My Legos smelled like pickles
by Matt “Naj” Najmowicz
Lately, I have been having this obsessive craving for pickles. My mother makes these pickles from a recipe she has from some old cookbook. She brines sliced up English cucumbers and then lets them sit overnight in the refrigerator; they come out fantastic. If that wasn’t enough, downstairs in the refrigerator there is a large jar of pickles that was bought a few months ago. It has been a vinegar and pickling spice utopia for the last few weeks. The smell alone of the pickles makes my day a little easier; it is funny what the scent of a pickle can do.
When I was younger, one of my favorite toys of all times was a collection of Lego kits my parents had bought me. Essentially, Legos are plastic building blocks of different colors, sizes, and ever different textures used for building models of a busy airport, a pirate’s ship on the high seas, or even a spacecraft exploring the outer rims of the galaxy. By the time I was around 12 years old, I had accumulated around 15 or so of these kits varying in theme and size. Sometimes I would get a small kit, but the small kits usually had very detailed pieces of Legos that could make a future model distinctive in appearance. The small kits were just as important as the larger ones.
Lager Legos kits all had one thing in common: templates. The templates were about a square foot in size and they often served as literally the base of whatever you were building. So, if I wanted to perhaps build a sprawling castle, I would start from the ground up on one of these templates. I had an assortment of colors to work from, and occasionally a template had a more three dimensional component to it. For example, I had a few outer space kits as I mentioned before, and some of those kits would have a template that was grey and had raised backgrounds to look like a moon surface. How could anyone not love a moon surface to build a land rover on?
One kit in particular had a pirate ship theme to it. Now I will be totally honest, I am not a fan of pirates. Johnny Depp has officially killed that genre for me and I will go into depth of my seething rage about him in another column; for now I will keep the eyes on the prize. The pirate ship kit was literally a large, three-mast brown vessel that I used for many different scenarios. Despite not being the biggest fan of pirates, that ship had a lot of use for my fantasies. I would be able to sail away to far away planets, and of course, boss all the crew to listen to the captain: Captain Naj. I do recall sending a few crewmembers off the plank for constant insubordination, why this was one of my favorite things I could not have an accurate recollection for. I digress; the execution scenes were magnificent, breathtaking, and worthy of adaptation into a book or perhaps even a movie. James Matthew Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, would envy my Captain Naj. Captain Naj’s cruelty is only rivaled and equaled by his diabolical cunning.
Sometimes Captain Naj took off his tricorn hat and sabre for a cosmonaut’s helmet and ray gun.
I would build starships that would reach distant planets and stars. Nothing was out of reach with my Legos built rocket ships. Encountering a new alien race or watching a distant supernova was possible through my imagination, which was always in high-gear. Not only could I build a starship or a more traditional shuttlecraft like you would see on television, I also built the land rovers and other vehicles you would need to explore the surface of the new planet. Sometimes I also needed to build a space age weapon or siege machine to take on hostile aliens. After all, if you have seen enough movies you realize that aliens are always hostile and must be dealt with swiftly before they inhabit our planet.
This has only been reinforced in my latter years by watching a movie that I consider to be a documentary: The Ridley Scott classic, “Alien.” This is a stern warning to all those reading this: Do not take possible alien invasion lightly.
Many incredible days were spent building something and letting my mind run with dreams and fantasies, and this was made all possible through my parents’ hard work.
When I was younger, my mother worked two jobs before she had her position at AT&T. One of her jobs was working at a Burger King that wasn’t too far away. As I was accumulating Legos kits, there was a problem of keeping the Legos someplace that wasn’t all over my bedroom floor. So one day, my mom comes home and handed me a green five-gallon bucket with a lid that said “pickles” on the side of it.
There was the solution to my problem of random Legos sprawled all over my bedroom floor. It was a wonderful smelling solution and to this day always made me smile. That bucket made my Legos smell like pickles, but nothing in the word made playtime smell so good.
Thank you, mom and dad, for the pickles.