He ran screaming down the hall. “Let Go of My Lego!” His mother rapidly not closing on him; and the door slammed shut on the discussion. She leaned panting against the door jam, not even trying the knob she knew to be locked; silently cursing the day she let him install a lockable knob to “keep his sister out”. She retreated back toward the living room and half of her mouth snuggled up into her cheek as she thought about “the best Christmas present he would ever get”.
It had all started in the early spring. Somewhere between the Camelot Castle and the Millennium Falcon; he had been sick and they had taken him to the doctor’s office. There in the waiting room was a bunch of toys that usually never held much interest for her eight year old son. Kicked between the Wet Pea doll missing her right arm and every stitch of clothing, the aftermath of Tonka truck meets immovable wall/foot/floor/kid, blocks of every color shape and size except the crucial ones needed to really build anything recognizable and the orphan pieces of other childhood detritus were a few comic books.
Listlessly her energetic holy terror gone docile and limpid slowly leafed between the pages and missing pages haphazardly still stapled between what was once a cover. The pages of a web spinning high flyer followed by a giant green man that morphed into a little implausible rich kid, the next page followed the fastest man in red tights, and all gave witness to a half-hearted, half-unknowledgeable attempt to keep comic guts from spreading out into the real world of the waiting room. Fortunately for the boy and in some ways unfortunately for everyone else, some of the ads that are usually regulated to the place never reached or read in a comic book that resides in an efficient doctor’s office; commonly referred to as “the back of the book”; had been re-directed to near the front and therefore, found.
“Ho-ly cat-fish, McMurphy”, the small voice sighed.
She could feel the vibration starting next to her like a large diesel truck or earth moving machine starting up their engines. It starts low and rumbles and shakes through the entire frame with bits and pieces rattling in their own unique symphony as they come alive. She would look back later and see that moment as the pivotal moment that she could have taken him home and foregone the doctor’s visit. Whatever it is in little boys DNA that makes them sick one moment but well and vital the next, was kicking in to high gear at that very moment that he evoked the magical phrase of boyhood wonderment. The same phrase she had heard her husband utter all during their dating during college. It’s either genetic or male, and either didn’t matter as she gently detached her attention from the magazine she was perusing and leaned over to see what he found that was so transformable.
The little body was literally vibrating. The conglomerate comic was hovering in a micro shaken state of pre-testosterone excitement. The pages were a mash-up of X-ray glasses to torment sisters, mothers, teachers and fellow students, promises of hours of entertainment from your very own circus of magical Sea Monkeys, dynamos driven from perpetual motion machines, experimental personal helicopters that you too, at only eight years old, could build in your parent’s garage, advanced degrees from a prestigious college that only exists in the back of such books and other “enlightened” diatribes that have been the staple of the last three pages of comics since the first issue of the first volume of the first super hero or maybe even the wild west villains.
Her eyes were glazing over the same old stuff as she wondered what he could have been stopped by so completely when she saw the small picture. Recognition bloomed in her head like a mushroom cloud over the Nevada desert. Years of stepping on tiny pieces of boyhood, the rattle of the same as it whooshed its way up the vacuum cleaners tube when captured from its dark hiding place under a bed or couch or listening to the incessant litany of needed parts to complete critical construction of whatever was capturing the attention for that time period, always to be constructed but never reused, just stored on the ever increasing shelves about his bed. It was amazing that he never thought to build his bed from the all consuming Legos. And, there, was now a t-shirt that clearly proclaimed the boy’s number one attention, love, and life giving energy.
She stared at the image like it was a slow moving train wreck. Fascinated by the colors and imagery in something she knew to be shunned and horrified by. The feeding of heroin to a junkie, pain killers to a self medicating injured hypochondriac or just a little wine to an alcoholic; a T-shirt that he could wear to school, for all the public to see, and proclaim his addiction. All of his school chum’s moms’ scornful looks plowed through her head in a massive car pile-up on a freeway with an unending flow of traffic. The hateful tongue-wagging from the same, cursing her for starting a wave of Lego chest festooned children running rampant through the streets and play grounds, bashed from ear to ear and all train stops in between.
Saved by the nurse she sighed. The magic spell is broken. The horror of earth shattering doom averted. As she started to rise, she was stopped by the one sound that froze her soul, removed all energy from her legs and sent a cascade of glacial water nibbling down the vertebra that was at the same time melting from the heat off of the searing lurch of her stomach; the tiny quiet tearing of paper.
Involuntarily her bottom hit the chair about the same time her soul hit her bottom. The tiny hand froze in time and space with only a half inch left to tear on the way to salvation. Small eyes slowly rolled up to look at a head that was cast in immovable stone. “What are you doing?” Her smallest of voices asked as she stared at the now curious nurse.
“Taking” the little mouse voice started “the ad?” it finished in query.
The book slowly closed. And was just as gentle as a feather floating to earth from a sparrows nest, it was laid by two hands, back on the table next to the rest of childhood escape. And as she started to shift her weight forward she was stopped with that one last tiny almost imperceptible nuclear bomb/volcano eruption/car crash/train wreck of the last half inch of pulp paper separating; A sound that would vibrate through the months to come.
The corner of her eye discerned that both tiny hands were empty. But in her heart, she knew that the space reserved for boyish things between the mattresses would soon be graced by a small two inch size piece of paper with only a single picture that would invade their lives for at least months if not years. If she could have only guessed at the decades to come, she would have suffered more or less and rolled easier through the punches of childhood promises and whine.
“All I want for Christmas is a T-shirt.”
“What about that 10-speed bike you wanted?”
A mental stumble and pause filled the air, “Nope; Just the shirt.”
And so as his sister opened gift after gift, he sat staring at a single small wrapped package. Worshipping and cherishing the moment. Holding himself back until he couldn’t stand the tension anymore and then the wrapping vaporized along with the nightshirt that had warmed his scrawny body a nano-second before. The boy, as if by magic manifested into “Lego Man”.
And so on the morning of the next January first, a team of stealth Ninjas crept down the hall. The youngest Ninja, known as “The Sister”, kneeled at the locked door and inserted a small Ninja tool known as a “Bobby Pin” into the small hole as she silently turned the knob. With luck on the Ninja team’s side, the hinges for once did not protest in raspy squeal; but instead swung silent.
With a nod from the larger Ninja hovering over the small form on the bed and gripping the sleeves, the other two shadow figures pounced on the splayed legs and tiny tightey-whitey covered hips.
In an explosive swoosh of the offending ripe boy’s scented red shirt, the tiny body was exposed and the yelling began. The leader removed the offending week-long worn garment to the sanitation installation as the second commanded her son to go take a shower. The smallest Ninja danced out of the door laughing at the successful operation forever known as the “Defrocking” of the Lego Man. That story only to be related some 18 years later to his new bride dressed in white, by that same Ninja.