WELL, THAT HAPPENED: LEGO… therapy?

By on June 9, 2015

When grown-ups get nostalgic

The LEGO man lowers his Murphy bed and contemplates his life.

The LEGO man lowers his Murphy bed and contemplates his life.

I am turning 28 next month, but that doesn’t mean that the simple pleasures I enjoyed two decades ago are dead and gone. As I age into adulthood, the world is constantly getting more stressful and scary. Things like health insurance and planning for the future used to be toss away phrases, but now they’re front and center in my life. Stress cripples me. I have nightmares about work. And, with my busy schedule, it’s getting harder and harder to uphold my relationships with friends and family.

Therefore, to try and calm my crazy adult mind, I spent $150 of my hard-earned ducats on a LEGO set.

My neatly packaged LEGO Creator Parisian Restaurant (expert level) arrived via UPS in an enormous, surprisingly heavy box. I chose this particular LEGO set due to the fact that it had the most pieces of any LEGO set in that price range, 2,469 pieces total. I am also unabashedly fond of classy Parisian architecture.

The set, once constructed, was said to be nearly 12 inches high and contained five yellow-faced minifigures: a chef, a waiter, a girl and “a romantic couple.” It got me wondering why the waiter and the girl couldn’t also be in a romantic relationship, but I guess that was up to me to decide. What is a LEGO builder but a god capable of divine romantic intervention?

I anxiously made my way home and dumped the contents of the box onto my bedroom floor. The box contained 20 or so numbered bags of LEGO pieces and three thick building manuals. I flipped to the first page of the first manual, opened all the bags with the number one on them, and got to work.

My first task was to construct the first floor and outdoor area of this three-floor behemoth café. I put on a podcast and began building. I started by tiling a sidewalk, creating flower beds, and eventually spelled out C.H.E.Z. in tiny tan blocks with checkered dark grey and light grey blocks in between the letters. I was annoyed that I had to build chairs and tables on top of the word, because what was the point of that?

More WTF moments occurred when I built the chef’s kitchen, complete with a sink, dirty dishes and a series of drawers and cabinets. Part of the instructions told me to place a LEGO pan inside one of the drawers and push it shut. And then I added cheese to the refrigerator and pushed the door shut on that too. The kitchen was too tight for my fat finger to even retrieve these items ever again, but perhaps small children would enjoy playing with these unseen items. Too bad this expert set is recommended for ages 16 and up.

The romantic couple had sexy hairdos and sat opposite one another at one of the tables. The instructions commanded that I place a gold ring in the man’s hand, and a wine glass in the woman’s hand. The waiter was supposed to be placed nearby bringing the couple even more wine. The other girl minifigure, who I initially intended to fall in love with the waiter, was exiled outside the entrance and placed on a scooter. The chef stood in the open kitchen, silently holding a knife as he stared out at the romantic couple.

With the players set, I began construction on the second story. I built a beautiful flower-covered balcony with empty tables (prime real estate for a romantic proposal), and then fashioned a studio apartment with a quaint kitchenette, a gorgeous fireplace, and a then a Murphy bed. The third floor was nothing more than an empty room with a painting easel. Why wouldn’t a self-respecting Parisian artist living above the swanky “Chez Albert Restaurant” transform the third floor into a badass bedroom with a real bed?

Ultimately, it took me around six hours over the course of 10 days to complete the monstrosity. The process was enjoyable, but when I finally completed the Chez Albert Restaurant, trapping the minifigures in the darkness of 2,400 other pieces, I let out a sigh.

I’m nearly 28 years old and I just threw away 150 bucks.

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