I felt violated.
Not big violated, like somebody robbed and beat me, but little violated, like somebody cut in front of me in line. Or … some other, deeper, more meaningful comparison lurking in the archives of my mind. But, as my Fabulous Bride DebbieMiller says, I couldn’t get there from here.
This particular penetration of my emotional wholeness? A story, written for Shattered, by this guy Dennis Finocchiaro. Never heard of him. What’s he doing writing about LEGO?
I’m the LEGO guy around this outfit. Who’s this pup think he is?
Doesn’t he know I wrote about my LEGO advent calendar in these very pages? And doesn’t he know Facebook readers are following the zany antics of Legopolis, the desktop highrise community, since early March?
His very title set me fuming.
“Yes, You Can Play With LEGO as an Adult.”
From where I’m sitting, that’s like saying, “Yes! You can eat birthday cake as an adult. You can ride a bicycle as an adult. You can wear short pants.” … Eh, you get the idea.
I took my Legos to college with me, buster! And during the Carter administration, we didn’t do this fancy-schmancy, euro-tech, all-caps “LEGO” stuff. We called them Legos, and that’s the way we liked it. Somewhere there’s a 1979 photo of me wearing a Devo-style pyramid hat made out of 2X4 bricks.
Another thing. This story of his gets all hyped up about people who build with sets. I never understood those people. I imagine myself in a conversation:
“So, you build the model of Tokyo. Then you just stick it up on a shelf?”
“Yep! I also built Dubai, the Taj Mahal, the Empire State Building and the Hogwarts Astronomy Tower!”
Idiot. You let two hundred bucks worth of Legos — yes, I went there; deal with it — just sit there on a shelf? Don’t you know once you build the model, you’re supposed to dismantle it and integrate all the parts into your collection?
My first “made” set was a little transport truck. In those days, the kits and sets were pretty much just a bunch of regular bricks with a few special parts added into the mix.
The cargo box sits blockily atop two pairs of standard-issue grey, white and red wheels, some yellow bricks and a couple of grey plates. In those days, they weren’t making 50 different windshields for cars, trucks, airplanes and spaceships. Nope, you got eight clear bricks for your windshield and side windows, and you were happy to have them.
The special parts were two yellow doors with clear windows for the cab, two big, blue side doors, and two rear doors, all of which opened and closed. You couldn’t get those anyplace else.
Another big feature ― it steered! There was a tiny, red brick stenciled “LEGO” on top of the cab, and when you operated it, the front wheels turned. That LEGO logo brick resides safe and sound in a special section of my LEGO works.
Pondering hours and years of tearing apart and rebuilding my creations, I realized anew what joy LEGO brings into my life.
Something else swam into focus, as well. The particular variety of violation I groped for earlier. Weirdly specific, really.
I felt like the old-money pillars of the church who show up for worship 14 seconds before the end of the prelude, find newcomers in “their” pew, then shoo them out with a glare and a whisper audible to everyone: “That’s been The Hall Family Pew since the War of Northern Aggression!”
Did You Know?
While I sneered at them, lots of people view those elaborate, expensive LEGO building sets as something like 3-D jigsaw puzzles. They find them meditative, calming.
Dennis quotes fan Simon Cant: “When you’re looking for the right brick, you don’t have time to look for problems.”
Did you know building with LEGO is bringing families together during the COVID-19 quarantine?
Did you know LEGO helps people with autism, addiction recovery, even loss and grief?
Did you know there’s an actual, official LEGO term for structures like my Legopolis? It’s an MOC ― an acronym for My Own Creation.
I didn’t know any of that before Dennis wised me up.
I felt like Molière’s Monsieur Jourdain in “The Bourgeois Gentleman.”
“Well, what do you know about that! These forty years now I’ve been speaking in prose without knowing it!”
Whaddya know! After 55 years slinging LEGO around, now I know the structure burgeoning on my desk is an MOC!
I know stuff I didn’t know before! I possess new knowledge that helps me appreciate what I already knew! Holy past is prologue, Batman!
I may be LEGO Old Money, but I resolve not to act like the church’s justly maligned “Frozen Chosen,” taking up space and keeping out less stagnated new blood.
Every time Legopolis suffers my engineering hubris and crashes to the ground, it offers me a chance to regroup and rebuild.
It’s a ritual I have treasured since childhood, and one I hope to pursue until my fingers are too gnarled and weak to manipulate those sublime little bits of plastic, or my mind is too befuddled to comprehend them. As a LEGO enthusiast, like my creations, I am constantly renewed.
I pray similar blessings upon all my brothers and sisters in LEGO.
Not only do I love LEGO, I want to share the love. I won’t let denominational differences keep me from it. I won’t refuse to welcome others just because they love LEGO differently than I do.
I hope this doesn’t sound condescending, because I am new here myself, but welcome to Shattered, Dennis, and thanks for the lessons in LEGO. And a bunch of other stuff.