It is safe to say that Lego, those benign blocks that found their way in between sofa cushions, clogging vacuum cleaner tubes, and, occasionally up nasal passages (and worse) were talismanic in their immensity on the toy landscape.
In his huge rec room downstairs, my friend Mark and I would erect fortresses and assemble formidable air forces with which to defend them. My friend had a vastly superior air force due to his ability to construct highly complex and flat-out cool designs. My strength was in terms of economies of scale: I put out many simple, and highly destructible airframes. Not wholly due to some nefarious master plan, but because I was rendered inferior through my friend’s sheer genius, I decided to focus on numbers, as opposed to an air force bloated and bristling with weapons. I would employ an airplane composed of three to five pieces, and send them on recon/suicide missions to Mark’s fortress. Cannon fodder.
This would go on for hours, although it felt like minutes, since
all time spent outside of church seemed to flash by. Mark’s mom would yell from upstairs that MY mom wanted me to come home. I could barely hear her above the sound of his 14 year old sister Jennifer (whom I had a crush on, of course) playing Disco Inferno on the hi-fi. The bass made the pictures on the walls vibrate. In an ecstasy of destruction and mayhem, we would unleash a final air assault that culminated in our smashing our creations into each, scattering Lego pieces everywhere, reminiscent of air battles of the past. A pilot’s ability was measured by how soon he could smash and destroy his machine against his enemy’s. Mark’s wonderfully intricate designs would become reduced to its component parts, and I would caper about the rec room, in a parody of bloodlust.Fuelled by endless glasses of Coke, served in gas station collectible tumblers, we would both fall to the floor in quivering exhaustion, completely spent. Then, we’d make each other laugh by saying nonsensical words like ‘Oya!’, in a pirate’s voice. I can’t remember laughing so hard at, what passed for us, as the height of sophisticated wit. The phrase ‘weiner sandwich’ brought us into paroxysms of mirth – the unholy coupling of these two disparate words produced an alloy of unvarnished hilarity. We were 12 years old.
Today, Lego is useful as view fodder, because they can be fed onto the belt of a moving treadmill to be stepped on, to the delight of the entire planet. The kits are prohibitively expensive, and their stores are often the targets of thieves because of this. I have yet to buy black market Lego, though I do not doubt that it is out there. I can get you some plank shapes in a grey. Some classic stuff. Or I can get you a kit that can be assembled into Darth Vader’s mask, but nothing else. You want some spare Ikea parts? I can hook you up, bruh.
Don’t tell my mom this, but I gave away my childhood box of smelly and well-worn Lego to some folks behind a thrift store I was about to go in and donate to. They seemed inordinately happy about their unexpected largesse, and we both separated contented, though not without a tinge of regret.