40 miles north of Columbus, that’s where.

There are a lot of things which I loved as a child but which I have outgrown.  Tinkertoys.  Most kinds of candy.  Red Lobster restaurants.  And, evidently, I ate my entire lifetime supply of peanut butter as a toddler — even the memory of eating a peanut butter sandwich makes me want to throw up.  Word search puzzles.  Cap’n Crunch cereal.  Those books where you have the yellowish highlighter pen, and you make answers appear.  Car Talk.

But not Where’s Waldo. Never Where’s Waldo. I hadn’t thought about that bobble-hatted wanderer in years, until I just happened to notice Where’s Waldo: the Great Paper Chase, the 7th book in Waldo canon (apparently Ultimate Fun Book and Poster Book don’t count) while I was picking some stuff up for my daughter at the library. I couldn’t resist.

And flipping through the book, it all came back. All the nights I stayed up trying to go through all the pages of all the books in a row. That time when the whole page was Waldos but the real one had no shoe. The time I dressed as Waldo for Halloween. Watching every episode of the deservedly

I admire their elegance. No moving parts. No electricity. But engaging for reasons that are hard to pinpoint. It was the Where’s Waldo books, and later Christopher Manson’s Maze, that made me mourn the fact that I couldn’t draw a good picture to save my life.

I remarked to my wife how much I’d liked the books, how nice it would be to have them on a shelf someday. Then I remembered I’m a grown man with a good job and the ability to buy books.

So…I bought the first six in the paperback box set, and the seventh in hardcover. $40 total. So worth it. This morning I did a little Waldo-hunting with breakfast, and tonight I’ll introduce my daughter to Waldo.

And I won’t lie, they’re better than I remember them. Literally. The books I had as a child (the first three) were remade and improved, with Waldo moved and the other characters who hadn’t been invented yet at the beginning (Wenda, Woof, Whitebeard, Odlaw, and all their dropped stuff) added in, as well as new innovations. Genius.

It is comforting to know that some things will always bring me joy.

Bonus Remark:

You know what would be a good hobby?  Dressing up as Waldo and trying to get your picture taken as part of a crowd, or in the background.

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