X – X-Ray Vision

A-Z Survival Guide to Life

X – X-Ray Vision

This is the twenty-fourth installment in the A-Z Survival Guide to Life I am writing for my boys.

Back when I was a kid, I loved comic books. I loved the Archie comics with Archie (of course) and all the rest of the gang.  I also loved Richie, Rich – The Poor Little Rich Boy who I never really felt sorry for, because he had everything a kid could ever want.  I even liked the Marvel comics.  I would pore over those comic books for hours.  The thing that fascinated me almost as much as the actual comic book was the advertisements in the back of the magazines.  I studied those advertisements with the X-ray Vision glasses, the Frontier Cabin and the Sea Monkeys.   Of all the cool things advertised in the back of the comics, the Sea Monkeys were by far the most enticing.


I really wanted Sea Monkeys. For $1.25 I could purchase the little Sea Monkey House, where the Mom, Dad and Sea Monkey children would be safely ensconced.  The Mom and Dad wore crowns (they were depicted in the ad as wearing crowns, so of course it must have been true), which I thought was awesome. And according to the ad they were totally trainable. I had dreams of putting tu-tus on them, and training them to do all kinds of tricks.  I saved up my money and put it in a little envelope and mailed it off.  I couldn’t believe I was actually going to be the owner of a family of Sea Monkeys.  I bet Richie-Rich didn’t even have Sea Monkeys.  While awaiting their arrival, I could barely contain myself, I dreamed of the good times we would have, me and my Sea Monkeys.

It seemed like forever, but the Sea Monkeys finally arrived. I put the little aquarium (actually it was basically just a clear plastic box, I don’t remember if it had a castle like the advertisement said it would).  I took the little packet, such a small packet, of dried Sea Monkeys and followed the instructions carefully.  I couldn’t believe such a tiny packet could hold so much happiness, and all I had to do was add water.  Everything was mixed, including the Sea Monkey “Grow Powder”.  I waited, and each day I desperately looked into the Sea Monkey house for movement, some sign of life.

And I waited.

And waited.

Finally, I saw movement, there was life in my Sea Monkey tank. Now at the time of the Sea Monkey fiasco, I also owned a turtle.  Just a little one, but he was cool.  I fed him brine shrimp, because he loved them so, it was his special treat.  So you can imagine my horror and dismay, when the movement I espied in the Sea Monkey tank was simply because of brine shrimp that had hatched from the Sea Monkey eggs.  I didn’t completely give up though, I thought, as only kids could think, that somehow they would magically metamorphose into actual Sea Monkeys.  But they never did.  Dashed were my dreams of Sea Moneys wearing brightly colored tu-tus and doing cool tricks, going on picnics in their Sea Monkey tanks, lounging around with their crowns and watching I Dream of Jeannie with me through their tank.  Disgusted, and feeling betrayed – I fed my Sea Monkeys to the turtle. He loved them.

In the end I wished I had ordered the X-Ray vision glasses, but that was more a boy thing to do, so they could look at girls and see through their clothes. I didn’t really want to see through any girl’s clothes.

When I was a kid, and really even now, I wanted super powers. Not the basic super power like invisibility power, or flying or spinning webs or anything that obvious.  I wanted the ability to read people’s minds.  And not really read their minds but understand their true motives.  I wanted to be able to see through all the hype, and words, and really see and understand why they did the things they did.  If I had thought those X-Ray Vision glasses would have afforded me that ability, that power, I would most definitely have plunked my $1.25 down on them, without a second thought and completely bypassed the whole Sea Monkey thing.

And you are probably wondering why I tell you all this. Well, in preparing to write this post I did some research on the Sea Monkeys.  It turns out the same guy who bilked millions of kids out of their hard-earned $1.25 was the same guy that invented the X-ray vision glasses, Harold von Braunhut. I read that he made over $3.4 million on his Sea Monkeys alone.  He died in 2003.  His wife, who was some kind of bondage-film actress is fighting for this money and lives destitute in a mansion somewhere in Maryland according to a recent New York Times article.  Von Braunhut was considered a mad genius, but in my estimation he was just a con-man and evil at that. I also read he had ties to the Aryan Nation and the Klu-Klux-Klan. Nice guy.

There are so many rotten to core people out there. They come in all shapes and sizes.  They may seem innocuous, and act as though they have your best interest at heart, but they do not.  Look at Harold von Braunhut – he sold toys to kids for years, his advertisements claimed all kinds of things that were completely false, but he was never called on it.  He made millions off of kids like me and he was allowed to do so.  My point is, just because everyone else trusts someone, always look at the bigger picture, try and figure out what their motives and agendas are.

I wish I had X-Ray vision glasses that could see into people’s minds, uncover their true motives, understand why they do the things they do. I wish the X-Ray Vision glasses had some kind of meter that indicated if the person was genuine or just a total schmuck like von Braunhut, or somewhere in between.  Now that would be well worth my $1.25.

The bottom line is don’t believe everything you hear and see. What is touted as trainable, loveable Sea Monkeys may be nothing more than a bunch of stinky brine shrimp.

Photo credit – mentalfloss.com

19 replies »

  1. I loved this and it’s so true. I felt bad for your sea monkey fiasco and shame on the con-man who took advantage of so many children. We don’t have X-ray vision but we do have our gut instincts. We should all listen to them when they rumble. It has been a pleasure taking this challenge journey with you. Great post. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles

    • Hi Sheila – thank-you for the kind comment. It too has been a pleasure and a privilege to follow along with you on the challenge. I, however am not done and must scurry away to come up with Y and Z. I should have done a post on P- Procrastination, because I know a great deal about that.

  2. This is a great lesson. I remember seeing ads for the Sea Monkeys but never had the wherewithal to order any. Also $1.25 was an issue. Probably just as well that I didn’t get my heart broken over them. I’m impressed that you thought to research the rest of the story about the inventor of Sea Monkeys, but it sure is a sad one, on many levels of weird. However did we survive childhood? 😉

    • I always wonder that too – how did we survive childhood. The Sea Monkeys was a good lesson for me. I was horrified to find out about the inventor of the Sea Monkey. He also sol something like an “Invisible Fish Bowl” It was just a bowl with water -how did he live with himself?

  3. I remember exactly that advertisement, probably from Marvel comics. I wanted to get sea monkeys too, although I don’t remember tutus every coming into my plans at all. My mother always stomped on my dreams, though. She said the whole thing was a complete waste of money and wouldn’t allow me to order them. Now I find after all these years that she was 100% right.

    • It’s a good lesson to be learned for a $1.25, that’s for sure. I still feel a little bit betrayed though even after all these years.

  4. We bought LM a triops kit (same idea as sea monkeys) but it didn’t hatch anything. He was so excited about his prehistoric pets and waited for days.

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