Like Howard Cosell, I never Playawayed the game. Playaways are the new game at your library and bookstore, a cross between a book-on-tape and one of those classic game keychain from Basic Fun that you just couldn't resist at Target a few years back.

My Get Smart lunchbox keychain is missing its Thermos bottle lid and the plastic apple, but it still makes me laugh. Spies were all the rage in my Sixties childhood. Back then we expected our intelligence gathering agencies to actually gather intelligence while talking on their shoe phones and shooting bad guys with fake plastic finger and belt buckle guns.

My extended family had Craig 212 tape recorders so we could mail tapes to each other and avoid those expensive long-distance phone calls. If we were lucky those recordings would self-destruct in thirty seconds with a pulsing music soundtrack.

Back in my Sixties childhood, my mom nagged us to take the Kleenex out of our pockets before we threw our dirty clothes down the laundry chute. Nagging is so totally out of style this millennium! Who could possibly remember all by themselves to remove the Playaway from their pocket before it spins, tumbles, and self-destructs? Is this the future of the book? I'm worried.

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