. The middle wants gadgetry. The youngest wants more black clothing.

But there are some tiny ones in my life, and for them I went in seek of the Squishmallow, as many as I could get my hands on. I ordered a few online last week, but only two of them have made it to the house thus far, which is not enough. I picked a stray one up at Target over the weekend, the only one they had. But it’s way larger than the others, which is not ideal. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

Really, though, I miss the hunt.

I’ve chased down hot toys in the waning days of December before, braved icy parking lots and zombified cashiers, worked the phones and then spent miles in my car. I’ve followed hunches by wheeling into random parking lots and scouring the aisles. That’s how I go the last Xbox at the Kmart on Bridford Parkway in 2007.

I stopped by my local Walmart on the way to the office this morning, where I encountered exactly one Squishmallow — unfortunately, the exact same one that came in the mail last week.

Then I hunkered down at my desk to flex some research muscle, willing to drive as far as one county in any direction. I typed it in and hit the “shopping” tag. My blood was racing. The hunt was on!

But a lot has changed since I tracked down that last, lonely Xbox. I sourced a Squishmallow almost immediately, at a Target across town, then paid for it with a couple clicks. It’s sitting there waiting for me now. It was only a bit more exciting as pulling a gallon of milk from the cooler at the grocery store.

I take some satisfaction in knowing it’s one of the last ones in the store. But my toy-hunting skills are wasted in this new age. And I’m pretty sure I’ve got one too many Squishmallows.

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