Saturday, March 21, 2020

Model Citizen

Back into the way back machine. This time we're going back to a place where model airplanes used to hang from strings that hung just above my head. In my room, there was a constant but ever-changing squadron of scale fighters, bombers and cargo planes. I built a few PBF Avengers. The reason I took a few swings at this particular kit was because the torpedo bay doors in their belly had a tiny pin that had a habit of snapping off whenever I tried to squeeze it into place. That meant that the real-life action of being able to open and close was diminished in my world. It would have been just as simple to complete the model and leave the doors glued shut. But I would know.
So I enlisted the talents of my older brother, who had a knack for such things. He suggested that we cut a tiny bit off a paper clip that cold then be heated on our kitchen stove to a point that it could be melted into a facsimile of the broken pin. A painstaking operation, this, as it required needle nose pliers, oven mitts and a steady hand. That last bit kept me out of performing the actual task. My older brother, with a four year lead on me in the ways of melting plastic appeared as a qualified expert.
As I have suggested previously, that first try did not go so well. The pin was overheated and turned the corner of the torpedo bay door into a charred blob of slag. A second attempt only made matters worse. This PBF Avenger was not going to be operational from the standpoint of delivering anything but a make believe payload. With a big unsightly bulge that could not be hidden by a coat of paint. Which meant it was quickly in line for the Friday night fire.
On those Friday evenings that my parents went out to dinner without us boys, once we had consumed the next best thing to mom's good cooking in foil trays, we would head out to the back yard to sacrifice one of our plastic models to the gods. Which gods I cannot be entirely sure, but the mess that it made was just this side of unholy. Once the plane, tank or car had been reduced to an indistinguishable black puddle of goo, we waited for it to cool. Then we heaved it over the fence into the vacant lot behind us.
Once my initial PBF Avenger had made that leap into history, I was ready to buy a new kit. I was more cautious than usual as I popped the pieces from their sprues, filing down any stray bits of excess plastic. Except for the part when I was taking that one torpedo bay door off and left the pin attached to the tree from whence it came.
I breathed deep. I found my older brother. He was ready for a chance to redeem himself. This time, the operation was a success, and that little bit of paper clip fused neatly in the place of my mistake. Assembling the rest of the model was a breeze by comparison, and when everything was dry and complete, I presented it for inspection to my friends. The tiniest flick on the doors allowed the plastic torpedo to drop to the ground. Just like real life.
My friends were not impressed. They had moved on. They wondered why I had bothered to waste my time building another PBF Avenger.
By the end of the next week, it had become another hunk of burned plastic in the vacant lot.

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