Take the Stressball. Right away, you know this is a ball with a therapeutic mission. The box the ball comes in tells you that to relieve stress you should "throw yourself a harmless little tantrum" with the Stressball. Now honestly, who wants to play with a ball that orders you around before you've even taken it out of the box? But, for argument's sake, say that you are under a lot of stress. What are you going to do?
Follow the directions on the box. First, open it, and...what's this? More orders? Though the directions state that the Stressball can be thrown at anything, the ball comes with a "bunny tantrum target" for beginners ("bunny" as in the sort of slope favored by novice skiers), and it provides a "focus for your blind aggression." You're supposed to toss the Stressball at rings on the paper bunny target. They represent such loathsome people as "Your therapist, who just bought a classic 1932 Bentley," "Your stockbroker, who just bought a new Lamborghini," "Your mechanic, who can't hear the noise under the hood but says you need a new transmission," and so on.
If you can forget for a moment that someone connected with the Stressball has an acute case of automobile envy, it's time to "throw yourself a harmless little tantrum." Harmless? Throw a tantrum with this baby, and you're likely to wind up in shock therapy. The ball is a little too big to fit in one hand, a little too hard to squeeze and just similar enough to Styrofoam to make you anxious about the ozone layer. And that's not all.
Whether you throw the Stressball against the bunny-tantrum target or drop it on the ground, it lets out a clap of deafening static that's practically guaranteed to shatter the soundest psyche. The noise is supposed to remind you of "the sound 'of a plate glass window breaking." We all know how calming that is. On the other hand, if you're taking orders from a ball, you're pretty close to the edge anyway. If you were a little more clear-minded you would see that the Stressball is in no position to boast about its lineage. It is nothing more than a lowly descendant of fast-food containers, baseballs and static-ridden walkie-talkies, desperately struggling to become a real ball.
Snicker if you like. But the upstarts of today are the balls your children will play with tomorrow. Bear in mind that baseballs, basketballs, tennis balls and footballs were once oddballs looking for a little respect.