Right now, I’m re-evaluating the whole idea of having a “hobby.” Hobbies in America are a pain in the ass since The Internet came and pooped in my punchbowl.

There was a time when I flipped from one “hobby” to another “hobby” with no regard for nuthin’. I just sucked and blew and floated with the breeze, man. I didn’t have to ask permisso of some “forum dad” to go to the little boys room and show the cool kids my stuff.

The internet is messed up. Hobbies are messed up. I can’t find no satisfation in the practice of something that has only one purpose–to bust my balls at all hazards and at all times.

When I opened up my very private hobby to the world, it turned out to be a huge mistake. That was the mistake. But what made it a mistake? It was the hostile, beligerent attitude of the testosterone poisoned mob who can’t help but turn everything into a competition. That may not be wrong. Maybe it’s good, in some way. But it’s NOT FUN. The competitive, nit-picking, rivet-counting crap sucks all the joy out of it.

It used to be that I could swing from one hobby to another, with no seams. Model trains. Model ships. Model planes. It’s all good, bro.

In 1968 I saw that Revell was going to make micro-trains, and I was bitten hard by a mad-dog desire to have me summa DAT. So I began to lobby for the Revell micro-trains of my dreams. All was well, until Christmas morning, when I ripped off the wrappings and found this:

Aurora!!? Where’s Van Helsing!?!

Aurora. How many of their sucky kits had I bought, built, and then consigned to the parts bin. Aurora! Foul despoilers of all that is good and right. Aurora! Pig dogs of putrid New Jersey mud flats. Aurora! The bad guys. Brand Z. Stamped in red with a NO GO ZONE.

So there I stood, with my Aurora in my hand, looking as “pleased” as I could, but my parents could tell that their spoiled brat of a kid was not happy.

The “train” was a sore spot between me and my folks for decades. You’d have to understand my weird psychology and THEIR (even weirder) psychology to get it–but man, don’t break your brain trying to figure it out. They spend the equivalent of 300 today dollars on something stupid, and they spent years of elderly sweat worrying about the fate of the greatest fail in Christmas history.

How could I explain about Aurora and Revell? Revell was all that was good. Aurora sucked before they invented the word “sucked.”

(FIFTY…………………………………….. YEARS……………………………… PASS…………………………………..)

Recently, the missus dug my old trains out of the closet. It would make sense (in a movie) for me to have had a cool layout at our house (in the basement) that had to be dis-assembled and then boxed up and finally shoved in a closet at the new condo (with no basement).

In fact, I can guarantee you that some people will read this and still think that’s what happened.

But, really, I had some trains. In storage. For fifty years.

Here’s the Warbonnet Santa Fe Engine.

The horn was broke when I got it. Another disappointment.

In 1985, I had a problem. There was a time in my life when I drank like a fish. I consumed a lot of booze. That was my problem. I went into treatment. I went to AA. I bought some trains.

I guess (I don’t remember–so hazy) but I must have thought that maybe that old Minitrix locomotive that came in the Aurora set was pretty good, because the one and only other loco I ever bought was another Minitrix. Bought in 1985 as a part of a “sobering up” effort.

Great model of a weird loco.

So here we are in 2020, pondering the meaning of being an American, and realizing that I was dead wrong about two things:

  1. Revell micro trains were actually inferior to the Aurora models. In this one case, Aurora made the superior product.
  2. Booze was not my friend. I’ve been sober for over twenty-five years now.

So what have I learned about model railroading? I’m beginning to appreciate more as I get older. It’s a gentler, calmer hobby. Plastic model kits tend to be romantic. Embarrassingly romantic. Boom! Pow! Zoom! Swish! RATATATATAT!!

Trains are more classical. There is a certainty to it. “Does it run?” is not a metaphor.

3 Replies to “Model….Railroading?!?!?”

  1. I have some trains from my early days, along with track, etc. A few buildings I built during my modelling days, and….yeah. I had Big Plans to build a layout back in the old days. My kids seem slightly interested now too. But damn…the space. These are HO models, so they would need to take up half of a spare room I don’t have. Or half of the garage.

    So since then, I have gotten all the motors running nicely, and occasionally set the track up and give the engines and carriages a run (even the kids like them…for 10 minutes or so).

    Why didn’t I start with mini trains!? (or N or Z or whatever the gauge is called….)

    Next I suppose you are going to say you loved playing games on a C64…

  2. Well, there you go.

    I loved Pirates! I still play it from time to time on my ancient C64, though one of those full size ones they have out now would probably be a better setup for anyone that doesn’t have the whole C64 and monitor setup.

    I also enjoyed the RPG games like Pool of Radiance, Wasteland, etc, and wargames on it too. Used to be good having a book handy to while away the load times.

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