hel·low (ˈhelō/) exclamation. A salutation embodying the vibrant energy found in the color yellow.

09 August 2012

Paper Action Figures

Spiderman would look best in black and neon
No dinosaur came with eight legs and two sets of wings
A blue-furred polar bear with a shark head would be cool
But no toy stores carried them
Instead they prowled the corners of my mind during math class
And other dry subjects
Roaring above the whir of my ceiling fan at bedtime
Spilling onto pages of notebooks
Side-columns of textbooks
Over the business section of Dad’s Sunday paper
They followed me like a trail of crumbs
Leaving a trace, as if I stepped in a bucket of red paint
“Don’t know what’s wrong with your kid” said Grandma
“I take him to the dollar store and give him ten bucks”
“Goes straight to the office supplies”
“Find him in my kitchen talking to rubberbands and paperclips”
“Pen caps and clothespins mysteriously disappear”
“But the chest of toys in the corner is untouched!”
“Strange kid”
It wasn’t my fault toys weren’t vague enough
There was no canvas to paint upon when the portrait was already there
I didn’t want to re-imagine. I wanted to create my own.
Dad helped me a few times when I was younger
He’d take me to the barn with a handful of two-by-fours
Show me the jigsaw and let me carve figures
For action figures unavailable at Meijer
Thirty-seven wooden figures and several gallons of paint later
I realized supply could not meet demand
Needed more housing for the creatures wandering the streets of my thoughts
Residency needed to be cheaper, simpler,
Easier to build.

Cardstock paper was idyllic
My doodles were drawn in black sharpie and cut out like paper dolls
Except they weren’t dolls
They were creatures
Stupendously awesome creatures
That consumed my bedroom walls, the upstairs halls, and most space in between
Once I started I could not stop
An addiction to keep spawning more fantasies
A box under my bed collected these paper-thin perversions
Until I played with them again
Speaking aloud or in my head
As they ran and leapt about the cliff of a bed
Actors for scenes I soon learned to document
Via words
To become future novels
Of war and adventure
And all great things for a young boy’s head
Without the need for a football helmet
“He’s in the sixth grade and still plays with action figures!?” said Mrs. Caulfield
“Well they’re more like scraps of paper,” my mom responded
“He draws characters on them”
“I’m concerned,” was her response, pressing an over-manicured finger to her gossiping lips
“I took Josh’s action figures away in the second grade.”
Maybe that’s why he sits in her basement playing PS3 all day?
He never did get that football scholarship
Or that perfect ACT score, did he?
I didn’t either
But my little doodles on cardstock
My homemade action figures
Created the scenes to fill my stories
In a book published by a high schooler
Impressed the letter readers at a prestigious university
Rewarded the skill of my upbringers
With pride and respect.

That’s why I love my parents
For not shooting the stork
Or shaving Santa
While my friends were shoved down the current
My parents gave me a paddle
Permission to sail against the stream
And pursue any dream
That gave me happiness
They never threw out my doodles
Or sold my action figures
They told me to make more.

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