Monday, November 08, 2010

Tomorrow May Never Come

I had to have been the world's worst kid.

Not bad in the usual sense of digging up mother's rubber plant because the front line in the plastic soldier war had stalled and the order came out to make for the foxholes.

Not bad in the sense of saving up a few auto parts store rebate bucks to buy a legion of "STP" and "Crane" racing stickers to surreptitously stick to the old man's Chrysler Imperial when he wasn't looking.

Not bad in the sense of opening the storm windows in January, pouring water on the sill to let it freeze so that the plastic soldiers (who had held the line and advanced on enemy positions in the spider plant) could have a skating rink for a little r and r.

Not even bad in that I didn't get being a kid and, like most other things in life, didn't do it all that well. Although confessing to mother-who recently had filled in the rubber plant trenches to their pre-hostility state-at age four that I "just didn't feel that I belonged on this particular earth", didn't do a lot for my carefree innocence of youth repartee.

Generally, I was pretty good as a kid. I got it and got it done right. From leaving garden hoses flowing all night to blowing holes in screens with stripped bare extension cords to felling walnut saplings for the ribs of teepees, I did pretty well.

I was the worst kid in that I had the patience of a fruit fly. It was now or never. Instant gratification wasn't fast enough and being that way and being me ensured that everything I engaged in ultimately wound up taking more time than I was willing to give to it.

I was like a home improvement episode where kitchens get installed in what seems like minutes. I was a cooking show where everything gets put in a 350 degree oven and, oh look, here's a fully cooked example! What do you mean it isn't done yet? I can see it completed in my mind's eye to perfection. Why are you still on step 2A?

Plastic models were the worst. The curse of my youth, the bane of my after school-Batman's a re-run-do something quiet in your room life.

Were these things invented by the same guy who had just perfected the Chinese water torture? Hey, just read a book on Sisyphus, let me get back to writing assembly instructions for the Bell "Huey" UH-1.

Here's where reasonable but insidiously detailed anal-retentive, clearly designed to stretch patience to the breaking point and beyond, directions for assembly meet eleven year old.

1) Select a quiet, well lit spot. I'm an only child with an over-protective mother. That could be the septic tank in our house.

2) Inspect the contents of the package to ensure that no parts are missing. I can see both halves of the chopper, what else is there?

3) Cut, do not twist off plastic parts. Are you kidding me? It takes an extra hand motion to pick up the ridiculous safety scissors that eventually gnaw away at the sprue the way a toothless beaver would chew up pulp. Hell, I've got my hands on the rotors, just snap them bad boys off.

4) Be sure to sand (Sand??? Sanding is the slow erosion of material against an abrasive over time. Think I got time???? I'm eleven!!!) chrome parts clean before applying adhesive. Oh. Ok. No chrome on here. Marines don't chop their birds or pimp their rides.

5) Glue rotor shaft to rotor cap. Set aside to dry overnight. THAT'S IT!!! Tomorrow??? I gotta go to school tomorrow!!! Tomorrow may never come!!! Forget about it! The point of plastic adhesive it that it melts styrene plastic surfaces and then they bond. Truth be known, plastic adhesive melts the outer skin surface which then glues both halves together and to step 5A of the instructions. The only thing I'm setting aside overnight is me.

So inevitably the Bell "Huey" UH-1 wound up looking like a fine military machine that at the last minute had been left in a blast furnace just a few minutes too long and sailing it around the entrenced army of the rubber plant platoon was only so satisfying as the gunners couldn't look out the fogged with your glue-festooned fingerprint windshields.

And fortunately you grew up and realized that good things take time to which the same engineering sociopath who wrote the "set aside" instructions moved on to design microwaves, graphic user interfaces, rapid dry paints and finishes and snap-tite model kits just so you in your middle age could reflect on such things and state that "in my day, good things took time."

Somewhere in Wichita, an eleven year old has glued the left hand fuselage of a helicopter to step five and is flipping you off.

Bunny on.


Blogger Ericka said...

my brother went through the same thing with those models. and those awful stickers that you had to float in water... we both hated those things.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being a girl-person, I never got into those kits.

I was busy with my "Flower Fun Thing-Maker" by Mattel.

My brother, on the other hand, tore open the boxes, and had fun with the glue. The models never got put together.

Ah, the joys of an alcoholic-addict sibling.

2:22 AM  
Blogger Johnny C. said...

My dad bought a model plane for me once. It sat in the box forever. I believe it is still in that box, probably in a landfill somewhere.

We learned to bond over whiskey, much better than sticky adhesive.

3:55 PM  

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