Daleks & destruction: The stuff of childhood whimsy

Lines, drawn in a haphazard and rushed fashion, roughly form the sideview outline of a Dalek when connected. No mere drawing of childhood whimsy, this was created as the basis of a overly detailed and rather intense instructional piece instead. Drawn not by a child who is merely filling their hours but rather, one who is hellbent on pretending to be the very space and time terror he drew for Halloween. An idea two years in the making.

Now to those Whovians among you “in the know”, I apologize for my need of explanation to follow (not to mention the explanation itself). And for those of you who have no earthly idea what a Dalek – or a Whovian for that matter – is, then I would highly recommend you break open a book or two and begin culturing yourself. Your education can even start here:

Daleks are the most dreaded, feared and hated enemy of Doctor Who ever to appear on screen. Doctor Who, in turn, is the time-traveling Time Lord created by the BBC to be the main character of a television show by the same name; both to keep the masses entertained, and possibly hoodwinked as to the whole thing being actually based on real events, versus imagined. Admittedly not nearly as cool as the Cybermen, the Daleks still reign supreme in the Whovian universe’s hierarchy of villainy. Personally speaking, I’ve always found them to be a bit irritating. What with their rolling about in a fashion similar to that of an infant captaining a wheeled baby walker, all while in a high-pitched voice incessantly bleating out “Exterminate, exxxxxxtermmmminate!” Screaming as they do, they simply roam space, time and even dimensions in the hopes of destroying every living being that crosses their path, and sometimes they’re quite successful at it. I mean, when they’re not busy serving tea.

And my youngest son wants to be one for Halloween.

Now it’s important to note that my youngest does not, in the normal course of his day, attempt to destroy every living being that he sees (that’s much more his older brother’s “thing”). In fact, if I had to compare him to an average household item, my choice would have to be a feather-stuffed pillow – squeezably comfy, and wonderful to snuggle with, with only the occasional prick. He’s probably the jolliest of the three, and usually the one who tries hard to keep everyone “playing nice.” You may recall he is also prone to forget things. Quite readily, and shortly after they plunk down in his head. And he seems to simply glide through life, most often and quite organically making all the right decisions. But his forget-ability has held no sway in his desire to “Dalek up” this halloween. I too have tried to dissuade him, based on the idea that if this thing does come to life, it will be me doing all the actual engineering to make it so. And let’s just say that I “engineer” about as well as I give birth. But to no avail, he is soldiering on with his plan.

What follows is the actual list of items he feels we’ll be requiring to make this Dalek thing happen, according to his “elements and instructions” sheet, and I’ve left all the spelling in tact:

• Robot Voice Translator – can be found at Vidler’s or Toys R Us • glue • wood • wisk • plunger • telescope • cardbord • ball joints • 2 lightbulbs • pencile • movable seat • 3 wheels • rubber • normal rounded glass • screws • nails • lights to see inside • paint is a given •

When I asked him how all these items were going to be put together, he simply stated “duh, I included nails and screws, daddy!” And the ball joints, what are those for? “They’ll be used on the side plates” But those are huge! This suit going to weigh hundreds of pounds! “Well that’s why it’ll have wheels.” But how are you going to push it? How are you going to get it up the front stairs of each house in order to get candy? “I’m not.” Then how will you get candy? They’re not going to come and bring it to you, you know. “I’m won’t get any candy.” So you’re just going to spend your Halloween rolling a several hundred pound Dahlek suit up and down the street? “It’ll creep people out.

Now here’s the rub, the Daleks aren’t even his favorite. No, he much more fancies other villains. Villians with LEGS. Villains like the fore-mentioned Cybermen. And the Sontarans. And of course there’s the Judoon as well. Not to mention Captain Jack. Yes Whovians, I actually do know that Jack isn’t technically a villain. But you have to admit, he was sort of a self-serving ass at the beginning. And that’s not even the whole point. The whole point is that he wore CLOTHES. Just clothes. No ball joints glued to wood being required. No swivel seat and interior lighting either. And while he could still purchase the robot voice translator if he wanted to (available at either Vidler’s or Toys R Us), it wouldn’t be a necessity.

Now, although he discounted being the Doctor himself, because his favorite is David Tennent and “I’m much too short to be David” (also suggested was that he be an Adipose, but in the normal course of our family chats, this ended with him simply running about naked while waving at people, so the plan was quickly dropped), he could be any one of these other characters instead. Characters that could be created with simple cardboard, clothing and paint (being a given). Instead, he’s stuck on this whole Dalek thing.

I told him he had better start saving his money if he really wanted to pursue this. And if nothing else, that will be my saving grace. For he saves money about as well as I engineer. Even if the plan doesn’t come to pass (please Jesus, don’t let the plan come to pass…) I’m keeping the instructions he drew up. Not because they’re overly detailed and rather intense, but simply because they capture perfectly a bit of my youngest’ childhood whimsy.

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10/24 memories of debauchery & stealth, of booze & brilliant plans

It’s that time of year again. That very special time when t-shirted Sundays turn into sweat-shirted sunsets. When the crisp air of evening holds onto the woodsy smell of burning fire pits, long after it has become the cold air of night. The time of year when almost any open field is turned into a “field of dreams” – the kind of dreams where you can’t get away from the monster pursuing you because your feet keep getting sucked into the wet earth beneath. The time of year when multitudes of high-school aged parents go on “little get aways” before the world dies for a spell, leaving behind their high-school aged children to fend for themselves.

