Enough serious crap. Let's move on to more important concerns. What to do during the cold months from January to March if you're a fifth grade boy. Models. And not Heidi Klum type models. No. Real, scale models of cars and aircraft carriers and monsters and superheroes. Testors glue and paint and instructions and newspapers strewn across a small desk under a little light at 8:30pm.
My first model was one my father gave me. A Sunbeam. That's this weird car made in the 60's that was half a Volkswagon, half a Fairlane. It was two toned, usually a pale blue with white. It was ugly and we owned one. It was the car my mother got to drive. I guess that's why he gave it to me. As per usual I was given the kit, the glue, and the paint and set to my own devices. Now, in fifth grade I was as awkward as I'd ever be which is to say unable to master any technical skill. Delicate was way beyond my fingers abilities. I could barely color within the lines. This meant I spent several days screaming and yelling at myself and begging my father for help till it was done.
My next model came that Christmas. The Visible Man. This was both an incredible gift and some horrible torture. It had ten zillion parts that had to be glued and painted and then carefully fitted together because it came apart! Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as my father would say. My Visible Man resembled the Terminator in late stages of decay. Some parts were painted, some were not, I may have left out the liver. Glue was smeared all over the clear skin of the Visible Man making him more the translucent, smeary man.
I moved up in class. Hot Rods. These were gorgeous models by Aurora that required incredible amounts of patience and skill. I had none. My friend Terry had all of them and more in reserve. He could apparently assemble a model in ten minutes, not counting drying time, and it always looked just like in the magazines or on the box cover. Tommy Jenkins actually spray painted numerous layers of candy coated red on his cars. They gleamed like they were in a car show. The wheels moved. You could almost see some cool cat from California in a white t shirt sitting next to a leggy blonde in a huge bee hive.
Mine looked they'd gone cross country with the Joads.
Up to monsters. Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy. Terry's looked real, mine like monsters, only gluey, misshapen attempts by pathetic, arrogant humans to take on the power of God. Stitched together, missing parts, dripping red everywhere except where it should be.
My room stank of glue and paint. My new desk was splattered with red and green and little hillocks of plastic cement. On the plus side one day Terry's mom found him almost passed out at his desk because he'd inhaled so much plastic cement fumes. That could never happen to me. Before that would have happened I'd have tossed the piece of shit plastic torture machine across the room in a fifth grade rage. Then I'd stalk downstairs and sit in my favorite chair reading Classic's Illustrated and sucking a jaw breaker in a stink of frustration. God, life was good.