Thursday, October 28, 2004

'Lego' My Legos

Legos are the best toy money can buy and are largely responsible for me being an engineer today, maybe even for my marriage. I had me first real Lego experience when I was seven. By real I mean the tiny ones with hundreds of different shape and not the common large brick Legos. I was at a baby sitters house after school and her son (who was away at the time) had an unopened box of Space Legos sitting on a table. I opened the box and put the space fighter craft together with immense satisfaction. That is until the baby sitters son came home and saw what I had done. I don't remember what happened after that but I was hooked.

I immediately started begging my parents and all my gift giving relatives for Space Legos and soon they started pouring in for my birthdays, my brother's birthday and also Christmas. By the time our childhood was gone, we had two large suitcases full of probably 50 or 60 pounds of Legos. We would always build up the Legos into the required vehicle, station, etc. directed by the instructions but they would last for about a day before they were disassembled and added back into the general pile. It was then that our imaginations would kick in and the influence began for my career in engineering.

We'd build all kinds of things but the favorite of my brother and I was to build cars. We had a set of Lego gears and a motor with remote control pack. We would build a car and hold timed drag races across the living room. It is then that I learned the concepts of gearing rations, torque and power. This was further ingrained upon my brain when we build vehicles for 'pushing wars' in which torque was more desirable than speed. Strength was always a factor in my designs during these contests because the last thing you wanted was a car that fell apart allowing the other person to drive all over you.

Creativity was a huge part of having Legos. Like a blank piece of canvas to an artist, a pile of Legos in the middle of the living room floor just cried out for me to build something. As my parents can attest, I spent hours upon hours stirring the pile back and forth looking for that illusive small piece that I just had to have for my latest creation. The sky was the limit with our creations and we did them all. I have heard that some companies have a set of Legos for their designers to create models of their designs. I haven't found a company willing to pay me to play with Legos yet but if one of them is reading this now, I AM YOUR MAN.

Legos are at least partially responsible for my marriage. While sitting in an art museum in London talking to the woman who would later become my wife, we got to talking about our favorite childhood toys. Both of us had Legos at the top of our lists. I don't know what would have happened is she had said jacks but from then on, I knew we were meant for each other. I often wish that it was still acceptable for a grown adult to play with Legos. My parents still have the two suitcases of Legos at their house saving them for my children someday. But I am afraid a thirty one year old man playing with Legos would be looked on in a bad sort of way. But if I were alone in a room for a couple hours with a pile of Legos dumped out on the floor, you better believe I would be there on my hands and knees, stirring the pile looking for that dang illusive small piece that I need to complete my latest creation.

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