Well, i’m supposing that that last part must be true, seeing as this is the time of year i seem to remember that the greatest number of “house parties” were held while we were growing up. It may (not) come as a surprise that parties of this variety were not allowed in our house under any circumstance – but since my R.C. parents never trusted us to be alone any way – such parties occurring proved impossible on even an logistical level. What’s more, my parents were not the type to allow us to go to these parties either – for their usual fear of our being subjected to booze, sex and debauchery run amok. A fear that, unlike that pertaining to concerts, turned out to be justified. And i know this because as my little brother and i grew into “manhood”, we resolutely determined that the ban on house parties was not only unfair, but unenforceable – should a brilliant plan be created to beat it. This is a story resulting from one such plan.

Being in a single story 3 bedroom house can be very much akin to living in the prison cell directly next to the guard house. The doors to each of the three bedrooms faced each other two to one, in that uncomfortably close fashion that made every “wake up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water” moment a painstakingly long, floor-board squeaking process that was sure to wake at least one other member of the family. My brother and i, however, knew that our plan to “escape” the ban on house parties would not involve walking in the hall, so we were safe. What the plan did involve was all of us going to bed as expected, weary-eyed and pajama-clad, without even a mention of the really awesome party that a truly awesome person was holding at their awesomely parent-free house. A party that would be attended by simply every awesome person the school had to offer. A party that we needed to be at too.

Once in bed, we would wait. Quietly. Patiently. Without breath and without movement. And we would sit stock still – watching the hands on our clocks tick slowly by. At least 15 minutes, but sometimes more. Since mom and dad were (what seemed at the time) around 200 years old each, it didn’t take too long for the sandman to steal them away. When we felt the time was right, we would each low-crawl up to our door and, slowly opening them just enough, quickly blink at each other with our flashlights – the signal which indicated that it was “Go” time. Since my little brothers door faced my parents room, he was the first to give thumbs up. Once received, we would dress while lying on the floor, and then meticulously create and stuff our beds with dummies made out of rolled up clothing (to take our place, should a bleary-eyed midnight bathroom break parent peer in). Then slowly – and ever so quietly – we would lower our outside screens to the ground. From there, it was only one quiet jump – a quick run ’round the house to meet at the front – and away we went, on our merry way. On foot, of course.

We went to many awesome parties in such a fashion. And in addition to having awesome times, awesome drama, awesome face sucking and boob grabbing, we became awesomely drunk at almost all of them. To this day i honestly can not tell you how we managed to stealthily get back into our rooms (especially considering the fact that from the outside, you had to jump – drunkenly, complete with dog chain necklace and bike chain belt – to reach the sill) without getting caught. i can tell you however, that there was one time that we did not. The last time, in fact.

i can’t remember who’s party it was, but i remember it was one of the better ones. We came slinking in as always and were well on our way to our own beds, each in his own room – in a fashion very similar to that of the Grinch as he slithers through the houses of the Who’s. But this time, it wasn’t Little Betty Lou Who who woke up – it was my mom. And this time, a glass of milk and a pat on the head would simply not suffice. We had both heard her get up, each of us in our own rooms, and we both knew that we could get through this, if we only played it smart. To my benefit, our older brother was home on leave at the time, and boarding with me – so it took only seconds for me to squirrel myself directly under my sill and behind his bed before mom opened my door and looked in upon himself and me. Well, “me” at any rate. Painstaking moments went by breathlessly, and once she closed the door, i double-timed it to my bed and thrust my dummy to the floor. My heart slammed against my ribs as i quietly removed my party gear and slid back into my weary-eyed pajamas. My heart pounded so loudly that i almost failed to hear my mom calling my younger brothers name – firm and quiet at first, but louder and more panicked with each instance. And then it occurred to me – why would she be calling his name when she didn’t call mine? How did he get caught when i didn’t? And here’s the thing – he technically didn’t get caught either. He got invaded.

Turns out, the dummy trick worked twice. And too well in the second instance. When mom opened my brothers door, she saw him sleeping in much the same fashion that she saw me. And then she looked up to see the silhouette of a strange man, standing stock still behind my brothers curtain. The curtain that resided in front of the window. The very window that was permitting all the moonlight into my brothers room – well, all the moonlight except for the area where my brother was standing, behind the curtain, stock still. He must have realized upon his name being called the third time that the jig was up, and he rather sheepishly came out from behind the curtain to face his punishment.

I can’t remember the full scope of it, but i do recall that it involved a grounding that even a hermit would find oppressive. And, never one to be blamed for not taking things much too far, my dad also nailed my brothers windows shut.

A punishment that stood until he had graduated from high school.

My little brother never did blow me in though, and i never did sneak out again. i wouldn’t do it without him, since being with him was the best part of the whole thing in the first place. i mean, what’s an evening of debauchery and drunken boob grabbing if you don’t have anyone to share the memories with? Memories that seem to bubble to the surface every year now, when the air turns cold and the smell of burning wood wafts along the evening breeze. Memories that are cherished, and ones that i hope you didn’t mind my sharing with you today.