Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lego role models


Digital collage by myself circa 1997

Unpublished article dating back to circa 2000

I was once at a dinner when conversation verged towards "children role models", and so the attendees started revealing their own fantasies, as they were toddlers.
A young man who was studying theology conceded it was God. Must be tough measuring up to such a choice. Everything he did, he might end up feeling a failure as his role model has done better, bigger, and bolder. But hey! That was his own sado-masochistic choice and so it was up to him to assume it. In retrospect, it might make sense for him to study theology, as he might delve more into God's forgiveness of human failures.
Then there was this awesome girl - Gabriella. Gabo for short. Perhaps a cuter alternative to her original name, if there was any, or a reference to Greta Garbo to whom, even though she bore no direct resemblance, she still carried those killing femme fatale traits. She was in her late twenties or early thirties, and one might easily have assumed she was in some "design" or "art" profession. Well, Gabo seems to have had two role models - not one. Of course, being a woman - and a beautiful one at that - she might be excused.
First there was "wonder woman". Well, Gabo never got around to specify if it was he supernatural powers that made her eligible to become her role model, or if it was her avant-garde fashion sense (Remember that stars and stripes bathing suit?). As a child, I used to hear my older - and at the time more knowledgeable - cousin say that wonder woman could make salad of bionic man just by throwing her tiara at him. Perhaps I never got around to demystify my cousin, or his wonder-woman-turning-bionic-man-into-salad theory, and so it was quite understandable that Gabo would have wonder woman as a role model.
Gabo's "other" role model was certainly less understandable - and definitely not defendable. Miss Piggy. Yes, the pig-nosed Kermit infatuated domineering female presence in "The Muppet show". Perhaps Gabo has a different shape, and size, before she turned out to be the pretty woman she eventually became.
Then there was Einstein. Both the role model and the one present around the table. Graduated with honors from university, the one present around the table that is, with a degree in engineering. Working in the jungle for some international oil-extracting conglomerate. How he eventually escaped the rebels and made it to the dinner table is still a mystery. He offered to tell the tale, but then again, judging by how it took him to eventually come around to saying "Einstein" (The role model this time), we all declined to hear it.
And so on and so forth.
Then there was me. I had no idea what to say, so I eventually summed it up with: "By the time I knew I had to have role models, I had outgrown the need to have one". Whereas I did manage to escape the question that night, it still lingered in the back of my head. Was it Goldorak? The Gundam robot who was set to save the earth. Was it the incredible hulk? The green monster with no definite practical role. The list went on and on and I eventually seemed to answer the question "Name 100 personalities, dead or alive, of whom you heard once or more up till the age of 5 years, 2 months, and 13 days?"...
But I have a firm belief that what shaped me the most, were the Lego cubes. Actually, not the cubes. It was more the Lego models. When I was 6, I got a Lego set as a Christmas gift from my uncle. Then, the following year, both my brother and I received a different set as a Christmas gift - this time from our parents. I got the helicopter, whereas he got the police engine. Anyone familiar with Lego knows that inside every set, different combinations exist to assemble the pieces.
"Hours and hours of fun guaranteed" could not have been truer then when speaking about Lego. It activated my three-dimensional imagination more than anything I could think about. I made designs that I now encounter in architectural or specialized magazines. I once constructed a house whose wall was entirely made of windows. I later saw that in Java Island, Amsterdam, in a celebrated building over there. One of my "car" models was so similar to the tiny "Smart" city coupe; now a raging success throughout the world.
Which, of course, makes a genius. Much like Einstein. Only without having him as a role model.
And we all know what happened to the kid who had Einstein as a role model.
No thank you, no lengthy stories about escaping the rebels in the jungle for me.
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