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by: Audrey Lintner

Are you familiar with the Sphere of Irritation? I don't mean measuring how close people can get into your personal space before you slug them. No, the Sphere of Irritation is a seemingly innocuous plastic ball that currently resides on our dining room table.

The proper name for this annoying device is a Perplexus. It's a clear plastic ball with a maze built inside. You guide a little ball bearing along the track of the maze, twisting and turning the plastic ball through every possible rotational degree until you reach the goal.

In theory.

In reality, what happens is far less glamorous and much more profane. The day I brought this thing home, I shook the ball bearing around to the starting point and sent it rolling down the track.

It promptly fell off.

I guided the ball back to the start and tried again. I got about six inches further this time. A sigh. Restart. After several attempts, I was tempted to write a review, correcting the customers who tout the Perplexus as a great "quiet time toy". In spite of the lack of batteries, noise, and flashing lights, there is no quiet time with this toy.

Shouting and swearing, yes. Quiet time, no.

I finally slammed the thing on its pedestal in disgust. "Stupid toy. I hate this thing!"

Seconds ticked by.

"Well, lemme give it one more try."

Roll, roll, roll . . . clunk. Slam!

"Stupid toy. I hate this thing!" (pause) "Well, lemme give it one more try."

At last I was rewarded, and the ball rolled into the goal. "Woo-hoo! Yeah! Go, me! I did it!" I performed a Happy Dance of victory and offered the Sphere of Irritation to Larry. He declined in no uncertain terms, citing the fact that one crazed person in the house was plenty, thank you.

The Sphere of Irritation now sits on the table in full view of unsuspecting visitors. It never fails to draw curious hands, and never fails to play out the same way.

"What's this?" Roll, roll, roll . . . clunk. Slam! "Stupid toy. I hate this thing!"


"Well, lemme give it one more try."