Lego My Manhood

Play well. Play fair.

In the florescent light of the toy lab two men huddle over a memo sent down from upstairs…

“I don’t know what’s wrong with the original primary colors, Johnson. I mean, isn’t this how the old Dane designed them? It’s written right here in the Britannica.” The man in the brilliant white lab coat pokes an importunate finger at the large book splayed open on his desk.

“Well, times change and we either snap to it, or come unglued, Pratt.” The other man was quite pleased with the spontaneous pun, and while he didn’t understand the idea of changing color schemes anymore than Pratt, he was pragmatic about the whole thing. The company wanted to sell more Legos. Johnson needed the company to sell more Legos, or else he could be out of a job.

“But PINK?” Pratt scowls and jabs another finger at the familiar brick mold, this time his middle one. His stance recalls a dusty painting of a towering, bushy browed figure cloaked in robes arguing for the preservation of the establishment with all its comforts and codicils.

“And don’t forget white, we can’t have pink without adding white ones. Kids are savvy enough these days to know you can’t just pull pink outta your ass,” Pratt huffs.

“Since you brought it up, it could be worse, Pratt — we could have been making Lincoln Logs for the past thirty years. You know what you get when you mix brown with brown and spread it over a four-inch, notched wooden dowel?” Johnson raised a rhetorical eyebrow for emphasis.

“Turds and splinters, that’s what you get,” Pratt grumbles.

“Never mind the logs, have you stopped to wonder what they’ll build with their little pink bricks?” Johnson looks sincerely curious.

“Between me and you, it’s not natural giving building blocks to girls. What’s wrong with a Mrs Beasley doll, or an Easy Bake Oven? Everybody knows Legos were made for boys. It says so right here in the Encyclopedia Britannica. Girls are not builders. Not to mention, they have the gall to order us to make the pink ones to the same spec as all the other bricks, right down to the number of posts and holes. This means it’ll work exactly like the others,” Pratt declares in a treasonous hush.

An awareness — unsettling, yet oddly familiar, begins to take the shape of his daughter’s smile in Johnson’s mind.

In a spontaneous flash, his first intercession on behalf of women and girls everywhere, in the name of fairness and equality, occurs when Johnson has an epiphany and addresses Pratt’s misogynistic protests — man to man. “Did you expect the toy designers to lop off a peg just so the little pink Lego wouldn’t be quite so threatening to your fragile sense of masculinity, Pratt? For Christ sake, man, get a grip! It’s almost 1980!”

The lab falls into an uncomfortable silence as the two men retreat to their workstations and prepare to blend the plastic material into an acceptable shade of pink for the new age of Legos.

Previously published in The Weekly Knob. 11/19

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