In the opening to Larry McMurtry’s memoir about his passion for collecting books he describes the ranch house yard of his childhood;
“The fifty yards or so between the house and the barn boiled with poultry. My first enemies were hens, roosters, peacocks, turkeys. We ate lots of the hens, but our consumption of turkeys, peacocks, and roosters was, to my young mind, inexcusably slow.”
She has white blonde hair. Once she owned a red felt hat, but it has long gone. An arm is missing and a peg, for a wind-up key that no longer exists, pokes painfully from her moulded plastic spine. She has blue eyes and dainty painted lips. I cannot remember what movement or sound she made when her key was turned. How long did that part of her work? She was a precious thing. She stood on a shelf. She was to be looked at. Not fiddled with. In her red boots and her gauze undergarments. Standing looking out, plaits to her elbows.
Jasper’s collects the Lego mini figures. In fact he collects all sorts. This is why boys need pockets (and their mothers carry around bags with bits of Lego floating about in them) and when vacuuming there is the telltale rattle of a small something being sucked into the bag. Boys hoard. He has a crazy bone collection. He has football cards. He has a pile of rocks, a bucket of seashells, a booty of stick guns, a menagerie of plastic animals, a tall boy covered in stuffed toys and a “car drawer” filled with many, many Hot Wheels.
He has always liked figures that he can hold and play a make-believe game with. This is why the superhero guys were such a big hit. He has Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Silver Surfer, Iron Man, Bad Iron man, Spider man, Bad Spider man, The Hulk, Flash and a few Wolverines. I could have left someone out. They are battle damaged, hardened through years of heavy playing. They have travelled up North, down South, across oceans in airplanes to distant lands. A favourite Batman has red splotches painted on him in an attempt to mimic blood. He has been through the wars. His cape is torn.
A new guy might give him many hours of satisfying play. Gradually the game will grow tired and the man stored away in the “man drawer.” But he is just resting awhile. Awaiting a new adversary. A new adventure.
The Lego skateboarding dude has a different head when he arrives in the mail with the catalogue. Black rimmed glasses? He looks neither dudish or cool till he is sourced a new head with the appropriate hipster beard. Hoody zipper half undone to reveal black T shirt. Beanie. Better, says Jasper. Let’s skate.