Declan and the Squeeze Box


In my home, my son Declan and I have something of an unspoken agreement: if he has access to something, and can readily hold it in his arms, then it is, by definition, Declan’s, and he can do whatever he wants with it. And because my son is a three year old hellion, that means that he generally wants to throw it, and jump up and down on it, and draw on it with a permanent marker. 

Destruction comes naturally to my son. I belong to the Marvel Collector’s Club because I enjoy getting mail and also I suppose I never matured emotionally beyond the early teens and for a delusional moment there, I imagined that I could let Dex have 90 percent of my comic book haul and then I could keep ten percent to myself. 

Oh, what a fool I was! I quickly I came to realize that if Declan touched something, then he then had free reign to do whatever he wanted with it. And that’s surprisingly okay with me. When you have a three year old, you cannot be too precious with your belongings. When I buy something, I just assume that unless I deliberately put it somewhere beyond Declan’s reach, or if I somehow manage to keep him from knowing that this item exists, Declan is going to get his hands on it and he is probably going to break it. 

I don’t have that many material possessions that I treasure, but the few material possessions that I do treasure, I treasure the holy living fuck out of. I’m talking about my Quasimoto/Dilla/MF DOOM collections, disgraced boy band Svengali Lou Pearlman’s college diplomas and “20th Century Republican National Leader” certificate, my Richie Tenenbaum tennis trophy from a Royal Tenenbaums Ebay auction, a watercolor portrait of myself painted by filmmaker Michel Gondry, some Wacky Packages original art, and some other stuff of intense nostalgic value to me. 

Two days ago another object of intense  nostalgic value arrived at my humble little apartment: Squeeze Box, the “Weird Al” Yankovic box set, which is housed in a gorgeous replica of an accordion and contains every single studio album Al has ever released, along with an album of rarities and b-sides. 

I had very high expectations for Squeeze Box and sweet lord did it ever live up to them. It’s the kind of thing I want to take out and stare at for hours at a time. I’m reluctant to do that, however, because I know that as soon as Declan can hold that glorious faux-accordion in his hand, it will stop being a pristine, gorgeous object of obsession and become a toy for Declan. 

In a perfect world, I’d have two Squeeze Boxes, one to put high up on a shelf and one for Declan to do to it what he does to everything he touches. In this world, it’s remarkable I have even one of these box sets. 

Declan hasn’t really gotten into playing records yet and it seems like this would be a good way to get him interested in a record player as a particularly magical piece of old-school technology but the fussy collector in me, who still somehow labors under the delusion that he can keep my son from destroying all in his purview, still wants to keep it as mint as possible. 


It’s probably inevitable that Squeeze Box will become Declan’s, one way or another. It’s the way of the world, and truth be told, I am overjoyed at the prospect of introducing Declan to “Weird Al” Yankovic, and if my pretty little box set gets a little battered and bruised in the process, that won’t be the worst thing in the word. 

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